What is emotional wellness? The term refers to an awareness, understanding and acceptance of your thoughts and emotions, and the ability to deal with challenges and change. Signs of emotional wellness include:
- Being able to talk about your emotional concerns and share your feelings
- Saying “no” when you need to without feeling guilty
- Feeling content most of the time
- Feeling you have a strong social support network of people who care about you
- Being able to relax
- Feeling good about who you are
- Being able to stay in the present moment
Emotional wellness for seniors is key to a happier, healthier life. Your emotional well-being is closely tied to your physical health, social connections, attitudes and beliefs. It can help you quickly bounce back from difficulties.
To learn how to maintain emotional wellness, here are 9 strategies that will help you stay resilient, manage stress when larger personal issues arise, and improve your overall mental health.
9 Emotional Wellness Activities
1. Be Positive
While the occasional bad mood is normal, having a consistent negative attitude consistently works against your own internal happiness. To help develop a more positive mindset:
- Give yourself credit for the good things you do each day.
- If you make a mistake forgive yourself and others. Everyone makes mistakes, the important part is to learn from what went wrong without dwelling on it.
- Maintain relationships with supportive family members and friends.
- What do you believe about the meaning and purpose of life? Your beliefs can be used to guide your decisions.
- Focus on the good. Few things are all good or all bad. You’ll feel better if you look at the positive aspects of people, new experiences and everyday activities.
Social contact can make a big difference in how you feel and in how well you cope with problems. People with strong social networks are often healthier and happier than those with few social connections. To strengthen your social circle, reach out to friends and loved ones. Other options include:
- Join a group focused on one of your favorite hobbies.
- Take a class to learn something new.
- Volunteer for things you care about in your community.
- Go for a walk with friends and neighbors
Stress can provide an energy rush to help us get things done. But chronic stress happens when we’re on “high alert” for a long time and can have a long-term negative impact on your health. Here are some ways to cope with stress:
- Get enough sleep. (7-8 hours a day is recommended)
- Staying active with just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost your mood and reduce stress.
- Decide what must get done and what can wait. If taking on a new task makes you feel overloaded, say no.
- Start a journal and write down what you’ve accomplished that day.
- To help you relax, try mindfulness, meditation, yoga or tai chi.
- Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation can also help reduce stress.
- Spending time in nature can create more positive feelings and better mental health, along with lower levels of depression and stress.
- If you feel unable to cope, have suicidal thoughts, or use drugs or alcohol to cope, talk with a mental health professional.
4. Zzzzzz Time
Getting quality sleep can improve your mental and physical health. For a better night’s sleep:
- Go to bed the same time each night, and get up the same time each morning.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, comfortable environment.
- Exercise daily (but not right before bedtime).
- Limit the use of electronics before bed.
- Relax before bedtime with a warm bath or by reading.
- Avoid alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine late in the day.
- Avoid nicotine.
- Consult a health care professional if you have ongoing sleep problems.
5. Establish Boundaries
Feeling overwhelmed with too much to do can cause frustration, anxiety and stress. To help, consider:
- Prioritize what you’re willing to spend your time and energy on.
- Don’t automatically say yes. You know how it feels to be excited to do something versus dreading it. The difference can help you decide what to do and not do.
- If something will take up more time than you’ll get out of it, say no.
- Spend time doing things you enjoy and help you feel better about yourself.
- If someone asks you to do something and you don’t think you’re the right person for the job, suggest someone else.
- Don’t let people talk you into things you don’t want to do or out of things you want to do.
6. Cope with Loss
Losing a loved one or the ability to do something that once came easily, can feel overwhelming. But most people can make it through the grieving process with the support of family and friends. Healthy ways to deal with loss include:
- Take care of yourself. Try to eat right, exercise and get enough sleep. Avoid bad habits that can put your health at risk.
- Talk to caring friends.
- Find a grief support group.
- Wait a while before making big decisions like moving or changing jobs.
- Talk with your doctor if you’re having trouble with everyday activities.
- Sometimes short-term talk therapy can help.
- Mourning takes time. It’s common to have roller-coaster emotions for a while.
7. Accept Yourself
Everyone has self-judgment and self-doubt. We can also set expectations for our life and behavior that we wouldn’t set for others. Learning to accept yourself is a gateway to a happier, healthier life. To start:
- Surround yourself with positive affirmations and things that inspire you. When you feel insecure and doubt creeps into your thoughts, turn to one of your inspirations.
- Let go of what you think perfection looks like. The pursuit of perfection can keep you from accomplishing your goals. Good can be good enough.
- Forgive others for things they didn’t mean to do or didn’t know they did. Forgive yourself for mistakes you think you’ve made.
- Celebrate something you are bad at. It’s in our failures, not our successes, that we learn the most about ourselves.
- Ask for help. If you are suffering from emotional distress, get the perspective of others to hear how they would handle a situation.
- Seek the advice of a mental health professional.
Helping others can also make you feel better about yourself, and it’s a great social activity. Some ideas include:
- Volunteer with a friend over the weekend.
- Combine physical and social health by joining a walking club or taking an exercise class.
- Contact your local senior center, volunteer center, or schools in your area, to find out how you can share a lifetime of knowledge and experience.
9. Mental Sharpness
If you’re worried about occasionally misplacing your car keys or forgetting where you parked, it doesn’t mean that you have a serious loss of cognitive function. Most of the time these changes are normal, and some memory changes can be caused by common conditions that are treatable, so talk with your doctor. Here are some ways to help you stay interested and involved in the world:
- Learn to play an instrument or operate a computer.
- Take up a stimulating hobby like quilting, painting or digital photography.
- Work word, number and jigsaw puzzles.
Find Your Inner Peace
Practicing emotional wellness is easier when you’re part of a senior living community of like-minded people who want to get the most out of life. At Peace Village, our lifestyle is built around maintaining emotional wellness for seniors through activity, fitness, healthy eating and social connection. If you’d like to learn more, contact us here.