Stress Reduction for Seniors: Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques to Sleep Well

Many think of their retirement years as opportunities to kick back, relax, spend more quality time with those they love, and take on new interests. Unfortunately, aging can also prevent some of those things from happening. Aging can provide more problems than expected, which paves the way for stress and anxiety.

You may face more health problems as you get older, more financial issues, and a loss of independence. Stress and anxiety can become more prominent for older adults going through such significant life changes and health issues, so knowing how to use mindful techniques to relax and rest can help you manage those tough challenges. 

If you’re finding it difficult to relax and unwind to get more restful sleep as you age, you may want to incorporate some helpful mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your nighttime routine at home. Here are some useful tactics that may help you slow down and calm yourself so you can sleep well.

Deep Breathing

Being more mindful means being in the present to focus on yourself, which often involves some deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing is a very powerful strategy to help people relax when feeling anxious or bogged down with stress. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, sending a signal to your brain to feel safe, receive more oxygen, and feel more calm. 

A helpful deep breathing exercise technique to try is called the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Inhale slowly for four full counts, hold your breath in for seven counts, and then gradually exhale for eight counts. Taking slow, deep breaths and focusing on the breath going in and out helps lower your resting blood pressure and reduce stress to help you relax and fall asleep more quickly.


Meditation for mindfulness can help you, just like deep breathing, to focus entirely on the present moment and allow stress and anxiety to leave the body. It provides a variety of mental health benefits, so you’re sure to relax more fully and rest. 

Meditation only needs to last a few minutes before going to sleep for you to experience relaxation. You can do mindfulness on your own or utilize audio/video resources that can help you get started. It allows you to feel more present in your daily life so you can quickly sink into your weighted body support pillow and cuddle for restful sleep. 


Workouts at bedtime are not advised since raising your heart rate can prevent you from getting rest, but low-impact exercise can be helpful. Lower impact movements and stretches at bedtime can help since they allow you to relieve stress and feel ready for sleep.

Seniors may find that exercising is more of a challenge, but there are many low-impact options that don’t require heavy lifting or lots of movement. Chair yoga or water aerobics are excellent exercises that help, or you could do something simple, such as going for a walk after dinner each night for some stress relief. There are numerous wellness programs for seniors to choose from.

Get Outdoors

Believe it or not, being out in nature is an underutilized way to help you relax and unwind after a long day. Getting outdoors and experiencing nature can help clear your mind and provide a sense of serenity, allowing you to relax. 

Just exposing yourself to fresh air has been beneficial in relieving stress and anxiety. Oxygen affects the levels of serotonin, which contributes to feelings of relaxation and happiness. 

Consider incorporating outdoor activities throughout your day to allow you to breathe fresh air and take in the beauty. Gardening is one such hobby that seniors can do, or take a nature walk or a short hike. The movement helps exert your body’s energy and provides a sense of calm so you can rest more easily.


The sense of smell is one of the most powerful of all your senses since it can trigger emotions and stir up fond memories. Aromatherapy is a method for relaxation that many seniors can use to help improve sleep troubles. Essential oils made from herbs, flowers, roots, and more work to activate areas of the brain that help you feel good and relieve stress. 

You might want to invest in an oil diffuser and have it next to your bed. A few drops of essential oil of your favorite scent (lavender, chamomile, cedarwood, and bergamot are a few suggestions) diluted in water in a diffuser can provide a smell so calm and relaxing that you’ll drift off to sleep in no time. You can also add the scents to things like baths, laundry, or candles. 


If you enjoy music, consider listening to it to help calm you and get you to sleep. There are plenty of options for calming and serene music that you can listen to shortly before bed or even while in bed to help you free your mind, feel relaxed, and quickly fall asleep. Avoid music with a heavy beat or too uptempo; incorporate songs with no lyrics meant to provide a calming effect. 

Like smells, sometimes music can help evoke or trigger fond memories or thoughts. Consider listening to something that reminds you of a time when you knew you were relaxed and happy so you can bring those thoughts forward and allow yourself to feel that way again, helping the stresses of your day to melt away.

Talk To Your Doctor

You may feel the stresses of aging and struggle with insomnia or falling asleep. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about what else you can do for relaxation, stress relief, and better sleep. 

Utilizing these stress reduction techniques is helpful, but in some cases, you may feel you require more assistance. It may be possible that mental health counseling could be recommended by your physician or even medication, depending on the severity of your stress. 

By incorporating more mindfulness, taking care of your body, and taking on new meaningful interests or hobbies, you can guide yourself into a more relaxed state. It will ensure you sleep feeling relaxed and wake up feeling refreshed!