It is hard to look anywhere without being reminded of the importance of physical health. Our youth crazed culture shows magazines full of muscled men and women running, lifting weights, swimming and just being active. There really is nothing to match the feeling of strength and power and health.
As we age, all that becomes a bit more complex as we seek to be strong and maintain our independence. Our emotional and mental health are often neglected when in fact, our emotional and mental health may be ever more important in our overall well -being. Research has confirmed that a positive attitude can make everything better. And there are ways to keep the feeling of strength and power and health. Much of that lies with our mind and emotions. We have all seen the individual who really should have no reason to go on - yet they do and they thrive. Easy to say, harder to live out, but there is something about mind over matter. So let’s consider the following:
- At every stage of life, there is struggle for independence and the feeling of knowing “I am ok”. Seniors can keep that feeling by prioritizing responsibilities. Where once we were able to take on the world, now we can take on the continent, then the state, then the city, then our home. Figure out what is really important and focus on that.
- Emotionally, isolation is a major problem for seniors. It comes as a double edged sword when physically it is difficult to go out or entertain yet emotionally we really just want to be around friends. So do not isolate. However, it is quite ok to say no to some things and choose not to feel guilty about declining an invitation now and then.
- Take some time for yourself and your emotional wellbeing. Maybe your church or synagogue has a study group that brings you peace. Perhaps there is yoga group that will teach you to relax your mind and body in ways that are beneficial. Maybe your neighbors will play a round of cards or dice with you. Plant a garden or get a bird feeder. Just make some time to do things that make you feel good.
- Part of emotional wellbeing at any age is feeling connected. You didn’t want to be that teenager picked last at gym class. Yet, those stories are part of our life and are important to be told. Many families, after a loved one has passed, wish that they knew more about the story of your life. So join a life history writing class. If that isn’t possible, just sit down and write about your life. You don’t have to be a good writer but using your words to tell your story can be very emotionally healing. Trust that telling your story (even the bumpy parts) will help you maintain strong emotional health.
- Do things that enhance your self-esteem. Feeling good about yourself is one of the key factors of being healthy. Did you read that correctly --- feeling good about yourself is important? We all made mistakes but we also were pretty darn good at a lot of things. What do you do that brings you joy? Crafts? Painting? Needlework? Wood working? Whatever it is, DO IT. And share your end result with family and friends.
We all have heard the quote that you are what you eat. You are also who you are based upon who you think and feel you are.