The faster the world gets, the more we need to slow down. Making time to take care of yourself is vital, especially as you grow older. Here are five self-care tips you can use to increase your overall health.
1. Get Enough Sleep
There’s more to sleep than sweet dreams. Sleep is when your body rests and resets. Without it, you can see negative effects from your head to your toes, including increased anxiety and higher blood pressure.
To avoid a restless night — and get at least seven hours of quality sleep — create a comfortable bedtime routine. Hit the sack at the same time every night, and banish screens from your bedroom. If falling asleep is a constant challenge, consider a sound machine, meditation or talking to your physician.
2. Eat Well
This is a crucial slice of self-care no matter how old you are, but its importance only expands as you grow older. Nourish your body with healthy, whole foods that lift your energy level and support your body’s systems. Avoid processed and packaged foods that are full of salt and preservatives. They may be convenient, but at best, they’ll make you sluggish; at worst, they’ll cause weight gain.
3. Keep Your Stress in Check
Stress may decrease with age, as your children start their own families and your work-related obligations grow tamer (or disappear entirely!), but it certainly doesn’t go away. In fact, between decreasing mobility and the high cost of health care, simply growing older can be a huge source of stress.
If you don’t manage those stressors, they can cause or exacerbate a host of health problems:
A compromised immune system
Heart attack and other cardiac issues
To keep your stress level low, keep moving. Even something as simple as a nightly walk after dinner can do wonders for your stress. Learning relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, is another way to decrease day-to-day pressure. For me, yoga, combines the best of both worlds when it comes to movement and mindfulness. Plus, I’m more flexible than ever!
4. Make Time for Friends
Loneliness inspired dozens of memorable pop songs, but it has no place in your life if you want to optimize your health and wellness. Persistent loneliness can cause anxiety and stress to spike.
Feeling isolated isn’t just bad for your mental health, either. In addition to nudging your stress and anxiety levels off the charts, it can also affect your body in negative ways, such as:
Increased risk of heart disease
Spending time with your friends and family is imperative to wellness. Getting together for coffee, shopping or a quick stroll around the park can provide a huge boost to your mental health.
If your loved ones are spread out across the map, get involved in your community. Volunteering for organizations and causes that hold meaning for you is just one way to start expanding your social circle. Don’t know where to begin? Your local library likely plays host to a variety of groups and guest speakers.
5. Kick Old Habits
Old habits may die hard, but once you hit 50, the jig is up. If you’re still smoking, drinking heavily, or regularly indulging in junk food, it’s time to make a concerted effort to stop.
The benefits will kick in almost immediately. Bid farewell to your daily cookie binge, for example, and you’ll feel less lethargic. Stop smoking and you’ll literally be breathing easier in as little as 48 hours. You’ll also stop accelerating the aging process and start decreasing your odds of a variety of health problems that are fed by cigarettes, such as heart disease.
With age comes wisdom. Know when it’s time to take a break from business as usual and indulge in some self-care. Better still, incorporate these tips into your daily routine. Your mind and body will thank you for it.