Most of us have some level of anxiety, and for some it can be debilitating. For those, including seniors, with mild anxiety, there are some easy things that one can do to help lower your levels of anxiety. This is what we will talk about today in our blog: anxiety reduction tips for seniors.
Regular exercise is always a good choice—for almost everything. It’s good for your physical health, like your heart and blood pressure, your weight, your bone density, and it is also good for your mental health. We are totally serious. Exercise is often prescribed for both anxiety and depression because it really works. (Anxiety and depression are related, and what works for one often helps the other.)
There is some truth to the old adage, “you are what you eat.” Make an effort to eat well: a balanced diet, low in processed foods, high in colourful fruits and vegetables, and with enough protein and calories. This is easier when seniors live in a senior community like ours in Red Deer, where trained professionals are preparing balanced meals for the residents. In addition, lots of seniors are not as hungry as they used to be. But eating well is really important for every part of you, especially if there is something that needs attention, like too much anxiety. If you eat better, you will feel better.
Try mindfulness meditation. We mention it regularly because it works! It is easy to do and it is free to learn and practice. There are plenty of books, YouTube videos, and online articles that can teach you how. The idea behind it is to put your mind and body in a relaxed state. Some people can enter a meditative state just by doing some handwork, like knitting or drawing, especially when it involves a repetitive motion. If you can learn to practice some mindfulness meditation even for just a few minutes per day, every day, you will reduce your anxiety and feel better.
There is something called “therapeutic journaling” which is writing down regularly and keeping a record of your feelings. There is a convincing body of evidence from many years of research that journaling is good for your mental health and can reduce anxiety (Mirgain and Singles). The idea behind it is that it is good to express your feelings, especially if something is bothering you. When you write things down or keep a journal or diary of your feelings, then you can gain some insight into when your anxiety is better or worse or triggered or relieved. Plus, journaling is free! You can do it at any time either on your computer or with a pencil and paper.
The tips mentioned above can be helpful for reducing mild anxiety for seniors or anyone else. However, if your level of anxiety is severe and interferes with your daily function, then never be afraid to discuss it with your family doctor and seek professional help. Some medications can help reduce anxiety, and cognitive behaviour therapy (talk therapy) is well documented to help patients lower their anxiety levels. There is no good reason to suffer in silence.
Mirgain, Shilagh, and Janice Singles. “Therapeutic Journaling.” Whole Health Library, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 2016, va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/tools/therapeutic-journaling.asp#:~:text=Therapeutic%20journaling%20is%20the%20process,we%20may%20be%20struggling%20with.
The Hamlets at Red Deer, located in Red Deer, Alberta, is at the forefront in the provision of services for those suffering from dementia in an assisted-living environment. The Hamlets at Red Deer has values based on tenets of Christianity and is committed to helping residents attain the highest physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
If you have any questions about this article or would like to talk to us about our Red Deer community, please call us at (403) 986-1250.