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Feature Articles - Aging


Managing stress in golden years

Nina Chen, Ph.D., CFLE, former Human Development Specialist, Jackson County, University of Missouri Extension


As you grow older or approach retirement, you may have plans for travel, hobbies, economic comfort and time with friends and family. However, things do not always go as planned and changes in the later years can be stressful. The losses and gains of new roles may not be what you expected either. For instance, retirement may mean more freedom but it also involves losses of challenging work, work relationships, daily routine or a sense of security and role identity. Changing needs within your family can be stressful as well, especially when the changes are unexpected.


You can’t eliminate stress, but you can make choices about how you will manage it. The following suggestions can help manage stress.


Get involved and be active:

  • Take classes and learn new skills from your local MU Extension centers, adult education programs or community centers.
  • Join a group of people or a support group with similar interests or goals.
  • Stay in touch with your relatives and friends through phone calls, emails, letters and visits.
  • Volunteer to help and get in touch with the community, schools or religious activities.
  • Balance your interests and responsibilities.


Eat well and stay healthy:

  • Eat regular meals and snacks, and maintain a balanced diet.
  • Share meal times with friends. Eating with others or at congregate meal sites can help you feel more interested in eating and help reduce loneliness or isolation.
  • Avoid high-fat foods and alcohol.
  • Have regular physical exams.
  • Get enough sleep.


Deal with your emotions:

  • Learn to accept that some things cannot change and there are times when you may feel angry, sad or disappointed.
  • Write a journal to express your feelings or discuss your feelings with others.
  • Don’t expect perfection — be easy on yourself and give yourself credit for even little things that you accomplish.
  • Accept support from neighbors, friends and family.


Learn to relax:

  • Do things you enjoy, like listening to relaxing music. Use whatever form of relaxation works for you as part of your daily life.
  • Take a few deep, cleansing breaths.
  • Exercise regularly by building walking into your daily schedule or joining a walking club.
  • Keep a sense of humor and laugh often.
  • If you cannot deal with your problems or stress on your own, get help.


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Last update: Monday, May 22, 2017