Studies have shown that as we age, our stress levels increase. As the years go by the stress hormones produced in our adrenal glands can go into overdrive and produce more and more periods of anxiety.
Unfortunately for us, stress is also connected to the decline in memory and brain function, so if we can lower our stress levels as we age we can help to fight off memory decay, higher blood pressure and age-related stress & anxiety disorder.
Thankfully, the ageing process takes many years and there are a number of good ways to lower our stress levels and dramatically slow down the process of stress overload induced cognitive decline.
It might sound cliche but working on brain exercises throughout your life really can strengthen your mind muscles. Games like crosswords, Sudoku, online number solving puzzles all need you to engage the right kind of concentration that builds mental resilience to stress and decline. So start doing them today. Just for 5 minutes at a time. Make them a daily habit and reap the rewards as you do so.
Obesity, or simply carrying a bit too much weight can be another factor in stress creation. But more importantly the type of nutrition that you feed into your body is key to keeping your stress and energy levels in tip top condition as you age. When they say you are what you eat, they’re right. The more nutritious your diet is the more smoothly and efficiently all of your internal organs function and this includes your ability to manage the build up of stress hormones during periods of anxiety as you age.
- Be sure to have 5 or more portions of fruit and veg each day
- Eat plenty of fibre and wholegrains.
- Lower your intake of red meat - replace with fish, chicken or tofu/meat alternatives
- Try not to snack too often - replace crisps, chocolates etc with fruit, nuts and veg snacks.
- Drink plenty of water - at least 8-10 glasses per day. Fruit teas are a great way to get more fluid in during colder months.
Gentle breathing techniques are convenient and fast-acting stress relievers. When you feel anxiety coming on, just stop and breathe slowly. Breathe in for a slow count of 5, hold for 2 then breathe out for a slow count of 10. Repeat a few times until you feel your stress levels lowering.
Practicing a few rounds of gently breathing each day before anxiety hits might also help to prevent more anxious moments occurring in the first place.
Use a different angle
Also known as cognitive restructuring, the practice of looking at a situation from a different angle can sometimes provide a more positive perspective and therefore lower any chance of a stressful response. When you find that stress is starting to take over your life or that you’re struggling to manage your anxiety then perhaps you might consider seeking clinical or professional help. Cognitive Therapy can help you to start restructuring how you look at stressful scenarios and give you the tools to deal with the extra stress hormones that occur as you age.
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