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  • Writer's pictureRobin Masters

Positive Mental Health

Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Positive mental health is about feeling good and functioning well. At many points in our lives, we have all struggled. Having a strong social support network and being able to speak openly with those you feel you can trust is key. With the right help we can get past those temporary hurdles. For years the stigma of mental crisis kept its sufferers in the corners. The biggest stumbling block may be being able to call it what it is: a health issue.

Seniors are affected by mental illness as often as other age groups. Feeling in control, able to focus and having an optimistic outlook about life events is what our mental health is all about. We need to feel able to cope, make our own decisions and be involved in the personal direction of where we would like our lives to go.

Depression is not a normal part of aging and seniors with depression are almost twice as likely to die sooner according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. One in four suicides is completed by people aged 60 and up. Sobering facts according to the Chief Public Health Officers Report, 2010. Risk factors may be present in pre-existing conditions like Diabetes, thyroid disorders, digestive disorders, Dementia, Alzheimer, Parkinson's and stroke events.

Risk factors for depression and anxiety can also be brought on by significant life changes like the loss of a loved one, becoming disabled, enduring an illness, injury or moving to a new home or starting new medications. Living a risky lifestyle of excessive alcohol & drug use; more than one drink per day or indulging every day exceed health guidelines and will most definitely contribute to the degradation of the brain and wellbeing.

How can we boost mental health and keep well? Fuel the brain! Diet has a tremendous impact on our mind and our bodies. Move the body. Exercise is not just a physical benefit but an essential mental health activity as well. Connect with nature and get outside. Connect with family, friends & community and stay involved. Keep up with technology and keep learning. Most of all and not surprisingly, sleep!

Sleep is the restorer of all things mind and body. Many older adults don't strive for a regular sleep schedule and we should. A suitable bedtime and a reasonable waking time sets our circadian rhythm for the day. It can also lead to happier, healthier, longer and safer lives.

Just as we feed our bodies, so too we feed our minds. Encourage positive thought intake, especially self-talk and watch out for the negative programing. With lots of choices out there, be sure you take time to consider the value of encouraging and enlightening news. Never underestimate the power of quiet in the head. Reach out and keep connected, for yourself, for your loved ones and for your own precious peace of mind.

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