As many of us realize as we get older, life tends to get more stressful as we take on new responsibilities and more difficult challenges. This typically happens as we learn more about the world around us and strive to add more achievements to our name despite the amount of work it takes. This large amount of planning, thinking, and completing can take a toll on our mental health as we strain ourselves to work harder, do better, and do more. It is important to take a step back from the fast pace of life, especially as we grow older, and take time to appreciate the little things that make us truly happy.
Studies show that older people who have experienced numerous stressful situations tend to perform worse on cognitive tasks than those who have experienced less stress. This was shown through EEG scans that depicted different patterns of brain activity in these two groups of people, showing that stress affects the area of the brain, which is responsible for new memories, the hippocampus. In order to avoid this from happening, treatment includes exploring coping strategies that work for each individual, as every person has different preferences.
For many, these strategies revolve around meditation and mindfulness due to its ability of allowing peace and happiness to enter into one’s mind. It also gives the individual some time to release their stress and reclaim their center of focus, producing feelings of accomplishment and motivation towards goals. On the other hand, there are more preventative methods such as making sure not to overwork oneself which is a common occurrence for many resulting in exhaustion and possible depression. Instead, it is important to spend more time with family and encourage oneself to stay in the moment rather than let work thoughts drift into the brain. Other options that have proven to increase happiness and decrease stress are volunteer work, keeping in touch with friends, practicing gratitude, and exercise often.
All of these options have proven to be beneficial to people, however it is your job to find out which one is the best fit. On top of it all, make sure to talk about your problems and concerns to family or friends and if needed, ask for help. A well-balanced life is key to feeling content and happy as you progress further through life phases and continue to gain more responsibilities.