The holiday season, with its joy and cheer, often leaves us in a whirlwind of activities and emotions. As we step into the new year, it’s important for everyone, especially seniors, to focus on self-care and engaging activities to keep spirits high and maintain good health.
The third Monday of every year (and the time around it) is known as “Blue Monday”, a little-known but widely-felt time when spirits slump and depression can hit record highs. Blue Monday hits especially hard for senior citizens, who are already the most vulnerable to the loneliness epidemic. So, it’s important to be prepared and use this list – it’s guaranteed to offer some ideas that can help make this time of year as festive as any other!
1. Reflect, Set Simple Goals, and Make Plans
The new year is a perfect opportunity for reflection. Take some time to think about the past year – the joys, the challenges, and everything in between. Setting simple, achievable goals or plans can be a great way to look forward to the year ahead. These could be related to fitness, hobbies, or even social activities.
2. Stay Physically Active
Physical activity is crucial for maintaining health and a positive mindset. Participate in group exercise classes if available, or simply make a habit of walking around your community. Gentle exercises like stretching, yoga, or tai chi can be both invigorating and relaxing. Limited on space or have an injury? Chair yoga is a great option!
3. Engage in Mind-Stimulating Activities
Keep your brain active with puzzles, reading, or games. Many senior living communities offer a variety of activities that stimulate the mind, but anyone, anywhere with a smartphone should have at least one app dedicated to brain exercise – no matter what their age. Any chance to engage in games with friends is a bonus – socializing and brain exercising!
4. Embrace Creativity
Creativity isn’t just for artists – it’s a wonderful way for seniors to express themselves. Activities like painting, crafting, or even writing can be therapeutic. You might consider starting a personal journal or joining an art class. With technology, even a smartphone, the options available are far greater than they used to be! If your options are limited for a local class or group, you’re sure to find the right one online!
5. Socialize and Connect
The holidays may be over, but the socializing doesn’t have to stop. Continue to build relationships with like-minded people and those who share your interests. Engage in group activities, attend social events, or simply share a meal with a friend. Even if it’s virtual, connection with others is key to emotional well-being. Seniors are especially susceptible to the loneliness pandemic, and the risks are real. Staying connected is critical.
6. Explore Technology
Technology can be a window to the world. Whether it’s video calling with family, exploring your favorite hobbies in online groups, or even learning a new language, technology can keep you connected and engaged. Be sure to help your senior open that window by setting up their tech properly!
7. Focus on Nutrition
Post-holiday is a great time to re-focus on nutrition. Keep a perspective of self-love to stay motivated, and know that you will thank yourself sooner than you think! Don’t be afraid to indulge, but enjoy well-balanced meals and stay hydrated! Seniors in assisted living communities often have nutritionists who can help create a diet plan, but the Nutrition and Aging Resource Center online has everything you need, from recipes to inspirations to make your diet more exciting, and even some healthy eating hacks!
8. Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation
Practicing mindfulness can greatly enhance your emotional well-being. Simple breathing exercises, meditation, or even listening to calming music can help you stay centered and relaxed. Mindfulness has even been recently revealed as an effective exercise to improve memory!
9. Volunteer or Mentor
If your health permits, consider volunteering or mentoring. Sharing your life experiences and knowledge with others can be incredibly fulfilling and can make a positive impact in someone’s life. Not a writer? Even a smartphone can help you write your story with a text-to-speech app. Those stories and memories are also a priceless gift for your loved ones on any occasion.
10. Plan for the Outdoors
As the weather permits, spend time in nature. If there’s a nearby garden, take a walk, or even participate in gardening. Even small, indoor gardening can be a great start! The change of scenery, even just seeing nature, can do wonders for your mood and health. If you’re at an assisted living community like Amber Court of Elizabeth, the rooftop terrace is always full of inspiration! Step outside and take in a deep breath and the spectacular view!
11. Revisit Old Hobbies or Discover New Ones
Now is a great time to revisit hobbies you’ve enjoyed in the past or to discover new ones. Try one of each – something tried and true and something new! Whether it’s knitting, cooking class, or learning a new language, engaging in hobbies can be both fulfilling and fun. Almost everyone has something they used to love to do, but haven’t done in years… that’s a love to rekindle!
12. Attend Workshops and Lectures
Workshops and lectures – continued learning and self-improvement can be fun, fulfilling and even give a new sense of purpose. These can be great opportunities to learn something new and interact with others. If you use the internet, the options are endless for online enrichment and groups of people with similar interests.
13. Regular Health Check-Ups
Post-holiday is a good time to schedule any pending health check-ups. Regular monitoring of your health is key to a happy and healthy life. Want to go a step further? Take this opportunity to begin keeping your health journal – appointments, concerns, questions and, of course, medications. Like nutrition, keep an attitude of self-love to stay motivated, because a simple health journal could help someone save your life if they have to act fast!
14. Stay Positive and Practice Gratitude
Above all, maintaining a positive outlook and practicing gratitude can have a profound impact on your mental and physical health. Focus on the good, practice gratitude for the small joys, and keep a hopeful perspective.
* Bonus Tip #15
Having trouble knowing where to start, or what you could try that’s new? There’s a great saying… “If you want to know where your heart lies, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” What things do you think of when you get distracted? What are the topics that really catch your attention in your favorite TV shows? There are a lot of good ideas hiding in plain sight!
The truth is that the period after the holidays is a time of opportunity. It’s a chance to focus on yourself, your health, and your happiness. By putting some of these ideas and activities into practice, maintaining social connections, and taking care of your health, you can use this time to ensure a fulfilling, fantastic year ahead!
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