MeditationStudies on meditation show that it can not only provide relief from stress when it is practiced, but can help build a kind of immunity to future stress -— your stress response may be triggered less often if you meditate regularly. Meditation is also an ideal stress reliever for seniors in that it requires no special equipment or physical ability, can be practiced in a variety of settings, and provides excellent relief from stress. (Read this article for more on the benefits of meditation.)
Cognitive PuzzlesSolving Sudoku or crossword puzzles, or working on other thinking games can provide mental stimulation akin to ‘brain exercise.’ Because these games require focused concentration, they can provide helpful distraction for those who tend to ruminate over stressors, plus the benefits of mental stimulation. You can get a lot of mental stimulation by doing the daily crossword puzzle from your local newspaper, or you can go the more high-tech route of playing a portable game like Brain Age for the Nintendo DS. You can also play these fun online games, which aren’t too addicting.
YogaResearch shows that yoga can help promote well-being and improve quality of life in seniors, as well as enhance senior health. It’s also an excellent stress relief tool, and can carry other physical benefits. (Note: While some forms of yoga have a spiritual component, yoga can be practiced as a purely physical exercise, making it compatible with all faiths.) The practice of yoga allows a lot of flexibility, so it’s a good choice for people of all ability levels and fitness goals.
Breathing ExercisesBreathing exercises are an extremely convenient, fast-acting and effective stress reliever that can be easily adopted by people of any age, including seniors. Wherever you are, it’s possible to diffuse stress with a few deep, controlled breaths. (Read this article for more on breathing exercises.)
Cognitive RestructuringSometimes just looking at something a different way can make it seem less stressful. Practice finding the positive in a situation, looking at it from a different angle, or even working with a therapist on a specific situation, and you may find that your stress response is triggered less and less. ‘Cognitive restructuring’ is a clinical term for changing the way you look at things, an important part of cognitive therapy, which has been found to be extremely helpful for a variety of issues, including stress. See this article for specific cognitive restructuring tips.
Lane JD, Seskevich JE, Pieper CF. Brief Meditation Training Can Improve Perceived Stress and Negative Mood. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. January-February 2007.
Oken BS, Zajdel D, Kishiyama S, Flegal K, Dehen C, Haas M, Kraemer DF, Lawrence J, Leyva J. Randomized, Controlled, Six-Month Trial of Yoga in Healthy Seniors: eEfects on Cognition and Quality of Life.. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. January--February 2006.
Shields M, Martel L. Healthy living among seniors. Health Reports 2006.