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  • Michelle Varela

Keys To Happiness As You Age


It’s no secret that the elderly often face social and emotional problems that make it harder to be happy. Isolation, loneliness, and depression are just a few of the challenges they may have to come to terms with as they age. However, there are ways to help ease these problems and improve their overall well-being.


Get Outside



People, regardless of age, need to see the sun every day. Decreased sun exposure is associated with decreased serotonin levels, which can lead to major depression. Sunlight boosts your mental health. You not only get vitamin D, but it’s also a great reminder of the natural beauty in your surroundings. In fact, researchers found that heading outdoors and being in nature decreases stress, and makes you happier and less brooding.

Consider making some of these ideas a part of your daily routine:

  • After a meal, consider a brisk walk at a nearby park.

  • Start a garden. Spending more moments with your plants as much as the weather permits.

  • Or, simply step outside, look around you, and appreciate nature.

Connecting with nature, and exposing yourself to more sunlight can vastly improve your happiness level and mental health.


Laugh and Smile



Whenever you smile, you are also attracting positive energy around you, which is a great reason to make it a habit. According to a Swedish study, smiling is contagious and a great way to spread positive energy. Give a smile to someone who comes to check on you or a stranger in a store.

Research also suggest that humor greatly benefits our physical and mental health by:

  • Reducing stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and calories

  • Increasing brain function and memory, endorphins, connection, antibodies, and creativity

  • Improving circulation, immune system, coping skills, inflammation, and cholesterol levels

Laughter is the best medicine. A key to happiness is making the choice to smile and laugh, even if you are not feeling that way to start the day.


Prioritize Your Physical Health



Your physical health is very important. When you are physically healthy, you’re more likely to be emotionally healthy, too, as your body’s condition easily affects how you feel.

Keys to maintaining physical health include:

  • Exercise and be physically active. To exercise at home, consider this home workout.

  • Work with a dietitian or physician on sticking to a proper diet and avoiding bad foods.

  • Discuss with your doctor and take the right supplements.

  • Get enough sleep. (Having trouble catching your z’s? Read these sleep tips.)

  • Go to your annual physical checkups and regular consultations.

Most importantly, don’t forget to have fun! Exercise should be something that brings happiness into your day-to-day lives. If you are not enjoying it, try mixing things up until you find the perfect fit. There are fitness videos and apps specifically targeted for those with limited mobility, and you can find blog posts with many exercise suggestions as well


Spend Time With Mixed Age Groups





It only takes a few minutes of spending time with children to note their vibrant resilience. Older adults can benefit from spending time with people of all ages. It only takes a few minutes of spending time with children to note their vibrant resilience.


Make It A Challenge To Learn New Things



Learning new things can give seniors a reason to wake up each day with anticipation for what is to come. The satisfaction gained from learning a new skill can also fill the heart with joy. Once your loved one has mastered something new, he or she can then show it off to family and friends. Whether he or she dances in a recital or puts his or her latest painting on display, your loved one is almost certain to smile when getting compliments.


Think Positive



Positive thinking can be a powerful force. You can reframe just about any negative situation in a positive light with a little effort. It may take some practice, but challenging your own negative thoughts with positive ones can help shift how you approach your entire day. It is easy as you get older to focus on things that you can no longer do or are difficult. Instead try to focus on your abilities and what you can do and find rewarding. According to a study in The Gerontologist, accepting aging and adapting to age-related changes is vital to successful aging and well-being.


Start a Gratitude Journal



Finding happiness at any age can be a mindset. If you are thankful for your life lived, with all the ups and downs, you can appreciate the things and people around you.

No matter how tough things get, there is always something to be grateful for — sometimes you just have to try a little harder to find it. Starting a gratitude journal is a great way to remember what matters most.


Eat Healthy



Eating a nutritious diet can be compared to physical activity in their importance to health.

The digestive system slows down with age, and after 60, people are not able to digest food properly, and this is why most of the senior citizens have digestive problems. The National Institute of Health has provided a some sample menus tailored to the dietary needs of older adults. You can use the sample menus as a general guide.


Here is a look at a sample day of meals:

Breakfast:

  • Half a whole wheat bagel spread with two tablespoons of peanut butter.

  • One banana One cup of coffee with a quarter cup of milk and two teaspoons of sugar.

Snack

  • A quarter cup of raisins

  • A cup of low-fat milk

Lunch

  • One tuna fish sandwich (2 slices bread, 2 ounces—about half a small can—of tuna, 2 teaspoons mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons chopped celery, and a lettuce leaf)

  • Four baby carrots

Dinner

  • Spaghetti and meatballs (a cup of cooked spaghetti, a quarter cup of sauce, a quarter cup of canned diced tomatoes, three medium meatballs, and a tablespoon of parmesan cheese) Salad (one cup greens, a quarter cucumber, a quarter of an avocado (cubed), a quarter cup of canned chickpeas, and three tablespoons of shredded cheese, plus a tablespoon of dressing)

  • A cup of water


Volunteer



University of Toronto researchers found that formal volunteering reduced depression and increased psychosocial well-being in older adults. Seniors said feeling appreciated or needed as a volunteer boosted their well-being and those with chronic conditions seemed to benefit most

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