Emotional Wellness Tips for Older Adults
Ask any older adult and most would agree that eating nutritiously and pursing exercise are important in regard to healthy aging. However, there’s more to healthy aging than just the physical aspect. What many older adults miss is the importance of their emotional wellness. In fact, studies have shown that emotional wellness can be just as important as physical wellness. This means that the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and beliefs that older adults experience can affect how healthy their body is.
Our physical bodies respond to our emotional state. When we’re frustrated or angry, we tend to tighten our muscles and take shallow breaths. When we’re sad, we move more slowly or have the urge to eat more foods. When we feel happy, we experience a surge of adrenaline that helps us accomplish tasks.
October is Emotional Wellness Month. It’s the perfect month for older adults to evaluate their emotional health and take charge of their emotional wellness, especially as the coronavirus pandemic continues. If you aren’t sure where to begin, here are a few emotional wellness tips.
No matter your age, you are bound to experience stressful moments. Stress is a part of life and cannot be avoided. What can be avoided is the mismanagement of stress. Let go of unhealthy coping mechanisms you’ve used in the past, such as emotional eating or avoiding the problem. Instead, take control of your emotional wellness by utilizing stress management techniques that work for you. Whether it’s journaling or going for a walk managing your stress in healthy ways improves your emotional wellness.
Move Your Body
Exercise not only improves your physical health, but also benefits your emotional health. As you exercise, your body releases endorphins, those feel-good feelings that give you an instant mood boost. It’s also another great way to manage stress and can help older adults cope with feelings of anxiety or depression. The next time you’re feeling down, choose to move your body instead of sitting in front of the television. If you don’t know where not start, talk with your doctor and check out Harvard Health Publishing for exercise recommendations for older adults.
Just as physical fitness and emotional wellness go hand-in-hand, there’s also a correlation between sleep and emotional wellness. Research shows that sleep deprivation negatively affects psychological and mental health. The amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotional reactions, increases in activity when the body is short on sleep. As a result, sleep-deprived adults are more likely to react intensely to situations. It’s best to stick to a consistent bedtime and awake around the same time each day. Turn off all electronics an hour before bed to help your mind unwind. Avoid caffeinated beverages in the afternoon. If you wake up in the middle of the night, avoid reaching for your smart phone and try guided relaxation techniques to help you fall back to sleep.
Studies show that maintaining social connections can boost both physical and emotional health, as well as extend longevity. Older adults who feel more connected typically have lower anxiety levels and aren’t at risk for depression. Those who don’t feel connected are more likely to experience a decline in emotional and physical health, as well as have an increased risk for exhibiting antisocial behavior that causes them to feel even more isolated. Nurture relationships and stay connected with others, even when you don’t feel like it. You can call a friend, check in with your children, write a letter of appreciation to a local business owner, or participate in events geared toward older adults, even if it’s a virtual hangout.
Another way to stay connected and prioritize your emotional wellness is to partner with Visiting Angels South Elgin. We are here to support older adults who need assistance maintaining their independence at home. In addition to helping with grooming, bathing, meal preparation, laundry, and light housekeeping, we also offer companion care. Our compassionate caregivers go above and beyond to build a relationship with their clients. To learn more about us or to schedule your free consultation, please contact us by calling 847-429-0100.