Fostering Mental Health and Well-Being: Healthy Habits for Older Adults

January 11, 2017

By Jason Lewis

Older adults are increasingly aware of the importance of staying physically healthy as they age, but too many neglect their mental well-being. Seniors are at an increased risk of social isolation, which can lead to depression and other mental health consequences. Here are a few healthy habits for older adults that will help you maintain sound mental health throughout your golden years.

Stay Physically Active

Most often, we think of exercise as a way to maintain physical health, but fitness is an important aspect of emotional well-being, too. Exercise can be a coping strategy for managing stress, and it can also improve your mood. Staying physically active helps you maintain balance and strength, which can reduce the odds of developing mobility issues, making it easier for you to remain socially active as you grow older.

Adopt a Furry Friend

Caring for a pet provides a sense of purpose, giving seniors someone to take care of who, in return, provides companionship, a reason to get out of bed in the morning, motivation to take walks and stay active, and much more. Dogs have even been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of depression. When you’re feeling lonely or down, a dog or cat will always be willing to snuggle up beside you and comfort you.

Stay Connected to Friends and Family

Socialization is crucial for the well-being of older adults, yet far too many seniors end up spending most of their time alone, isolated from the outside world. Technology makes it easy to stay in touch with friends and family near and far, but it’s not a substitute for face-to-face interaction with others. Visit a local senior center to learn about the activities offered and find something that interests you, or join a senior fitness group or walking club to meet new people and develop friendships with like-minded older adults.

Say No to Activities That Don’t Bring You Joy

As an older adult, you may be increasingly aware that there’s only so much time in each day. Learn to say no to activities that don’t bring you joy, and find ways to offload mundane tasks that cause stress or frustration. You can hire a housekeeper to clean your home, for instance, if it takes too much of your valuable time to keep up with it or it’s becoming too difficult for you to do physically. If the thought of mowing the lawn makes you cringe, hire a local lawn maintenance company or an independent contractor to do it for you.

Find a Hobby

After carving out time by eliminating the tasks that you don’t enjoy, you’ll have more time to pursue things you’re passionate about. It’s never too late to take up a new hobby or pursue an interest, whether that means going back to school, starting a business, or maintaining a robust garden in your backyard. The sky’s the limit, and there’s no reason to hold yourself back from learning new things or finally using your time to do the things that fuel your soul.

Staying mentally healthy as you age is all about prioritizing your life, making time for the things that matter, and learning to let go of the things that take up your valuable time but offer little reward in return. It’s your life, and you should never feel guilty about prioritizing your mental health and building a life that you enjoy.

Image via Pixabay by emailme3

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