Prolonged Stress

As the body ages, it becomes more vulnerable to stress.

Tips to Consider

Stress is a natural part of life—we get challenged, we stretch and grow to meet that challenge, and we relax and recharge when the stressful challenge has passed. When the stress cycle fails to conclude and we enter a state of prolonged (or “chronic”) stress, it can adversely affect our physical, mental, and emotional functioning.

Stress elevates cortisol levels, which can cause hypertension, elevated blood sugar levels, hormone imbalances, delayed healing time, and susceptibility to disease. Major life changes, such as financial issues, moving, illness, and the loss of a partner and beloved friends, are all stressful events. Our outlook on aging, and how we process these events, determine the toll they take on us.

Research has shown that meditation has a potentially protective effect against memory loss, and can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. In addition, the way we interpret our “lapses” and how we react, can determine how our brains respond. For example, saying, “I feel like I am losing my mind,” and “I can’t think straight anymore” can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Remaining positive helps the brain to stay alert and flexible.

Here are a few suggestions that can make a big difference:

  • Join a local meditation or yoga group.
  • Find a YouTube meditation or yoga video you like and practice at home.
  • Talk about concerns with a good friend, family member, or counselor.
  • Spend time in nature and find other ways of “being in the moment.”
  • Make sure to get enough physical exercise
  • Spend time listening to music you like
  • Yawn frequently and stretch at least once an hour when sitting at a desk or computer screen.