As we get older, there might be an expectation among some of us that other people will look after our health and well-being. And while that might be true for many situations, it doesn’t mean we can’t also look after ourselves.
This is where the idea of “self-care” comes into play. There are several things you can do every single day to improve your mental and physical health, maintain and strengthen relationships, and live a happy and fulfilling life in your golden years.
Five things seniors can do to improve health and well-being
1. Go on a date
Loneliness and social isolation have been linked with various devastating health problems as we age. According to recent studies, social isolation was associated with a 50% increase in the risk of dementia. In comparison, loneliness brought a 29% increased risk of heart disease and a 32% increased risk of stroke.
One fun solution to loneliness is to start dating again.
It doesn’t need to be Valentine’s Day to ask someone on a date. And not all dates need to be romantic. Something as simple as asking a friend out to coffee & cake or going to the cinema with your family can keep those feelings of isolation at bay.
And if you don’t want to do the asking, joining a local senior’s group will see you invited along to coffee mornings, theatre trips, and outings galore.
2. Spend time in nature
There’s no denying that breathing crisp, fresh air into our lungs and feeling the warm sunshine on our skin can significantly benefit our physical and emotional well-being. But far too many of us are choosing not to spend time outdoors.
While it can be difficult to reconnect with nature as we get older, it shouldn’t be dismissed entirely. Try taking a walk in the woods, a trip to the beach, or an hour in the garden to boost your mental health.
3. Practise mindfulness
Mindfulness has grown in popularity over the past few years. It refers to the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present and accepting it without judgment.
Among its many benefits, it can help alleviate stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, and improve sleep.
There are several ways you can practise mindfulness at home:
- Meditate by finding a quiet place and a comfortable chair. Close your eyes, empty your mind, and take deep, controlled breaths.
- Listen to relaxing music or sounds of nature.
- Try aromatherapy by lighting a scented candle or burning incense.
- Turn off your TV or computer and switch your phone to silent mode. Step away from the constant bombardment of news and media and instead focus on being “in the moment.”
4. Keep a daily gratitude journal
Getting older comes with its fair share of challenges. Alongside common health concerns, there are financial pressures, mobility issues, and social isolation. As a result, many seniors can experience anxiety, depression, and general feelings of pessimism.
If this sounds familiar, keeping a daily gratitude journal can help combat these negative thoughts. Each night, before bed, grab a notebook and a pen and scribble 3-5 things that you were grateful for that day.
You don’t have to write huge paragraphs or try to capture life-changing events. It can be something as simple as a nice meal, a coffee with friends, or a phone call from your grandkids.
Seeing it in writing can help you appreciate the good things you have in life.
5. Rediscover an old passion (or start something new)
It’s not uncommon for people to give up on hobbies as they get older. But one of the benefits of retirement is all that free time you have to rekindle your passions!
One of the best ways to practice self-care as a senior is to rediscover the things you loved when you were younger, whether that’s watercolours, travel, or a musical instrument.
Alternatively, you could step out of your comfort zone and try something completely different. Perhaps that’s yoga, woodworking, or learning a new language.
Whatever you choose, adding regular activities to your routine will bring structure to your day and opportunities to meet new people.
Looking for inspiration? Read this next: 10 things to try in your retirement years.