We all know there are physical challenges that come with aging. There are challenges to our mental health as well.
Here are some easy-to-follow tips you can use to keep mentally healthy as you age.
1. Seniors should socialize for good mental health
Relationships help you feel connected and supported. Building new relationships and keeping up old ones will keep you mentally healthy. Here are some relationship-building ideas for you to try.
- If you’re in a senior community, get involved in activities that interest you. This gives you a chance to meet folks with similar interests.
- If you’re not in a senior living community, check out the offerings at your local senior center.
- In these times of social distancing, use technology to stay in touch. Try to supplement online meetings with small, in-person gatherings.
- Stay in touch with family and friends. Don’t hesitate to reach out.
2. Getting out and moving boosts mental health
You’ve heard of the mind-body connection? Well, here’s a good example. Physical exercise causes changes in brain chemistry that boost your mood. Here are some things to try that will get you moving:
- Join a gym or use the equipment in your building’s workout room
- Join a workout or yoga class
- Work out to videos you find online
- Take a walk outside – in your neighborhood, in a park, around an outdoor shopping center
Getting out of your home is a positive. A change of scene will do you good, even if it’s just on another floor in the same building. But outside is best. Exposure to the natural world is restorative.
Remember that sitting is not good for you. If you spend a lot of time reading, crafting, or watching TV, try getting up every hour to move. You’ll feel better.
3. Seniors should challenge their brains
Your brain needs a workout, just like your body. We’re not talking about entertainment like TV, movies, or even reading. These should be activities that provide a challenge, like
- Puzzles – crosswords, jigsaw, Sudoku
- Games, like Scrabble, bridge (ones that require thinking or skill)
- Classes, workshops, seminars
- New hobbies
- DIY projects
4. Seniors can help themselves by helping others
Time is one of the advantages of retirement. When you give your time to others, you feel rewarded and good about yourself. Connecting with and helping other people gets you out of yourself and improves your state of mind.
Giving back can mean small acts of individual kindness or volunteering in your community. You can tailor your involvement, so it fits your interests, capabilities, and lifestyle. Here are some ideas for giving back and paying forward:
- Spend time with someone who needs support or company
- Help with a DIY or work project
- Volunteer at a school, hospital, or care home
- If you’re a churchgoer, look for volunteer opportunities there
5. As a senior, take care of yourself and your mental health
Rest, healthy food, and exercise are important for your mental health and physical health. And you can’t give to others if you’re not in top shape. Here are some healthy lifestyle suggestions.
- How much sleep you need is personal, but 7-8 hours a night is the norm. Whatever’s right for you, set a regular bedtime and time to get up.
- Eat a diet that’s more weighted towards complex carbs and veggies than donuts.
- Move your body every day. Check with your physician for recommendations.
Challenge keeps a brain happy. If your kids are fledged and you’ve retired, it can take effort to stay physically healthy, socially active, and mentally engaged as you age. If you are interested in aging in place it’s an effort that’s worth taking since these are the keys to boosting your mental health.