Eliminate unneeded stress for healthy second half of life

Exercise is a key component to enjoying the second half of life.  Credit: Al Bello/Allsport

The oldest baby boomers are beginning to put longevity at the top of their priority list. Child-rearing, their careers and other issues that once headed the list are beginning to change.

Their children are becoming more self-sufficient and beginning to leave the nest.

Competitiveness to reach the top, experienced early in their careers, is being modified or replaced with a more relaxed acceptance of their accomplishments, and they're beginning thoughts about retirement.

Most marriages have become more stable, often after having survived financial struggles, child-rearing challenges and wandering hormones.

Having gone past the half-century mark, a person's own mortality begins to emerge as a more prominent part of his or her consciousness.

Vitamins, nutrition and diet are assuming a more prominent place in baby boomers' lifestyles. Exercise is becoming more important, and even routine, and is considered essential to those interested in life extension. Sunscreen, facelifts, hair transplants and other cosmetic changes are being added to the arsenal that this group will use to slow down the enemyage and poor health.

But many in this 50-plus generation overlook the important and powerful contribution that a healthy psychological perspective plays in successfully aging. Resistance to disease and disability is compromised by both the aging process itself and stress. Struggles resulting in chronic tension and fatigue, depressed and anxious moods and feelings of discouragement and helplessness all increase the risk of a premature decline in health.

Self-control

Practiced on a regular basis, self-control procedures can assist in managing stress, improving sleep, lowering blood pressure, decreasing fatigue and managing anger and anxiety. Many techniques are available to those desiring to add this powerful self-help tool to their wellness program. Meditation and yoga, both offered at exercise and health facilities, community colleges, hospitals and churches, can be of help. Training programs in relaxation, biofeedback and self-hypnosis can also be of help.

Practiced on a regular basis, these self-control procedures enable the individual to lower his or her overall level of emotional reactivity and neutralize the potentially harmful effects of chronically produced stress hormones.

Eliminate the negative

A dedicated effort should be made to identify and reduce areas in one's life where stress, tension and unhappiness occur. Decide that you are not going to spend the second half of life draining creative energy, struggling against obstacles that need to be removed or gone around, wallowing in self-pity or substance abuse difficulties, consumed by anger or bitterness, encumbered by unresolved grief or beaten down with poor self-esteem. All of these can be modified or changed to increase what most of us call happiness and decrease the harmful side effects of these problems.

Decide that change is possible and essential for a healthy second half of life.


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