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The Importance of Emotional Wellness for Seniors

seniors staying active outdoors for emotional wellness

By the time they’ve reached their 70s, most people have developed an ability to cope with life’s ups and downs. Even during the pandemic, studies show that older adults have managed to stay relatively happy. What do they know that younger generations have yet to learn?

For one thing, they know the sun will come up in the morning and life will go on. Older adults are also more focused on the present. Their priorities have changed now that the mortgage is paid, the kids have grown up, and their careers are winding down. For residents of Atlantic Shores, a retirement community in Virginia Beach, that means embracing opportunities for living a life of joy and purpose. It’s all part of our holistic approach to wellness that spans seven dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual, intellectual, vocational, environmental, and emotional wellness.

What is emotional wellness?

Emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life’s stresses and adapt to change and difficult times. Psychologists describe emotional wellness as “the combination of feeling good and functioning effectively.

Why does emotional wellness matter for seniors?

Chronic stress can affect your physical health. It’s been linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, weakened immune function, and increased risk of Alzheimer’s.

Learning how to manage stress is key to emotional wellness. It can help you be more resilient and cope with loss. It can improve your relationships with others and make you feel physically and emotionally better. It may even help you live a longer life.

To strengthen your emotional wellness, follow these tips for a happier, healthier you.

Six strategies for improving your emotional health.

1. Stay active. Exercise can help manage stress, anxiety and depression. As an added bonus, whenever you exercise, you’re rewarded with a quick mood boost. Exercise regularly and you’ll gain self-confidence, improve brain function, and help prevent memory loss. At Atlantic Shores, residents have the opportunity to join an array of activities such as group fitness classes, swim in the pool, kayak on Lake Redwing, play tennis, and stroll paths that wind around our beautiful 100-acre campus.

2. Strengthen connections. Older adults are at increased risk for loneliness and social isolation — risks that can be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. To strengthen your social connections, nourish them. Build strong relationships with family and friends. Take a class, volunteer, or join a group focused on a favorite hobby. (Car enthusiasts take note: We’re holding our annual Classic Car Cruise-In on Saturday, October 2. It’s a great opportunity to see old cars and meet new friends.)

3. Brighten your outlook. To develop a more positive mindset, give yourself credit for the good things you do for others. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Don’t dwell on them; learn from what went wrong. Surround yourself with positive people. And think about how to guide your life by the principles that are important to you.

4. Sleep well. Make getting enough sleep a priority. Most adults need eight hours of sleep a day to function at their best. A good night’s sleep helps you think more clearly and focus better. Lack of sleep, on the other hand, can make your day miserable. Maintain a regular sleep schedule, exercise daily, and limit the use of electronics before bedtime. If stress is keeping you up at night, find someone you can talk to during the day to sort out what’s troubling you.

5. Keep a diary. This can help you keep track of your emotions and how you relate to others. You may want to keep a gratitude journal by writing down all the things you’re thankful for every day. Taking a few minutes to write down all the good things that could happen to you in the future is another way to foster a positive outlook — especially if you put a plan in place to work toward a better future.

6. Be mindful. Mindfulness is about being completely aware of what’s happening in the present. It means not living your life on autopilot. To be more mindful, simply take some deep breaths. When you’re out for a walk, notice your breath and the sights and sounds around you. As thoughts and worries enter your mind, note them but then return to the present. Yoga and meditation classes can also help you be more mindful. Popular apps, such as Headspace, Ten Percent Happier, and Calm, are available online.

Discover more about our whole-person approach to your well-being.

Emotional wellness is just one part of our wellness program. To learn more about our multidimensional approach to wellness at Atlantic Shores, a continuing care retirement community in Virginia Beach, contact us today! And discover just how good life can be.