9 Mindful Activities to Help Older Adults Combat Stress

Cost-free ways to bust stress and benefit your health.

By: Lexy Parsons

If you grew up in a time where you were taught to bury your feelings and hide your emotions, you’re certainly not alone. In past generations, discussing emotions was often seen as taboo — even a sign of weakness — and many were encouraged to internalize their feelings. However, times have changed, for the better! While we still have a long way to go, today, our understanding of mental health emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and addressing our emotions. Among this, managing stress is particularly important, as it impacts both our physical and mental well-being. And the thing is, stress can affect anyone, regardless of age. In fact, it’s particularly important for older adults to prioritize stress management, considering it may not come as naturally, yet it can significantly impact physical and mental health.

Ahead, learn simple mindful activities particularly beneficial for older adults to help manage stress and promote better overall health.

The Benefits of Busting Stress, According to Research

Not convinced? Here’s what the research says about the benefits of stress management for older adults. 

9 Stress-Reducing Mindfulness Techniques For Older Adults 

#1 Incorporate Mindful Breathing Techniques

While seemingly simple, recent data has shed light on just how powerful our breath can be. Incorporating mindful breathing into your daily routine has been shown to improve mood, benefit sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and even improve cognitive health. The best part? This simple practice can be done anywhere and at any time. 

Here’s how to get started:

For a self-guided practice, start by finding a comfortable sitting position, ideally in a quiet space. Once settled, close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose. Exhale slowly through your mouth, focusing on trying to elongate your exhale. While doing so, you can also bring awareness to your senses, noticing the sensation of your body expanding and contracting as you breathe in and out, as well as any smells or sounds. Repeat this technique for a few minutes, gradually increasing the duration over time, as you become more comfortable.

Not ready to get started on your own? Here are some FitOn guided breathing techniques to help you get grounded and calm:

#2 Ground Down With Gentle Yoga or Tai Chi

Yin activities like gentle yoga and tai chi can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and improve overall health — both physically and mentally! Whether it’s following a guided FitOn flow or joining a class at your local fitness center or studio, this mindfulness practice can bring ease into your life while helping you stay active, agile, and mobile for years to come.

Ready to get started? Give these FitOn flows a try:

#3 Consider Guided Meditation

If you’re new to meditation, it can feel daunting at first. However, it’s one of the best ways to minimize stress and promote mindfulness, according to science. Plus, with so many different styles of meditation, there’s something for everyone! This could be a guided FitOn meditation or Yoga Nidra session, an in-person meditation at your local yoga or fitness studio, or a simple self-guided meditation in any way that feels right for you. 

Here are some mindful FitOn meditations to consider:

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#4 Try Mindful Walking or Walking Meditation

Speaking of meditation, a walking meditation is a great mindfulness activity to consider, especially if you struggle to quiet your mind in a seated meditation. It combines the physical benefits of exercise with the mental benefits of mindfulness, helping to reduce stress and improve mood on an even deeper level! On that note, walking in and of itself is a powerful mindfulness tool, too. Shown to boost mood, improve cardiovascular and mental health, reduce cortisol levels, and benefit sleep, there are so many reasons to increase your steps throughout the day.

RELATED: Think You Can’t Meditate? Here’s Why Walking Meditation is Different

#5 Cultivate a Community or Spend Time With Loved Ones 

Whether it’s calling your kids or grandkids, meeting your neighbor for a walk, or joining the local yoga studio or church, spending time with friends or loved ones is important in reducing stress and promoting overall well-being. In fact, research shows it’s one of the best ways to enhance longevity and boost happiness. Engaging in social activities helps to alleviate feelings of loneliness and isolation, which are common stressors for older adults. By sharing experiences, laughing more, and offering mutual support, you can better navigate life’s challenges. You don’t have to do it alone!

RELATED: The 7 Longevity Secrets of Centenarians For Living Better

#6 Learn to Laugh More

The expression “don’t sweat the small stuff” holds a lot of truth! Making light of situations or finding reasons to laugh — even in the midst of intense stress — can be one of the best and easiest things we can do for our health. Laughter releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, which can help reduce stress and improve mood. Not to mention, laughter can strengthen social bonds, providing emotional support and connection, thereby enhancing overall well-being.

#7 Use Journaling As An Outlet

If you’re not comfortable talking about your feelings, consider journaling! Write down whatever is on your mind, and don’t hold back. It might feel uncomfortable at first, as if you don’t know where to start or what to say. But, give it a try. Start by grabbing a journal (even a blank piece of paper and a pen) and write down whatever comes to mind, without judgment. It can help you release pent-up thoughts and feelings, or simply reflect on anything that’s on your mind. Try journaling during different times of the day, such as first thing in the morning, after a stressful day at work, or right before bed, when your thoughts seem to be racing.

#8 Take Up a New Hobby

Whether it’s woodwork, painting, pottery, gardening, or learning to play the guitar, there are so many things you can do to get out of your head and into your body. Engaging in a new hobby (or revisiting an old one!) can help express emotions and relieve stress in a positive way. Plus, it can bring newfound joy into your life. There’s no right or wrong activity here — it’s all about finding what lights you up! So, go explore.

#9 Listen to More Music

Listening to music has been shown to lower stress, improve mood, benefit cognitive health, and provide a sense of relaxation. Plus, it’s nostalgic and when chosen mindfully, can elicit happy memories and emotions. Choose songs that you find relaxing or uplifting, and bring more mindfulness while you listen. Pay attention to the sounds, lyrics, and feelings evoked during each song, and notice how playing music at various times of day changes your mood and stress. You could listen to music while cooking or cleaning, during a walk or workout, or simply while sitting quietly inside or in nature.

RELATED: Can Music Improve Your Workouts?

The Takeaway

No matter your age, remember that it’s never too late to start practicing mindfulness techniques for stress. Whether it’s taking up a new hobby, connecting with your community, laughing more with loved ones, or incorporating more movement into your day, there are so many ways to combat stress and improve your overall health. Give these techniques a try, and feel free to experiment with any additional techniques that resonate with you! Here’s to a happier, healthier, and less stressed you.