There is no doubt that everyone grows older. By each passing day, hour and minute, life becomes a memory. To some, this idea is terrifying, but to others, growing older is a gift. In order to preserve that gift, there are five essential elements to healthy aging.
Stress can be the result of work, finances, relationships and/or health problems. According to medlineplus.gov, “Stress is your body’s reaction to a challenge or demand. In short bursts, stress can be positive, such as when it helps you avoid danger or meet a deadline. But when stress lasts for a long time, it may harm your health.”
Focused breathing has been shown to relieve stress. Take five minutes out of your day to focus on your breathing. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly to become fully aware of your breathing.
Regular exercise can boost your mood, increase confidence and allow you to focus on working out rather than worrying.
Consider keeping a gratitude journal to remember the things that are good in your life. When you focus on what you’re grateful for, it becomes difficult to focus on negativity.
Go somewhere that brings you peace. Wherever that may be, take time to soak in the surroundings and remember why that place brings you peace.
Sleeping well is key to living a healthy life. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, “Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life and safety. … Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It’s forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information.”
Waking up and going to sleep at consistent times every day will help with your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Avoid overworking physically and mentally the hour prior to bed. Spend the time quietly relaxing without artificial light to signal your brain that it’s time to go to sleep.
When you’re ready for bed, transition your bedroom into a tranquil environment – lower all lights, turn off electronics and place the thermostat to a comfortable temperature.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Your food choices each day affect your health – how you feel today, tomorrow and in the future. Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Combined with physical activity, your diet can help you to reach and maintain a healthy weight, reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer and promote your overall health.”
A balanced meal includes one food from each food group – protein, fruits, dairy, grains and vegetables.
MentalHealth.gov says, “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
By remaining aware of your mental health, the choices you make every day will reflect your emotional, psychological and social well-being.
As we grow older, preserving friendships and creating new ones becomes difficult. Making an intentional choice every day to have a conversation with a friend or family member may reduce feeling lonely. Scheduling weekly coffee dates with a friend or joining a book club with peers are some examples of ways to avoid isolation.
Throughout every moment of life, intentionally set aside time to take care of yourself. Although it may seem like a simple concept, daily routines can cloud the opportunities you have to invest in your mental, emotional and physical health. Consciously make the decision to implement these five essential elements to healthy aging into your daily schedule.