4 Ways to Support Mental Wellness as You Age


As we age, we often look out for many illnesses and diseases like dementia, heart failure, and arthritis, but we fail to take our mental health into account. It is estimated that 20 percent of people age 55 and older suffer from mental illnesses.

It can be easy to put your mental health on the back burner when you have so many other things to focus on, like retirement and grandkids, but your mental health should always come first. Being happy and able to regulate your emotions is essential to growing older and continuing a healthy lifestyle. To keep your mind enriched with joy, stay connected with friends and family, get active if you aren’t already, find a new hobby, and prioritize sleep.

Stay Connected

Don’t age alone; allow others to surround you in love and cheerfulness. Plus, it’s been shown that those who have a social life tend to live longer. Your friends and family can offer support in times that are difficult and laughter when they are great. It’s easy to reach out nowadays, thanks to technology, so don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or send a heartfelt text. We all need someone to talk to and express our worries and achievements. Those around you can help build confidence and reassurance as you go through a new stage of life.

Get Active

Taking the time to care for yourself can be a little overwhelming, especially when the journey you have taken to get here starts catching up to you. Staying active may look different as your bones and muscles don’t necessarily bend and hold weight like they used to.

That doesn’t mean you should give up on exercising, though, since it is essential to reducing the possibility of mental illnesses. To get started, consider taking a walk around your block a couple of times a week or grabbing a close friend to try out a new yoga class. You can even be productive while being active by planting a garden or taking your grandchildren to the park and playing a game with them.

Find a New Hobby

To keep the excitement going, find a new hobby that interests you. As we get older, we tend to get stuck in place doing the same routine we did for the past 25 years. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it, right?

Wrong. Finding a new passion can elevate your life, bringing you more meaningful purpose. Having something you put a lot of time and effort into can lower stress levels and maintain your mood. Here are a few hobbies that might just be where you end up spending some of your spare time:

  • Painting
  • Camping
  • Photography
  • Fishing
  • Bicycling

Set a goal to try at least two new hobbies out this month to see if there is something that interests you.

Prioritize Sleep

Sleeping can become a challenge as you age, but it’s the secret to being healthy mentally and physically. Sleep plays a huge role in how we feel. So it makes sense that, as Columbia University puts it, “insufficient sleep has been found to increase negative emotional responses to stressors and to decrease positive emotions.” To have positive thoughts and a great outlook on life, it is recommended that adults of all ages get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

If you find yourself struggling to fall asleep, try these techniques out:

  • Listen to calming music
  • Take advantage of aromatherapy
  • Watch your caffeine intake
  • Read
  • Limit electronics before bed

Find a routine that works best for you. You may need to try out a couple of different techniques before you find the perfect fit.

Being happy and finding joy in the little things is what life is all about. Take your time to stay connected with your loved ones, find ways to get active, take on a new hobby, and have a good night’s rest.

A version of this article was published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.


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