Submitted by Wendy Chirieleison, MS Ed
Community Health Educator
Keep Your Heart Healthy By Maintaining Emotional Health & Well-Being!
It is February, Heart Health Month, and we all know how important it is to keep our hearts healthy! We have learned different tips on keeping our blood pressure and cholesterol in check, making healthy food choices, and exercise strategies. Did you know that it is equally important to maintain good emotional health and well-being?
What Does Research Tell Us?
According to Cummings & Henry (1961), as people enter into late adulthood, a very typical and gradual withdrawal or disengagement from physical, social, and psychological activity occurs. People may show less interest in the world, become more reflective, and have fewer social interactions on a day-to-day basis (Quinnan 1997).
Studies have been done to determine whether this disengagement has any negative effect on aging adults. While studies show that disengagement is a very normal part of aging, and sometimes a healthy occurrence, they also show that adults who remain active and involved were sometimes happier than those that had disengaged (Crosnoe & Elder 2002).
What Does This Mean?
Now, these findings do not suggest that you have to be busy every minute of the day. The “less is more” motto applies here, as less activity will bring yougreater enjoyment because you can focus more of your time on the activities that really matter to you.
What Can We Do?
According to Hutchinson & Wexler (2007), participating in the same type of activities and interests you had when you were middle-aged will help you age successfully, maintain a sense of well-being and self-esteem, and keep you satisfied with life.
Consider the significance of others, such as our friends and family. Social support is the comfort that comes from people who care about us. According to Antonucci (1990), this support plays a critical role in maintaining happiness and successful aging.
We can receive social support from a number of different sources including:
- Friends and acquaintances – who can offer a sympathetic ear, be a sounding board for issues or concerns, and provide agreatdegree of understanding to people experiencing problems, like the loss of a spouse.
- Family members – like siblings, who can provide an unusual amount of emotional support as they share old, pleasant memories from childhood to the present time. Also, children can provide agreatdeal of comfort and security by helping their aging parent to understand resources that are available to them, discussing important family matters, and to help care for their parents.
How Do We Do This?
Here is a list of things that you can do towards improving your emotional health and well-being, according to Diana Rodriguez (EveryDayHealth.com):
- Get up early and drink a nice hot cup of coffee or tea while enjoying the sun, birds, and other things going on outdoors.
- Take a walk every day, even if it is a short one.
- Schedule regular social events with friends and family.
- Find time to be alone with your spouse.
- Adopt a pet.
- Treat your senses by lighting candles, putting fresh cut flowers around the house, or getting a massage.
- Foster a new hobby like gardening, knitting, sewing, or bowling.
For more information, contact HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at www.nlh.org, or visit our wellness center at 213 Harrison Street Ext. in Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.