The emotional strain of stress does not discriminate based on age. While many view the “golden” years of retirement for seniors as a time free of worry, responsibility, and obligation, it can in fact be a time of concentrated emotional tension regarding physical health, fixed-income finances and other stressors.
Both acute and chronic stress afflict the elderly and contribute directly to the many adverse health effects of psychological pressure. Thankfully, natural remedies like the continued practice of yoga, namely restorative yoga has proven to combat the short term effects of stress directly and also reduce the inflammation and immune response attributed to long-term emotional suffering.
Sources of Stress For Seniors
So what exactly contributes to the stress that makes yoga a necessary exercise for aging bodies less receptive to recovery? There are many factors that contribute to this widespread mental and physical health risk, such as:
· In the increasingly competitive modern workforce, seniors are staying employed longer than ever. More individuals aged 65+ report working either full or part-time than ever before, with 9 million elderly Americans recorded as active employees in 2016, compared to only 4 million in 2000.
· Budgeting for retirement years on a fixed income
· Death of a spouse, or other family members and friends · Decline of physical health
· The uncertainty of healthcare costs. With the flood of baby boomers onto the nation’s already stretched-too-thin Medicare budget, many seniors are left to deal with a flurry of insurance claims and hefty medical bills.
Yoga as Stress Relief
Can yoga really help to alleviate the stress caused from all of these different sources? The answer is yes. Senior yoga helps aging individuals combat both the mental and physical responses to stress through a variety of ways:
· Stress is often “carried” in the neck, shoulders, and upper back resulting in tensed muscles that leads to poor posture and even chronic pain. Yoga relaxes muscles within an individual’s entire body, thus reducing the physical manifestation of stress.
· Mood booster. Stress contributes directly to feelings of worry and a lack of control, and the breath exercises included in yoga exercise are proven to boost one’s mood and evoke a relaxation response.
· Blood Pressure. Acute stress-related spikes in blood pressure develop into a long-lasting blood pressure condition, which is very common in men over 45 and women over 55. Yoga decreases blood pressure naturally by producing a deep relaxation response in the body, increasing antioxidants and lowering the stress hormone, cortisol.
While yoga does not eliminate the many sources of stress for seniors, it does enable the aging population to control and prevent the negative side effects associated with this emotional tension. The untreated accumulations of stress have serious and long-lasting consequences, combated naturally through the continued practice of yoga exercise.