May 3, 2023:   Blog by McMaster University

Mental health and emotional well-being are critical considerations for our aging population. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15% of adults aged 60 and over have a mental disorder. May 1-7 is Mental Health Week in Canada, intended to raise awareness about mental health and well-being and reduce stigma. Below are a few evidence-based strategies that can help you strengthen your mental well-being.

 Enhance mood and well-being with exercise

One of the many benefits of exercise is that it can enhance mood and improve well-being due to endorphins and other “feel good” chemicals in the brain that are released when we are active. Incorporating some form of exercise into your day-to-day routine may help to reduce symptoms of depression while promoting a healthier outlook.

Break the cycle of isolation

Loneliness and social isolation (the absence of fulfilling relationships, a sense of belonging, and meaningful social contacts) can lead to poor mental health. Connecting with others, whether in person or virtually, to relive memories and share personal stories can promote self-esteem, provide a sense of fulfillment and comfort, and help people link the past and present.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet  

Happy or sad, food is a go-to for celebration and comfort. While your feelings can impact eating behaviours, research shows that your diet may also influence your mental well-being. In addition to the established benefits on physical health—such as reducing the risk of chronic disease—choosing wisely what you put into your body may slightly improve mood.

Prevent depression with cognitive behaviour therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that aims to identify negative or false thoughts and replace them with healthier, more positive ones. This allows people to respond to challenging situations more effectively and may help prevent depression.

Laugh to reduce feelings of sadness and worry

Participate in laughter and humour activities, such as laughter yoga or watching a funny movie. Laughter and humour can help you maintain perspective during hard times. For example, take humour activities. They can help you identify, communicate, and value the (at times) inconsistent or ridiculous aspects of life in a fun way.


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