Focusing on Your Mental Health in Retirement Years
Physical health is critical as we age, but it goes hand-in-hand with your mental well-being. You’re probably familiar with ways to keep your body healthy, like exercise, nutritious diet, and seeing a doctor regularly. But how familiar are you with ways to keep your mind healthy?
What is mental health, and why is it important?
Before we get into how to have good mental health, let’s define what mental health is and why it’s so important, especially for seniors.
Mental health is a state of well-being that includes emotional, psychological, and social factors. It affects how you feel, think, and act. Mental health also has a direct link to physical well-being. According to the CDC, poor mental health can increase the risk for physical health problems like heart disease and stroke.
So how do you ensure good mental health? You can do many simple things to keep your mind healthy and your mental health in a good state. Follow along as we share our six favorite tips and tricks you can incorporate into your life, whether you are experiencing retirement at home or in a senior living community.
1. Maintain a nutritious diet.
According to a study done by Harvard Medical School, maintaining a healthy diet supports good mental health. Our brains thrive off of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from nutrient-packed foods like fruits, vegetables, and other unprocessed foods. Highly processed and refined foods lack these beneficial nutrients and contain refined sugars and saturated fats, which can be harmful to our brains.
It’s important to follow a healthy diet to keep your body and mind in top shape. One way to do this is to consult a nutritionist who can tell you if the foods you are eating regularly are contributing to or detracting from your physical and mental health. They can also help you discover new and delicious ways to nourish your mind and body along the way
2. Keep your mind active.
Stimulating your mind through games, puzzles, journaling, or even interactive television can help build a “cognitive reserve” in your mind. According to the National Library of Medicine, high cognitive function in seniors is directly associated with better mental and physical health. Some of the best ways to stimulate your mind are:
· Arts and crafts
· Trivia games
· Puzzles like crosswords, sudoku, and wordle.
· Board games
3. Get out in nature.
Spending time outside has been shown to reduce anxiety symptoms, boost mood, and increase creativity. Dr. Gregory Bratman, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, and his colleagues,
conducted a study showing evidence that spending time in nature decreases mental distress. Spending time in the great outdoors benefits more than just your mental health.
4. Catch up on zzz’s.
The Sleep Foundation reports that sleeping habits are closely associated with your mental, physical, and emotional health. Poor sleeping habits are directly linked to many mental
illnesses, including anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Poor sleep habits can lead to or worsen existing mental and physical issues. In contrast, healthy sleep habits increase mood and productivity and decrease common mental illness symptoms. It’s suggested that those over 65 get seven to eight hours of sleep each night to promote a healthy sleep cycle.
5. Keep your body moving.
We know exercise keeps your body healthy, but it also provides excellent benefits for your mental well-being. A study conducted by the National Institute on Aging reports that even moderate exercise like a brisk walk or shooting a basketball increases glucose metabolism in the brain. High glucose levels in the brain are associated with high cognitive function, which is a significant factor in your physical and mental health. Therefore, exercise is another great way to spend time outdoors and increase your mental health
6. Spend time with those you love
Spending time with friends and family provides emotional support and reduces stress levels. The National Library of Medicine reports that loneliness dramatically impacts a person’s mental health. So be sure to spend time with others and check in on friends and family you haven’t seen in a while.
If you think your social life has gone down in retirement, consider moving to a life plan community. Living in an active, social, and fun environment, you’ll be able to increase your social life and better your mental health at the same time.
Ready to learn more about what our Continuing Care Retirement Community can do for you and your mental health? Explore everything The Waterford has to offer on our website or call us today at 1-888-335-1678