Looking to take care of your mental health as you get older but not sure where to start? We’ve put together eight simple tips that can have a big impact…
As you get older, looking after your mental health is essential and is just as important, if not more so, as it was when you were growing up. Having good mental health will help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, lessen the chances of getting ill and help you to think clearer. There are many ways you can take care of your mental health as you get older and many can be implemented with just a few small tweaks to your daily or weekly routines. Below we look into 8 ways you can take care of your mental health as you get older.
Be as active as you can
Staying active is crucial to not just your physical wellbeing, but your mental health too. You may not be as mobile as you once were, but there are plenty of ways you can stay active. Recreational activities such as gardening, yoga, swimming or dancing are less demanding on your body and allow you to continue getting some exercise. Not only that, but by being active you will also benefit from meeting new people, an energy boost and it can help improve your sleep quality. Even a gentle walk around the block once or twice a day can do wonders for your mental wellbeing.
Enjoy a healthy balanced diet
When taking care of your mental health, your diet is just as important as the other changes you may be making. Try to adjust your diet to include five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day, increase the amount of water you are drinking and reduce the number of fatty foods you are eating. Eating healthily can help you feel more positive, boost immunity and strengthen your bones which is important as you get older. If you don’t like the taste of vegetables on their own, a trick is to include it within the sauces you are making, for example, adding peas and sweetcorn to a spaghetti bolognese. When making changes, don’t do it too drastically and cut out all the unhealthy foods you enjoy as this can make it hard and unrealistic to stick to. Instead, try to eat unhealthy foods in moderation.
Keep in touch with your friends and family members
As you age it can be harder to get out and about meaning your social interactions suffer and this can lead to feelings of loneliness. Feeling isolated and alone can be an unpleasant emotion that can negatively affect your mental health. This is why it’s important to regularly keep in touch with your friends and family members and not be afraid to tell them how you are feeling. Try to schedule a regular facetime or phone call or arrange a weekly trip to a restaurant or coffee shop that you can look forward to. On the days when they are busy, consider joining a social club of an interest that you enjoy, for example, a book club or a board games club. You could also look into companionship care where someone can come in to spend time with you whether it’s just for a cup of tea or to head out for a slice of cake together and talk about your week.
Get enough sleep
Getting enough sleep benefits your mental health but also has many other plus points. It can reduce the chance of you getting sick, help you feel more alert during the day, reduce stress and improve your overall mood. It’s recommended that to take care of your mental health as you get older you aim to get around 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day. If you feel like you’re not hitting these hours, then try and make some adjustments in order to do so.
If you find yourself stuck in a routine where you are not socialising as much as you would like to and find yourself not leaving your home, volunteering could be an option. By volunteering for something you care for, it can really help your mental health. It encourages you to leave your home, allows you to meet new people and it can benefit your community. You could volunteer for your local charity shop and support them within the store, or you could help out at a doctor’s surgery, hospital or a school near you. Reach out to your local council as they should have a list of the places that are actively looking for a volunteer.
Ask for help
Everyone needs help every once in a while, so don’t be afraid to ask for it yourself when you need it. If you feel yourself suffering from your mental health, there is no shame in reaching out to your family members or friends to support you. If you don’t have anyone close by, you can always turn to a charity to support you as well. A simple quick phone call can make a huge difference. It may be that those around you aren’t aware you are struggling and once you let them know they can support you going forward.
Learn a new skill
There is a lot of science behind learning a new skill and how it can help your mental wellbeing. Teaching yourself how to cook better or taking on a new DIY project are two of many ways in which you can keep your mind occupied and feel a sense of achievement too – both great when looking to take care of your mental health. As you learn a new skill you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, boosting your self-esteem and also giving you a reason to connect with other people thus also giving you a sense of purpose. You could get your friends or family members to learn the new skill with you as a way of bonding or invite them around to show them your hard work.
These are just eight ways of many to help to take care of your mental health as you get older. Try not to overload yourself and implement them all at once, instead make gradual changes and see how you feel after. There may be one of these tips that help more than the other. Don’t be afraid to try something new and find ways to be creative and make sure you feel comfortable throughout. Work at your own pace and give yourself time to work out what has the greatest effect on you.