Mental fitness and health are essential for living life to the fullest. According to research, one in four seniors encounter mental challenges like depression, anxiety, or dementia. For some seniors, isolation, loss of mobility, and other unexpected changes can lead to mental health challenges.
Fortunately, it’s possible to enjoy a high level of mental fitness and wellbeing well into your senior years. You can take proactive strategies to support your mental fitness at this stage of life.
This can support a better quality of life and live life to the fullest. It can see you meeting life’s challenges with resilience and strength. You can apply these eight simple strategies and start improving your mental wellbeing today.
- Eat healthfully
Your diet has a direct impact on your mental health. Additionally, your nutritional needs change as you get older. You may need to incorporate more high-fibre and nutrient-dense foods. You’ll likely need to drink more water. As a general rule, aim for 8 to 10 cups per day to stay hydrated.
By eating a balanced diet with sufficient servings of fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, lean proteins, and oily fish, you could be at a lower risk of depression. In addition, a healthful diet could keep dementia at bay.
- Get active
Getting enough physical exercise into your week not only keeps you physically fit but also improves mood and facilitates mental well-being. When you get active, your body produces more feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin.
Given the fact most seniors think living independently for as long as possible, regular exercise is doubly important. Keeping fit can increase your confidence by improving strength, balance, and agility. Staying physically healthy is vital for maintaining self-sufficiency. It can help you better manage stress and anxiety.
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Explore what you enjoy doing, whether it’s yoga, swimming, or ballroom dancing. Aim to do at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week. You can find it beneficial to integrate low-impact, weight-training activities like stretching and lifting weights into your regime.
- Sleep properly
Getting enough quality sleep is essential to mental health. According to research, sleep deprivation negatively affects your mental wellbeing. Given that seniors are more prone to insomnia, it’s important to do what you can to support good quality sleep.
For most, a sufficient amount of sleep may be around seven to nine hours each night. Also, practise good sleep hygiene. This means keeping to a regular sleeping schedule, avoiding screens and caffeine near bedtime, and ensuring your room is at a comfortable temperature.
- Spend time with family and friends
Spending time with loved ones and sharing your feelings can lead to better mental wellbeing. To stay connected, take the opportunity to share both the high and lows of your life with others, as this can allow you to feel supported rather than alone.
Whether these are online or in-person interactions, they can counter loneliness and the sense of isolation that can negatively impact your mental fitness.
Use technology tools like social media and video calls. Invite friends along for a shopping trip or over for dinner. Schedule some quality time with the grandkids.
- Contribute in a meaningful way
Once you retire from the workforce, you might feel like something is missing from your life. This could be the sense of contribution your work gave you. Yet, you don’t have to go back to work to be rewarded with the same feeling of worth and achievement. You can volunteer in your community and help others.
Whether it’s conservation work, helping disadvantaged minors, or something else, plenty of organisations and causes could benefit from your time. In return, you can feel rewarded and valued for your skills and knowledge and stay active and engaged with the wider world.
- Work your brain
Not surprisingly, your brain needs challenges to stay stimulated. Working your brain could lower the risk of decline while enhancing memory, reaction time, and processing speed. Reading, writing, learning something new, doing a crossword puzzle, and playing games are easy ways to challenge your brain and give it a good workout.
Trying a new hobby, like dancing, cooking, sculpture, painting, or playing an instrument can also exercise your brain. You could feel more confident, capable, and even optimistic while making your mind fitter.
- Adopt an animal
Adopting an animal who needs a loving home can keep you active and engaged. It can give you a sense of purpose every day while bringing love, joy, and companionship into your life.
What’s more, a pet can improve your fitness, reduce stress levels, and even improve your physical health. If you’re not ready to commit to pet ownership, volunteering at a rescue centre could give you similar mental-fitness benefits.
- Get support
Don’t hesitate to get support if you need it. Chat with a friend or loved one about any issues you might have. You can speak to your doctor and ask him/her to refer you to the right service or specialist. Look up support organisations that can give you guidance and support.
Getting older doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to certain mental challenges and conditions associated with ageing. Eating healthfully, keeping active, and sleeping well are essential. In addition, stay connected with your loved ones, friends, and community. Get guidance and support if you need it.
Challenge your brain with new activities and by mastering new skills. Adopting a pet can also foster mental health as well as physical wellbeing. By applying these simple tips, you’ll be doing a lot to support your mental fitness and wellbeing.
Jacqui Coombe has been a prolific reader since childhood, and now channels her love of the written word into writing content on a range of topics from business, marketing and finance to travel and lifestyle.