It is February, Heart Health Month, and we all know how important it is to keep our hearts healthy. We have learned different tips on keeping our blood pressure and cholesterol in check, making healthy food choices, and exercise strategies. Did you know that it is equally important to maintain good emotional health and well-being?
What Does Research Tell Us?
According to Cummings & Henry (1961), as people enter into late adulthood, a very typical and gradual withdrawal or disengagement from physical, social and psychological activity occurs. People may show less interest in the world, become more reflective, and have fewer social interactions on a day-to-day basis (Quinnan 1997).
Studies have been done to determine whether this disengagement has any negative effect on aging adults. While studies show that disengagement is a very normal part of aging, and sometimes a healthy occurrence, they also show that adults who remain active and involved were sometimes happier than those that had disengaged (Crosnoe & Elder 2002).
What Does This Mean?
Now, these findings do not suggest that you have to be busy every minute of the day. The "less is more" motto applies here, as less activity will bring you greater enjoyment because you can focus more of your time on the activities that really matter to you.
What Can We Do?
According to Hutchinson & Wexler (2007), participating in the same type of activities and interests you had when you were middle-aged will help you age successfully, maintain a sense of well-being and self-esteem, and keep you satisfied with life.
Consider the significance of others, such as our friends and family. Social support is the comfort that comes from people who care about us. According to Antonucci (1990), this support plays a critical role in maintaining happiness and successful aging.
We can receive social support from a number of different sources including:
Friends and acquaintances - who can offer a sympathetic ear, be a sounding board for issues or concerns, and provide a great degree of understanding to people experiencing problems, like the loss of a spouse.
Family members - like siblings, who can provide an unusual amount of emotional support as they share old, pleasant memories from childhood to the present time. Also, children can provide a great deal of comfort and security by helping their aging parent to understand resources that are available to them, discussing important family matters and helping care for their parents.
How Do We Do This?
Here is a list of things that you can do toward improving your emotional health and well-being, according to EveryDayHealth.com:
Get up early and drink a nice hot cup of coffee or tea while enjoying the sun, birds and other things going on outdoors.
Take a walk every day, even if it is a short one.
Schedule regular social events with friends and family.
Find time to be alone with your spouse.
Adopt a pet.
Treat your senses by lighting candles, putting freshcut flowers around the house or getting a massage.
Foster a new hobby such as gardening, knitting, sewing, or bowling.
For more information, call HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. People also can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, see its website at www.nlh.org, or visit its wellness center at 213 Harrison St. Ext. in Johnstown, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.