Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stress and Disease After Retirement

Many of us blithely assume that once we retire we will be free of stress.  However, life is not that simple.  Many of the same worries and problems that occupied our minds during our working years will continue to pose concerns for us after we retire.  We may have stress because of financial pressure, marital problems, worry over our adult children or grandchildren, divorce, loneliness, grief over the loss of a loved one, the responsibility of being a caregiver, or the difficulty of dealing with illness in our own lives or the lives of a spouse or family member.

Stress can cause us to eat or drink more than we should, as well as cause us to sleep and exercise less than we should.   It can also result in the release of adrenaline and cortisol into our blood, two hormones that can increase inflammation in our body and make us more sensitive to pain and vulnerable to diseases.

The Relationship Between Stress and Disease

Unfortunately, stress can cause a variety of health issues, according to an article titled, "Stress - Don't Let It Make Your Sick," in the November, 2014 issue of the AARP Bulletin.

Listed below are common health issues that can develop when we are experiencing chronic stress:

The common cold
Weight gain
Slow wound healing
Less effective vaccines
Sleep problems
Heart disease
Depression
Ulcers
Irritable bowel syndrome
Indigestion
Heartburn
Ulcerative colitis
Crohn's disease
Back, neck and shoulder pain

Stress Can Create an Endless Cycle

The problem with stress is that it can start the sufferer on the road to an endless downward spiral.  The stress can contribute to one of the diseases mentioned above; then the disease adds more stress to the person's life.  The worse their health becomes, the more stress they feel.

As a result, one way to improve our overall health is to reduce our stress as much as possible and then learn how to cope with our remaining stress before it wreaks havoc with our immune system.

How to Cope With Stress in Our Lives

Obviously, it is important that we all learn how to recognize the sources of chronic stress in our lives and take steps to reduce its impact on our health.  According to "The Best and Worst Ways to Cope with Stress" from health.com and "Stress Management" from helpguide.org, here are some tools we can all use:

Get outdoors regularly for fresh air and sunshine
Surround yourself indoors with plants 
Eat healthy
Cut back on caffeine and sugar
Avoid alcohol, tobacco and drugs
Identify your sources of stress and start a stress journal
Set up a budget and get your finances under control
Avoid putting unnecessary pressure on yourself
Learn to say "no"
Avoid people and situations that stress you out
Reduce your "to do" list
Manage your time better
Be more assertive about setting reasonable limits
Be flexible and willing to compromise
Learn to adapt
Ask for help, especially if you are a caregiver
Give up perfectionism
Look for the positive in your life; have a gratitude list
Learn to forgive
Learn to share your feelings; call a friend
Get regular exercise
Relax - take yoga or get a massage
Keep a regular sleep schedule and routine
Maintain your spiritual life - church and prayer
Take time for fun!


Get more information on how to deal with stress at:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/stress-management.htm

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20765943,00.html

Looking for more useful health and retirement information?  Use the tabs at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional useful articles.

You are reading from the blog:  http://www.baby-boomer-retirement.com

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1 comment:

  1. Give up perfectionism - sounds easy right? This is a great list for coping with stress!

    ReplyDelete

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