The Source for Health and Stress News You Can Use

Stress - Use It Wisely and Stay Younger

Share Stressipedia - Help us grow!

Are you at that "golden" age when retirement is looming, or has already loomed?   For years, we have all thought of retirement as the reward for a lifetime of work, but the reality is quite different. 

To be sure, we all know how much we enjoy a surprise day off during a blizzard, or our routine free days on the weekend or on summer holidays.  Well, an idle retirement is not just an endless multiple of these marvelous mini-holidays.  The lack of stress leads to boredom, and a lonely sense that all your working friends have forgotten you, which, after a while is quite true.  Soon one day blends into the next, and, with the absense of any time pressures or deadlines, tasks that you used to do quickly in the middle of a busy schedule now drag on for weeks.  The sense of purpose or mission is gone, paradoxically at the time in life when one needs little sleep, and has the greatest levels of intellectual and experiential resourses. 

Those who are married note that their spouses have to make considerable adjustments to their partners constant proximity, many throwing up their hands in frustration, saying "I married you for better or for worse, but not for lunch".  Arguments increase, and, in many cases, eventually conversation itself becomes extinct.  I have been in many holiday resorts such as in Las Vegas, where thousands of retired couples take vacations, and have observed them in restaurants.  Those who are with friends are quite animated, while an alarming number of those couples who are eating alone will sit in silence, each person eating their meals as if there was no one else at the table.  This is in direct contrast to newly-weds, who are in animated conversations discussing their dreams, aspirations, and the stresses that they face each day.  The retired folks, having reached their dream of stopping work, having aspired to endless free time, and having not one stress or challenge left worth talking about, have simply run out of things to say.  The particularily sad part of this scenario that happens to those who retire idly is that the consequenses are far more dangerous than simple boredom or lonliness.  The medical statistics are truly alarming.  Within a few short years, these idle seniors will become  senile, or even dead.  I've seen it happen time and time again with my patients. 

Count Otto von Bismark was the man who arbitrarily picked 65 as the age of retirement, primarily because few people reached that stage in his era.  But many, such as  Winston Churchill, George Burns, Bob Hope, and Sister Theresa,  have ignored this tradition, and continued to work and face considerable stresses long after this age. As a direct result, they all stay young in spirit, and in body, long after their idle peers have passed on or become senile.  Stress makes us think.  Stress makes us react.  It gives us a mission to achieve.  It gives us the fullest possible range of emotions, from  moments of exhilaration to moments of sadness.  In other words stress makes us feel alive, and when it is removed from our lives we suddenly feel and look old.  For centuries man has looked for ways to prolong our lives, and Ponce de Leon, for one, thought he found it.  But the real fountain of youth has been with us all along, and we have not only ignored it in our elder years, but we have actually sought ways to protect ourselves from it.  It seems that even in this age of miracle cures and laser surgery, common sense isn't very common after all. 

Here's an action tip. 

Benjamin Franklin once said "there's nothing wrong with retirement, as long as it doesn't interfere with your work".  

Wise words.  If company or government policy force you from your job, get busy finding new challenges.  If you are voluntarily  dictating your retirement, think again.  Whether it is in the form of taking courses, learning a new language, sport, or skill, or starting up your own small business, stress, as long as it is handled competently, will keep you younger longer

Share Stressipedia - Help us grow!

Stress: The Fountain of Youth!

Share Stressipedia - Help us grow!

Stress has always been considered a bad element in our lives.  In fact, the whole basis for financial planning is all about achieving a stress-free status.  We have called them the "Golden Years", and , for many, the goal is to be as idle as possible.  No kids to raise, no more mortgage to pay, no need to go into work on Monday.  But the economy has changed the whole dynamic of retirement.  With home equity slashed, with retirement funds severely shrunken, and with the collapse interest paid on savings, most people nearing their sixties are afraid they might never retire.  But is an active retirement such a bad thing?

Mercifully, idleness is not at all the goal we imagined.  We can take heart in some excellent examples of people who do not retire. 
Christopher Plummer


Christopher Plummer, the famous movie actor, could certainly spend his days languishing on a porch somewhere, and never having to work again.  Or he could certainly show up for a few well paying cameo appearances in the movies, and still have most of the week off.  Instead, he works in Stratford Ontario, at one of the most stressful jobs in his industry: live Shakesperian theater. 

The rehearsals are very stressful for both brain and body.  The brain needs to quickly assimilate all of the lines of the actor, plus know the other players movements and cues.  The body also has challenges; Plummer notes that his back aches from hours of standing on the cement rehearsal floor.

Then the real stress begins, with opening night, and every performance thereafter.  The live audience sits just a few paces away, close enough to see any blemish, or even the explosive drops of spittle that might be projected along with the lines.  No luxury of the movies here: no director shouting "CUT", no editor hiding any mistake of movement or memory, and no camera-man to film "Do-Overs".  The most stressful scrutiny in the business, and, for Christopher Plummer, just about the least pay per week that he could earn.



So why does he do it?  Its the Stress: if he was just reading Shakespeare to himself on the porch, he would probably never memorize the lines properly! 

1. For the body to stay young, avoid sloth.  Our muscle tissue needs exercise to stay toned.  The metaphorical rocking chair is good for recess, but not for your only exercise.  I remind my patients that there are hundreds of sports, and many other ways to exercise from Yoga to Dance.  Just pick something(s) that you are suited to, and that you will actually do.

2. For the brain to stay young, avoid mental sloth: never seek an idle retirement.   If you can keep working at your current job, consider doing so, even if it is for a few less hours than before.  If you cannot, or would like a career change, consider learning new skills as part of your "retirement" preparation.  No reason why we all can't be able to type, download, and process new skills.  If you are lucky enough to have preserved your financial status, you still need to work at something, but make sure there is some stress to it.  Hitting a plastic golf ball in your garage is not any good, you need to have the stress of keeping score on a real course.  If you are going to study a course, take one with an exam, preferrably even one where you have had to pay some tuition. If you are going to learn a new language, make sure you try speaking it to real people, not just mumbling it to yourself in your room. 

Remember Hanson's Stress Rule of "F"s:   Fear Forges Focus!  

Then the stress of aging can keep you young at heart. 

To see live Shakespeare for yourself, contact

Share Stressipedia - Help us grow!

Subscribe to get Stressipedia updates by email