Using Tai Chi to Relieve Stress

Tai-chi"How can you be stressed?  You're retired!"

Little do friends and family members know, but retirees can get stressed out about all kinds of things... money, relationships, boredom - even too many calls on your time and attention from family members who think you have nothing better to do than pick up the slack for them!

When it comes to managing stress, the strategies are not a 'one-size-fits-all' proposition. What works for one may not work for you. And, what works right now could change in the future. If you're looking for something to try, consider Tai Chi as a way to relieve stressors in your life or to keep them at bay.

What Is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi is an ancient form of Chinese martial arts, although it doesn’t involve kicking and punching like many of the other forms. It's derived from “qigong” and emphasizes breathing, focusing the mind and fluid movement. Just about anyone, young or old, can learn to perform tai chi. It's a “soft” form of martial arts and has many hidden benefits.

“Chi” refers to the life force of an entity. It's this life force that flows freely through someone to maintain internal balance and order. According to ancient Eastern tradition, chi travels along paths called “meridians.” When there is trouble, whether external or internal, these meridian channels become blocked and the energy is disrupted. That's believed to be why illness results within the body.

Through a series of movements, balance can be restored to your body. There are many styles of Tai Chi so it's best to learn from a professionally-trained teacher. Once you gain competence in your particular style, the movements can be completed on your own whenever you feel the need to apply them.

Because Tai Chi is a low-impact form of exercise, it's perfect for those of us who aren't in the first flush of youth and most people will usually have no trouble properly executing the moves and achieving both mental and physical benefits.

The Benefits of Tai Chi

When performed correctly and regularly, the benefits of Tai cChi begin to manifest themselves in your life and your body. These benefits include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased aerobic capacity – The heart and lungs perform their functions more efficiently. More oxygen gets to the brain, increasing mental acuity and focus.

  • More energy – The lack of energy is one reason for stress. When you feel capable of doing more, it's easier to accomplish more on a daily basis.

  • Decreased anxiety and stress – Endorphins are released during physical exercise. They create a feeling of euphoria and wellbeing that can assist with managing stressful situations. They may also encourage more positive self-talk in your mind.

  • Better sleep – Sleep allows the body to repair and restore itself. Sleeping well can mean that you're ready to face the next day and whatever it brings.

  • Increased balance and flexibility – This becomes more important as we get older and affects our ability to perform everyday activities like sitting, standing, bending and reaching.

If you're looking for a way to reduce your stress levels while increasing positivity in your life, Tai Chi could just do it for you!

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What's happening in Greater Manchester this week?

Manchester retirementThere's always something happening in Greater Manchester... here's a round-up of some of the activities and events coming up for week beginning 22 June from our Manchester Retirement blog:

Fancy a dance?  Then put your dancing shoes on and get yourself over to Fallowfield on Wednesday morning to try out one of the Dance for Everyone sessions.

Is walking more your style?  Manchester and Salford Ramblers have an evening walk (Reddish Vale) and a Saturday walk (Macclesfield Forest) coming up this week...

Walking Football's becoming very popular - did you see the feature on 'North West Tonight' this week?  There are Walking Football sessions available in Swinton, Irlam, Eccles, Ordsall, Wythenshaw, Collyhurst and Levenshulme.  (If you know of any more, leave a comment below and I'll post details.)

Manchester International Festival is coming up - have a look at the programme events and plan which ones you want to attend before it all kicks off on Thursday 2nd July.

If you like to chat about art, you'll be in good company on Wednesday at one of Manchester Galleries' Art Bites Discussions.

Refugee Week (which is actually more like Refugee Fortnight) is still running at IWM North until 30 June -  explore real stories of people forced by conflict to leave their homes. Hear why Saranda Bogujevci, who escaped from Kosovo to Manchester, won the Anne Frank Award for Moral Courage and discover how aid worker Emma Kay helped people fleeing from NATO air strikes on Albania and Macedonia in 1999.

Finally, 'Ageing in Cities', a seminar co-hosted by the OECD and Manchester City Council, takes place on Friday 26 June 14.00 - 16.30 at Manchester Town Hall.

See you at the Manchester Retirement blog for more information on all the above.  Oh, and, if you have a Kindle Unlimited account, don't forget to pick up your copy of our Retirement Life Inventory, free of charge.  (If you like it, please leave some feedback!)

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Great Quotes: On getting your retirement butt into gear

“When you’ve worked all your life, and you’ve worked hard, long hours, then all of a sudden there’s nothing, it leads to a blank mind and you’ve got to find something to do otherwise you’ll go stir-crazy. You can’t get up in the morning, watch television, then go to bed at night – that’s more or less waiting for God isn’t it? So you’ve got to start looking at projects.”

— Cultural Engagement Project Participant, Gateshead, UK


Are you retired and living in the Greater Manchester area?

Manchester retirementIf you live in the Greater Manchester area of the UK, check out our Manchester Retirement blog...  it contains details of a wide range of leisure, wellbeing, education and voluntary opportunities that should keep you out of trouble!

Posts this week include:

Get Active with Active Lifestyles - run by Manchester City Council  and offering a range of weekly physical activity classes across the city suitable for older people.

Front Row: Film Showings for the Over 50's in Newton Heath

Volunteer Centre, Manchester  - provides information, support and training to Manchester residents who want to volunteer.


Take an Inspiration Day by Steve Pavlina

Inspiration dayThanks to Steve Pavlina for the following article.  Hopefully, you'll be inspired to take a day to try out something new!

Have you ever felt the urge to explore a totally different field, skill, or interest for a while?

What is it you’d like to try, if you only had the time? Music? Programming? Web design? Entrepreneurship? Camping? A new exercise? A better way of eating? A new social group?

But then of course, you talk yourself out of it, don’t you? You probably tell yourself things like:

I can’t be starting something new right now.

I have too many other things to deal with.

It would take a big commitment to get anywhere with this, and I don’t have that kind of time.

I’m not ready to transition yet.

No one is forcing you to commit though. Commitment is unnecessary at this point. Why not simply taste and sample your new interest? Give it a day to impress you.

Set aside one day to explore your new interest. Say yes to it for one day only. During that day let it guide you, lead you, and make its case for further exploration.

Fire up GarageBand, and try writing your very first song. It’ll probably suck, but so what? It will be your own creation.

Film some video with your phone, fire up iMovie, and make your first movie. You’ll learn a great deal by doing.

Go to an art supply store, tell an employee you want to try painting, and ask for help to buy the bare minimum supplies you need to paint for one day. Take it home, and paint the day away. See what flows through you. Maybe you’re more creative than you realize.

Spend a day researching and reading about a whole new field — the one that keeps coming up for you recently.

Go out and visit stores you wouldn’t ordinarily visit. Talk to the salespeople. Ask all the questions you can think of. Become as much of an expert as you can in one day.

Go vegan for a day, and you’ll save more water than you would by not showering for a year. There are thousands of free recipes online, so use Google to find them. Make a shopping list, cook up a storm, and have a feast.

Read about the equipment in a part of the gym you never visit. Learn some exercises you can do. Then do a full workout there. It will give you a nice sense of accomplishment.

Have you ever played tennis? Disc golf? The equipment is cheap. Go have your first game.

After that one immersive day, you’ll be a slightly different person. You’ll have a fresher understanding of your interest. And you’ll be in a better position to assess and evaluate whether you’d like to explore it further.

Maybe one day is all you need. You satisfied your curiosity and discovered that the door wasn’t for you. That’s a good outcome since you won’t have to worry about those distracting urges for years to come.

Maybe that day triggers many more questions. You got a taste, but it wasn’t enough. You want more. So take more inspiration days, half days, quarter days, or whatever you need to continue your exploration. Lean into it more.

Maybe that day was amazing — full of rapid learning and encouraging progress. You walked through a door and discovered a delightful new path. Wonderful! Keep going. Let the inspiration continue to motivate you.

What if nothing inspires you? Then you’re not listening very well. If you can’t hear the voice of inspiration, turn down the volume of everything else. Turn off the distractions like the constantly buzzing phone, sit quietly by yourself, and take an hour to simply listen. Reflect on your life, your lifestyle, your work or school, your relationships, your finances, and your body. Listen to your thoughts. Hear yourself think. Notice your feelings.

What’s nudging you to change, grow, or shift? Where do you notice a pushing or pulling sensation? Where’s the dissatisfaction? Where’s the disappointment? Where’s the gentle request to try something new and different?

Maybe you have many commitments already. Maybe you’re busy. Maybe you have some great excuses. Give your inspirations an outlet anyway — a small slice of your time. Otherwise they’ll poke you… then nag you… then eventually overload you with regret.

Give an inspiration a day to make its case. Open the box and peer inside. Listen, taste, and explore.


What's lighting you up today?

Lighting you upAbout 4 years ago, I changed the way I talk to clients about retirement.  I used to ask them what they wanted their retirement to look like.  And then I came to the realization that it doesn't matter a jot what their retirement LOOKS like.  It can LOOK happy, successful, prosperous - and all those other good things that we want our retirement to be... but if it doesn't FEEL good, then none of the rest matters!

So, with that in mind, I invite you to take a look at the coming week, and all the things you have planned for it and ask yourself these questions:

How do you FEEL about the stuff that you've got on your calendar?

and

How do you FEEL about the people you'll be spending your time with?

And, since I love a good thought-provoker, try these too:

What's lighting you up today?

and

What are you really looking forward to doing this week?

And, finally, if your answers to the above have left you feeling a little less than enthusiastic...

What's the next step?