As you grow older, the relevance of maintaining good physical and mental health become even more important. The impact of both can greatly influence your quality of life and ability to age well.
Most everyone is aware of the benefits of exercising and the negative impacts if they don’t. But many people overlook the advantages of keeping themselves emotionally fit.
Challenges to your emotional health
It’s understandable that emotional health for seniors may be compromised more easily because we experience certain milestones that can naturally challenge our emotional center, such as:
Children leaving home
Retiring from the work world
Physical changes and challenges
Increasing health issues
Loss of family members or friends
Decrease in independence
Increased anxiety about the future
How you feel about these issues and the place of importance they hold can play a big role in how you’ll be able to respond and age well.
7 steps to improve your emotional health
The following suggestions can help you not only improve your emotional health but your quality of life as well:
1. Find social support
Having support to face the challenges of life can make a big difference in maintaining good emotional health. Sharing concerns, feelings and overall outlooks on life have been shown to reduce the risk of some mental and physical illnesses. It may also add years to your life.
As you grow older it may be more difficult to find peers to share your experiences and the give-and-take of support that’s needed. As people leave your life and you no longer have built-in social opportunities such as at a workplace, you may need to find other opportunities.
2. Learn how to cope with change
Growing older can bring many changes to your life, both physical and emotional. How you respond may greatly impact your health.
But if you’ve always struggled with accepting or adapting to change, there are steps you can take.
Begin by accepting that change is inevitable. Acknowledge what is out of your control and focus instead on what you can influence. Try to see change as an opportunity. Look for the benefits that growing older brings, of which there are many. Take time to appreciate the good that life has to offer.
3. Look for the positive in life
While it’s true that rain will fall, don’t overlook all of the sunny days you have. Accepting that there will always be a downside to any situation if you look hard enough, choose instead to look up.
There is much joy and happiness in the world if you search for it. Do you have positive people in your life? Are your days spent on meaningful or enjoyable activities? Is there an old but beloved hobby you could resurrect? If not, find one or consider a few goals you’ve always wanted to tackle.
4. Nurture old friendships and make new ones
There may never be a more critical time to have supportive relationships to lean on. But this can also be when we begin to lose friends or find it difficult to make new ones. If you’re short on friendships, look for opportunities to make them and you’ll soon discover the emotional health benefits.
Remember, you’ll also want to be a good companion. Be proactive in connecting with new friends or reconnecting with old ones. Even if you’re unable to physically get together, regular phone calls or staying in touch through email or Facebook can still make a difference.
5. Strengthen connections to your community
You may be surprised at how connected and emotionally strong you can feel if you become involved in your community or advocate for a cause that’s important to you.
Discover renewed strength and stamina when you volunteer with a meaningful organization. What opportunities could you find that not only support your sense of self but genuinely help others?
Whether it’s helping young children learn to read, serving meals to the homeless or deciding to run for a local office, you may be surprised at the level of energy and sense of purpose that you’ll realize.
6. Remain physically in shape
Our bodies and minds are intertwined and when you take care of your physical self, you get the two-for-one advantage of improving your emotional health as well.
Look for opportunities to be physically active. Is there a local gym you can easily access? Are there trails or sidewalks in your neighborhood so you can safely get outdoors and exercise?
And don’t forget about your diet. What you choose to put into your body as fuel can greatly influence your mind. Research your physical and mental needs and see what foods are the most effective at meeting them both.
7. Be proactive in becoming emotionally and cognitively fit
Find opportunities to work out your brain. Although research isn’t definitive yet on the exact results of brain games and cognitive challenges, we do know there are advantages. So learn to play piano, speak a second language or master the art of storytelling.
You can work on your emotional health as well. You’re not destined to be anxious or impatient. Search the self-help aisles, on-line group forums and engage in therapy if you think that would help. Real change is possible and the goal of a better quality of life is worth the effort.
How Ingleside at Rock Creek Independent Living can help
We understand the importance of taking care of your emotional health as well as the physical. And our community is designed to support your efforts in doing just that.
You’ll find opportunities to improve your emotional health and quality of life at Ingleside at Rock Creek Independent Living.
Enjoy the benefits of good physical health by using our fitness and health facilities.
You’ll find it easy to eat well with our delicious, chef-prepared menu choices.
Join the others in an art class, educational or musical program.
Easily meet and make new friends at our many social activities.
All of this is conveniently waiting outside of your new home, where you’ll have the choice of a spacious one or two bedroom floor plan with full sized kitchen, large windows that flood your living space with natural light, safety features and underground parking.