By Pat Tiffin, writer at Seniorcaredirectory.
As we age, the connection between mind, body and spirit becomes more pronounced. Many of us have spent our younger days on the go, living at a fast pace that didn’t always leave much time for exercise, nutrition or sleep.
Even as we hit our forties, we’ve settled into routines that need to be re-evaluated as we grow older. What we eat, how we socialize, exercise, relax – there are things we can do now that will pay big benefits as we get older.
Start Where You Are
The routines of our lives are typically defined by the demands of our career or our role as parents. Fast food, soft drinks, too little sleep and too much stress aren’t unusual.
We tend to write it off, promising ourselves we’re going to get to a yoga class someday soon. Meanwhile, the fresh broccoli is going brown in the refrigerator and peanut butter and jelly has become a food group. Our bodies are tired, our minds are overworked.
Granted, that’s not everyone, but it’s more of us than we like to admit. We all know we should ditch the soda, avoid the drive-thru and walk more. But here are a few ideas you may not have considered to encourage better health as you grow older.
5 Habits to Change Now
1. Stop Multi-Tasking
We’ve all been taught we should be able to do more than one thing at a time. No one has embraced that concept more than women. Here’s the news you might of missed – it doesn’t make you more productive.
Trying to accomplish multiple things at the same time – at work or at home – will intensify your stress level, contribute to anxiety and increase irritability. Stress and anxiety do damage to your body and diminish your sense of emotional wellbeing.
When you allow yourself to do one thing at a time, you feel a sense of accomplishment when the task is complete. And you’ll probably get more done.
2. Switch Up Your Supplements
If you’ve been tossing back your children’s vitamins or just using a basic daily vitamin, it’s time to rethink what your body and brain need to stay healthy as you age. You probably know you need more calcium to keep your bones strong and that vitamin C can help wounds heal faster and prevent cataracts.
But there is an essential vitamin that most of us don’t get enough of – magnesium. According Harvard University, magnesium helps to keep blood pressure down and blood sugar level. It can also help with depression and encourage better sleep.
Magnesium helps to regulate numerous systems in your body and as we age, we typically eat less of the foods that supply it.
3. Don’t Forget Your Spine
Exercise is obviously an important part of keeping your body at peak performance. Some of us have already built it into our daily routines – walking regularly, lifting weights or hitting the gym. But as we age, keeping our bodies aligned and flexible has to take on more priority.
Even if you’re more of a couch potato than a weekend warrior, start by becoming aware of your posture. Keep your shoulders back, your chin up, spine straight. Get up from your desk and stretch at least once an hour.
Consider Tai Chi or Tai Kwan Do to foster the holistic connection between body and mind – these ancient practices help maintain flexibility and encourage mindfulness. If you can’t get to a class, there are plenty of free videos online.
4. Avoid Social Isolation
Stop for a second and imagine what your life will look like once you retire, or your children are grown and gone? If all your relationships are related to work or child-focused activities, it’s easy to become isolated when your lifestyle changes.
According to Canada’s National Council on Seniors, loneliness among older adults is increasing and can have a significant impact on quality of life. Don’t wait to find social outlets that support your interests and hobbies. Consider book clubs, cooking classes, golf lessons, quilting groups or support social and civic causes.
The goal is to engage with people who share your interests – outside of work or home. If you’ve been on the run for so long, you’re not sure what you like, it’s okay to try new things.
5. Less Junk Food for the Brain
Staying sharp is so important to long term holistic health. Too often our idea of relaxation involves “brain dead” TV binges that do nothing to strengthen our cognitive capabilities. Get in the habit of learning!
According to Science Daily, recent studies prove benefits from learning for memory and function. Take classes online or better yet at a local community college where you can meet new people. If you never went to college, didn’t finish your degree or need a high school diploma – now’s the time.
Turn off the TV and get back to reading. Find books that help you develop new skills or offer new insights on topics you’re already interested in. Don’t limit yourself to lofty tomes – learning can mean anything from using computers to cooking Thai food, or even a historical biography.
Holistic health honours the connection between mind, body and spirit. We can prepare for the changes that happen as we age by making some changes in our lifestyle today.
Pat Tiffin is a writer at Seniorcaredirectory. The site helps older adults and family members find local resources for care in their community. She sometimes teaches computer skills at a senior center in NC and embraces the holistic approach of mind body and spirit in the aging process. She loves dogs, gardening, and Tai Chi and is also a Reiki practitioner. She has published two novels and is currently working on her third.