When we think about our health, the first thing that comes to mind is typically our physical health. How are we feeling today? Any unusual aches or pains? Are we eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep? We often care so much about our physical health that we sometimes forget to focus on our mental health—which is just as important.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day, established in 1992 to raise awareness of mental health issues, promote education and advocacy, and destigmatize mental health conditions. In observation of this noteworthy day, HarborChase Senior Living is sharing some insight into why mental health is important and tips for maintaining mental health and wellness.
Why is Mental Health Important?
Mental health and wellness are important at any age, including over 65. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of older adults suffer from some form of mental disorder—including dementia, depression, and anxiety. Like at any other point in life, older adults experience stressors or struggles that can trigger mental health issues. For those 65 years and older, these stressors may include a decline in physical capabilities, financial difficulties, or loss of a spouse or partner.
Mental health and wellness also play a role in our physical health. If left untreated, mental health concerns can lead to chronic fatigue and illness. This is why, with the help of World Mental Health Day, it’s important to raise awareness about the significance of mental health, and strategies for promoting mental health and wellness.
Tips for Promoting Mental Health
1. Get Plenty of Exercise
Physical health and mental health go hand in hand. There are countless benefits to living an active lifestyle, including an improvement in mental wellness. Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels, improve sleep habits, enhance cognitive functioning, and positively impact overall mood.
We know that exercising isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a triathlete to reap the benefits of being active. There are plenty of ways to get moving. Here are some examples of exercises that can be low-intensity, stimulating, and even fun!
- Go for a 30-minute stroll after you wake up, and again before you go to bed
- Join a yoga class or do simple stretches on your own
- Find a community pool and swim laps or do water aerobics
- Take up a ballroom dancing class and learn some new moves
- Enjoy a nature walk with a pet or a friend
2. Practice Gratitude
It’s been well-documented that practicing gratitude and living a thankful life does wonders for your mental (and physical) health. By thinking or writing about what you are grateful for in your life, you may start to view the world from a different perspective.
Gratitude can help you focus on the things in your life that bring you joy, which can be a powerful tool in preventing negative or stressful thoughts.
3. Stay Connected With Others
Humans are naturally social creatures, and it’s essential to have a solid circle of close friends and family with whom you have healthy and supportive relationships. By surrounding yourself with an encouraging network, you can ensure that you’ll always have someone to talk to when you feel stressed, frustrated, or sad.
In today’s climate, it can be challenging to maintain face-to-face relationships with others, but you can stay connected, even from a distance. Try to set up a weekly phone call or video conference with close friends to check-in, share recipes you’ve been making, or reminisce. As we continue to navigate COVID-19, HarborChase exercises the use of modern technology to stay connected, including using smartphones and tablets and apps like Zoom, Facetime, and Skype. We provide residents and loved ones with every possible resource to safely visit as much as possible to provide peace of mind for everyone.
Just spending a few minutes with friends and family can be enough to prevent social isolation and boost overall mental health and wellness.
4. Find Purpose and Meaning
Finding meaning in your life is essential to mental health—it can enhance the immune system, relieve stress, and motivate you to do the other things on this list. Finding purpose and fulfillment can give you a sense of direction and value; it can help you get out of bed and start your day each morning. Finding meaning looks different for everyone, but some great examples include:
- Caring for a pet
- Volunteering or getting a part-time job
- Channeling your inner creative efforts such as painting, learning an instrument, or writing
- Attending spiritual services
5. Know When To Seek Help
Sometimes, even if you’ve followed the recommended steps and made consistent efforts to boost your mental health, you still may feel persistently “down,” stressed, or unable to maintain functional relationships and purpose. If this is the case, it may be time to seek professional help. Speak with your primary care physician about strategies and potential treatment options that could be right for you.
Promoting Mental Wellness at Any Age
No matter your age, maintaining your mental health and wellness is crucial for your relationships, jobs, hobbies, and physical health. In honor of World Mental Health Day, we encourage you to reflect on your mental health and wellness and consider some of our strategies to ensure a healthy and happy life.
HarborChase Senior Living, with assisted living facilities throughout the United States, is a proud advocate for mental wellness. We encourage residents, and all individuals, to celebrate and enjoy life in every way possible.
For more tips on senior health, assisted living, and more, we invite you to visit our blog!