Mental health is a vital component of a healthy lifestyle, especially as you age and move into a new stage of life - according to the World Health Organisation, as many as 1 in 5 adults aged 60 or over suffer from a mental or neurological disorder.
As you get older there are certain factors that may impact your mental health that you’ve maybe never struggled with before. For example, older people are more likely to lose a partner or close friends and quite a few find themselves living with much less disposable cash after retirement.
Strategies to stay sharp after sixty
- Set a routine for yourself. You’re probably used to waking up, going to work and eating lunch at around the same time every day and suddenly not having that structure can cause havoc with your mental health. Setting a schedule for yourself – even if it’s arbitrary and feels a bit silly - then sticking to it, is the first step in making sure your life remains structured and healthy after retirement.
- Find a fun way to stay active. Staying fit and active is important for your physical health and your mental wellbeing, but if you’ve never liked the gym, now is not the time to start going. Instead, try taking a dance class, walking with friends or bike riding – the more you enjoy it, the more likely you’ll be to stick with it!
- Exercise your mind. Books, puzzles, crosswords and sudoku – whatever your favourite pastime, make it a habit! The WHO estimates that 50 million people are living with dementia, and one of the ways to stave off this condition is to keep your brain active and challenged.
- Keep up a balanced diet. As you get older, it’s important to keep an eye on your diet and according to Nutrition Australia you should aim for a diet high in calcium, vitamin D and fibre. And if you have trouble with regular grocery shopping, canned goods, rice, pasta and baked beans are long-lasting staples that can be used to make nutritious meals.
- Get in touch with friends regularly. It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re no longer working, especially if your kids have left home and started families of their own. That’s why it’s important to make the effort to maintain close friendships. This gives you a much-needed support system that you can lean on in this new stage of your life.
- Volunteer your time. Finally, if you’re struggling with the sudden slow pace of retirement and feel like you need to put a bit more purpose back in your life, why not give back to the community by volunteering? Worthy charities and community groups are always looking for volunteers and with time on your hands and a life experience on your side, you just might be the perfect candidate.
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No matter how you choose to do it, staying mentally healthy is all about connecting with people around you and doing things that are worthwhile and that you love. So, what are you waiting for?
You should always seek your health professional's advice before you start an exercise program or new diet.