Roughly 20% of people aged 55 and older have a mental health concern, such as depression or anxiety. Even if you don't have symptoms of a disorder, caring for your mental and emotional health is important for your overall well-being. Fortunately, there's a lot you can do to support mental health during your golden years. Start by following these tips.
Mental health and physical health are connected. When you take good care of your body, you also benefit your mental health. Regular exercise can reduce anxiety and depression symptoms while also strengthening your heart and muscles. That's why we offer exercise programs for residents as a part of our wellness services here at Cambridge Court senior living community.
Depression and other mental health problems can occur with health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and Parkinson's disease. As a result, it's doubly important that you follow your doctor's advice regarding treatments if you have a chronic health condition.
Feelings of isolation can lead to or worsen depression, so find ways to connect with other people. If your loved ones are far away, call, email or use video chats to keep in closer touch. Join clubs and groups related to your interests. Attend events designed specifically for seniors. The Peterson Senior Activity Center in Kearney, NE, is one place to find activities that will let you have fun and make new friends.
Getting a good night's rest does more than help you feel refreshed in the morning. A 2021 study found that poor and inadequate sleep increased the likelihood of mental distress. Ask your medical provider how much sleep you need to get nightly. Then, develop a plan to improve your sleep. You can:
Stress can have a negative impact on your mental health. While you may not be able to avoid stress, you can find ways to manage it. Use a mobile app or online videos to learn relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation. Keep a journal of your thoughts, and share your worries and feelings with friends and family. Sometimes, just talking to someone you trust can go a long way toward reducing stress.
If you tend to develop the winter blues every year, a mental health disorder called seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may be the cause. SAD occurs when changes in the amount of daylight lead to imbalances in the chemicals in your brain. One way to ease SAD is to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. For safety, dress for the weather and apply sunscreen.
Learning something new can help relieve stress and boost your self-esteem. Learn to play a musical instrument or speak a new language. Teach yourself to cook something new. Try a creative activity like writing poetry, acting, dancing or painting. Grow a new houseplant. Take up knitting or crocheting. Find something you always wanted to know how to do and pursue that interest.
Giving your time and talents to other people can make you feel great. Volunteer your time with a nonprofit organization that does work you admire. Provide free lessons to teach other people about something that you're good at doing. Look for opportunities to help friends and neighbors by lending either an ear or a hand.
An occasional glass of wine or cocktail likely won't impact your mental health. In fact, you may feel like it eases anxiety or allows you to relax. Unfortunately, alcohol is a depressant that can alter your brain chemistry. Habitual use could worsen depression symptoms, and some people shouldn't drink alcohol at all because of medical conditions or medications. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends limiting alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men for overall health and well-being. One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits.
Self-care can make a big difference in your mental health, but if you have depression, an anxiety disorder or another mental health disorder, you may not be able to ease symptoms on your own.
Talk to your medical provider if feelings like anxiety and sadness persist or if they make it difficult for you to enjoy your daily activities. Medications and/or therapy with a mental health professional may be the key to improving your mental health and feeling your best. If you don't know where to turn for help, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national helpline at (800)-662-HELP.