Getting older is a fact of life, and one that we often may not want to accept. While we can maintain a healthy body with a good diet and physical exercise, it is also important to be able to relieve stress as you get older.
As you age, your brain as well as your body goes through physical changes, which affect how it functions as it shrinks in size, can be more prone to lesions, and higher blood pressure may put you at risk for stroke.
Stress through your lives and into your later years has a negative effect on the development of your brain as you get older — and combined with the stress of actually aging — can be detrimental to your overall health if not addressed properly.
Research has shown that external stress on the brain during a lifetime can affect the structure of your brain and is a contributing factor to age-related memory loss. With that in mind, as you get older, you should do your best to minimize your stress.
There are many external stressors brought on by the trials and tribulations of daily life, especially in recent times because of the pandemic — but stress can be relieved with some simple but effective methods that include planning for life events, exercising your brain, and socializing in a safe way.
Your Peace Of Mind
The uncertainty of life and the things it has in store for us can be stressful enough for people to develop phobias, as with the 20% of people in the United States who consider themselves to be “thanatophobic” individuals. However, planning for events such as death, retirement, and even natural disasters can greatly reduce some of the stress associated with them.
Ironically, the fear of death can cause stress, which itself is a large contributor to the six leading causes of death. Planning for such things as the cost of death reduces subconscious anxiety based on the acknowledgment of the event, and the fact that it has been written down — allows the brain to focus on more immediate concerns.
Events such as death, retirement, and other external factors, such as job loss, also usually come with an attached financial burden that adds to the stress of the event. Money worries account for a large portion of stress with 72% of Americans admitting that they were deeply stressed about money at some point in their lives. Financial planning puts the mind at ease — as it can restore order to your life — and leave you knowing exactly where you stand.
Train Your Brain
Similarly to the rest of your physical body, your brain also benefits from exercise. Although you can’t take your brain out and put it on a treadmill, you can take advantage of some simple activities that will “work out” your brain. It has recently been evidenced that even walking 20 to 30 minutes per day helps your body as well as your brain.
When performing aerobic exercise such as walking, blood flow to your brain is increased, which promotes cell division in the hippocampus and increases synaptic activity. This helps with memory management as well as the obvious physical benefits and serotonin and dopamine production associated with regular exercise.
There are also very well-developed brain-related exercises, which help an aging brain to relieve stress by keeping it active. Brain training, as it is known, has been shown to affect structural changes in your brain, improve social skills, and reduce stress. These usually consist of logical puzzles and other cognitive methods, but they also can include creative exercises.
You Must Stay Engaged
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, isolation issues are worse than ever — not only on a social level — but on a mortality level as well. Because of pandemic restrictions, many older or ill people are dying alone in their homes with no loved ones around them either before, during, or after death.
Engaging with other people is one of the biggest factors in the development of your brain and has been shown to be important as you get older. The psychological need for friends and relationships comes just after the basic needs of food, warmth, and water according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs; maintaining social relationships have also been shown to play a crucial role when it comes to preventing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Research has shown that those with regular interactions with other people procure a better memory during the aging process. Even just talking with others can greatly reduce stress. Actively engaging with other individuals and talking through life’s problems with others has a huge psychological benefit — as it is the basis of many modern therapy techniques.