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Mental health is important no matter your age. The details of what you have to do to take care of yourself might change over time, but you’ll always need some basic things. If you’re not sure where you need to start, these tips will help you find your footing.
Eat Well, Feel Well
What you eat does more than feed your body, it can affect your mental health as well. How does that happen? To understand that, you’ll have to know more about your gut microbiome, which is a collection of bacteria in your stomach. Bacteria like bifidobacterium, akkermansia, and lactobacillus live in your stomach and contribute to important bodily functions like your digestion, fighting off illness, and regulating neurotransmitters that stabilize your mood. Keeping your gut microbiome balanced starts with eating certain foods that have prebiotic or probiotic qualities. Prebiotics feed your bacteria and come from foods like whole grains and those that are high in fiber. Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that encourage good gut health and come from fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. If it’s not possible to get these foods into your diet, then maybe a supplement is the right choice for you.
Think About Yourself More
It’s become more commonplace to see how much we can fit into each day and that doesn’t leave much time to practice self-care. In order to take better care of yourself, you need the time to get into important activities like exercise. One of the ways you can get some time to yourself is by saying “no” to things that aren’t necessary or will stretch you too thin. When refusing certain tasks, make sure to provide alternatives or suggest other persons who may also do well.
With more available time, you can work your way up the 150 minutes of weekly exercise that MedlinePlus recommends for adults. Apart from keeping you physically fit, consistent exercise keeps your brain sharp and reduces your risk of depression. Older adults may have special exercise needs so if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you should check your eligibility for the SilverSneakers program. This program provides fitness classes designed specifically for seniors and includes stability classes, yoga, swimming, and outdoor activities.
Get Some Good Sleep
According to this article by Harvard Health Publishing, studies have shown that the average adult is getting much less than the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. If this applies to you, then you should know that you run the risk of affecting how your body gets rid of waste proteins that contribute to degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. You can work on getting a good night’s sleep by sticking to a sleep schedule and creating a bedtime ritual.
Your pillows and mattress should be comfortable, and if you’ve had your mattress for more than 10 years, then it might be time to purchase a new one. Your bedroom should also be cool and free from distractions, including loud noises — including your television — or bright lights. You can add dimmable lighting options, blackout curtains, and a white noise machine. Improve the air quality in your bedroom by investing in a ceiling fan, air purifier, and hardwood floors (instead of allergen-trapping carpet). If pricier bedroom improvements aren’t in your budget, you could refinance your home to help pay for them. Talk to a lender to learn more about the costs and benefits of refinancing.
Keep Your Stress Level Low
Recent studies show high levels of stress in Americans between the ages of 15 and 39, followed closely by adults up to the age of 53. While persons who were 54 and over had low levels of stress, everyone was worried about issues like money, work, and health. It’s interesting that health is one of the issues people are stressed out about because chronic stress can have an adverse effect on your health. Some of the signs you may be suffering from chronic stress are a loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, headaches, fatigue, and an inability to concentrate. Unless you do something about your stress level, you can find yourself suffering from anxiety, depression, and a range of other illnesses. Apart from removing yourself from stressful environments, you can manage stress by talking with loved ones or a health professional.
It’s impossible to outgrow the need for self-care. So, wherever you are in your life, be sure to take a step back and examine how you could be taking better care of yourself.
This guest post was written by Brad Krause.