Aging Can Be Stressful: Burning Out as a Grandparent

Grandparents face many stressful life changes and stress-inducing facets of life: death of a spouse, divorce of a long-time spouse, declining health, retirement, divorce and other problems of adult children to name a few.

Headache and increased susceptibility illness are common results of stress.

Stress is the body’s physical, mental, and chemical reaction to circumstances that frighten, excite, confuse, endanger, or irritate us. It can depress us, irritate us, and even make us susceptible to chronic or life-threatening disease.

Having reached the middle-to old age of most grandparents, we face deaths of our family members, death of our spouse, divorce from a long-time spouse, divorce and other problems of adult children, and our own declining bodies. Even the long-awaited birth of a new grand baby can be stressful.

Yet stress in itself can contribute to the decline of our bodies and the rise of chronic diseases.

What can we do to reduce stress in our own life?

Research has shown good nutrition and sleep to be good coping strategies for combating the extra demands that stress places on your body. This is especially important for the first two years after spousal death or after separation/divorce.

Physical exercise is the king of stress relief. It relaxes your tensed muscles, increases your energy, helps you sort out problems, and improves your immune system and your self-image.

A regular program of aerobic exercise for at least 20 minutes three times weekly help counteract the physiological and psychological toll that stress causes. Aerobic exercise can be fast walking, bicycling, swimming, aerobic dancing, rowing, or jogging.

Physical exercise has another bonus. It improves the way you look to others and raises your self-esteem. Often high self-esteem makes you better able to cope with stress.

Too many people coping with stress is equated with taking tranquilizers, drinking, smoking or abusing other drugs.

Don’t do it! These methods only create further stress on your body.

Learn a deep relaxation technique instead. Twenty minutes daily spent in deep relaxation also decreases stress. It makes you feel calm, less anxious and less tense.

Deep relaxation will introduce you to a method of relaxing during stressful times. You might also want to explore hypnosis. It has been a great stress reducer for many singles.

Massage has also been shown to be beneficial during times of stress. There is something very relaxing about the human touch for adults and children alike.

If exercise is the king of stress reduction, meditation is the queen. Find a meditation class near you, learn to meditate, then practice this stress-reduction technique daily.

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