The long months of winter, social distancing, and closures due to the pandemic have taken a toll on many people’s mental health, including older adults. As spring starts and vaccinations are more available recommended restrictions are easing. It is a good time for seniors to find ways to boost their spirits. Mental health and physical health are intricately linked, and as a care manager, I’ve found that many of my clients need help to make a self-care plan to feed their spirits and reconnect.
Besides eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and exercising, strong social connections and having a purpose in life are important for emotional and physical wellbeing. Research shows that people who feel they have a purpose in life are happier and live longer. If you are having a tough time coming out of ‘winter hibernation’ or feel stuck in a rut, think about what motivates you. Is it spending time with family? Being of service to others? Learning new things and meeting new people? Enjoying the great outdoors? Here are some ideas:
- Try a new outdoor activity. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn how to golf, attend an outdoor yoga class, or play pickleball. If your partner or a friend is willing to join you for lessons, great, but if not, you can learn with a group and make new friends.
- Feeling creative? Start an ‘arts and crafts’ afternoon with friends. One of my clients meets with two of her neighbors every Saturday to work on various projects. They have experimented with alcohol inks, acrylics, paper beads, glass mosaics, and resin jewelry. While their efforts sometimes result in spectacular failures, it is all for fun and they have a great time socializing.
- Volunteer for community events and nonprofits that need help. Although the pandemic has prevented many seniors from participating in in-person volunteer activities over the past year, as restrictions ease it is likely that there will be a wealth of volunteer opportunities. Contact nonprofits such as food banks, animal shelters, arts organizations, and churches. There might also be volunteer opportunities at community events such as farmers’ markets, fairs, and festivals. Giving back is a sure-fire way to boost your mood.
- Take a class. Perhaps you have always wanted to become a master gardener, learn to make sushi, do woodworking, learn about investing, astronomy, you name it. Community colleges and libraries often have inexpensive adult education classes that start in the spring.
- Join a club…or start one yourself. Check out local Meet-Up groups online to find out what is going on in your area. One of my clients started a book club in her community. They meet monthly and it was a great way for her to get to know her neighbors better and make close friends.
Implementing activities that are enjoyable mood boosters and provide social interaction helps physical and mental wellbeing. If you are concerned about an aging loved one who has been isolated and you would like our assistance, please give us a call at (203) 258-2640 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to assist!