As the cold weather approaches and we all retreat indoors, it’s imperative that we check on our loved ones to ensure they are both physically and mentally healthy. October is depression and mental health awareness month, and that means there are plenty of activities and resources available to help keep your loved one’s mental health and spirits high.
According to the CDC, one in four adults report having anxiety or depression-related symptoms since the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic. With the stresses of the world and our daily lives, it is crucial to keep our minds healthy and thriving – even as we age. Here are six ways to help alleviate any unwanted stress and depression.
1. Take Deep Breaths
We often forget to stop and just breathe when a situation becomes pressing. Deep breathing has many health benefits as it physiologically helps to calm the nervous system down. There are many different breathing techniques that are useful, however, it may take some trial and error to find one that works best for you. We suggest practicing at least one breathing technique a day in order to maximize these benefits.
2. Express Your Thoughts
It is never a good idea to keep emotions and feelings bottled up inside. By speaking up and explaining to others how you truly feel will not only make yourself feel better about the current situation you are going through, but it will also strengthen your relationships with those who you converse with.
One exercise that is specifically helpful is using the traffic light reference. Start by identifying the red, all of the negative feelings you are currently feeling. Then yellow, a middle ground in which you can see both sides of the situation. Lastly green, a plan to help you get through the negative emotions/feelings to now see the positive side of things.
3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is noticing what’s happening while it’s happening, using all five senses. For example, right now take a moment to look around your current surroundings – what do you see, hear, feel, touch, taste, and smell and how does that all make you feel?
Research has shown that mindfulness increases psychological, cognitive, and physical capabilities such as reduced mind spiraling, decreased body pains, increased sense of meaning, and so much more.
4. Limit Caffeine Intake
A caffeine rush is hard to resist, but it can sometimes have the opposite effect and add to your anxiety levels. Caffeine increases stress hormones by activating the adenosine receptors in your brain, heart, and elsewhere, making you less tired and more alert.
We recommend those of all ages to monitor how much caffeine they are consuming daily. This will minimize any unwanted shaking, upset stomachs, and racing thoughts that so often occur when we find ourselves sipping away at our coffee.
5. Socialize Regularly
Intergenerational programs bring people of all ages closer together with the goal of achieving a greater understanding and respect between generations. Activities such as singing, book reading, crafting, puppet routines, and moving with scarves and other props are just some examples that are done at these classes. Research shows that intergenerational programming offers important benefits to all involved as it fosters a sense of community among all ages.
Here at Wentworth Senior Living, a weekly program known as Wiggles and Wisdom is just one of the many programs offered to make sure that seniors never feel lonely and have many opportunities to interact with others. All you must do is attend one of these group activities and you will see just how wonderful an experience it is for everyone!
6. Get Enough Sleep
The last, but certainly not the least important tip is to get enough sleep every single night. It seems like a no-brainer, but often we forget that sleep is what our body needs to be able to reset ourselves both physically and mentally. According to Medicare.com, adults aged 18 years and older should be getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day.
Getting enough sleep is instrumental to maintaining your mental health. Sleep deprivation can cause decreased cognitive and mental functions, increase risk of falls, drastically affect mood and one’s overall health. Developing a nightly routine and sticking to it will help your body fall into a rhythm.
While it’s easy to sometimes forget to check in with yourself and your loved ones, remember all the benefits that can come from maintaining your mental health. It’s also important to practice these six tips when you are feeling good too because it will only help you master them when a pressing time should come. These tips will help to ensure that your mental health is as strong as it can be.