'I can't be stressed; I'm retired!'
April 18, 2012 · Updated 4:22 PM
Perhaps no medical issue flies under the radar more than stress. A recent survey by the American Psychological Association found one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress, while close to half of all survey respondents felt their stress levels are on the rise.
While stress is a problem many feel stems from work, it is not solely a byproduct of work, and those without work-related stress can still be overwhelmed. Simply put, stress can affect everyone, even the nation's retirees. While retirement is often seen as a chance to relax and enjoy the fruits of a life's worth of labors, retirement can also be a stressful time. Getting by on less income can be stressful, as can health issues that might arise as we age. In fact, a person's ability to relax after a stressful event actually becomes more difficult the older we get. Such a reality only underlines the importance of stress prevention for retirees, who can decrease their risk of stress or stress-related illness with some common preventive measures.
• Diet and exercise. While seniors might not be able to do all that they used to when it comes to exercise and athletics, daily exercise combined with a healthy diet can go a long way to preventing stress. When exercising, be careful not to over-exert yourself but be sure to include exercise as part of your daily routine. Exercise can include a daily walk out in the fresh air or a trip to the gym for some light weightlifting and cardiovascular work. Seniors should always consult a physician before beginning an exercise regimen.
With respect to diet, avoid sugar, fried foods and excessive consumption of alcohol, as each can aggravate an existing condition. Such habits increase the health-related stress many seniors feel as their immune system weakens and they become more susceptible to disease or additional ailments.
• Be sure to socialize. Stress doesn't just come from work or a physical ailment; it can also be the result of a mental ailment, such as depression. Just like everyone else, seniors need to share their problems and concerns as well as their good times with others. Just because you're retired from work doesn't mean you're retired from life. Stay actively involved in your community and be sure to maintain regular contact with friends and family members. Socialization comes in many different forms, and seniors should take advantage of community-based programs to connect with other seniors or even share their experience with younger generations whenever possible.
• Develop a daily routine. Part of the joy of retirement is having the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. However, many retirees find that a daily routine helps them instill a sense of order in their lives and avoid stress. The daily routine can include a morning round of golf, a weekly lunch or dinner with the kids, or anything else that promotes a sense of purpose.