By: Heather Lillico, HAVN Life Wellness Expert
Many things change as we get older. We forget where we put our keys, our joints stiffen, and we have no idea what young people are talking about anymore. Partly to blame is that our body and brain change with aging, as does our mood. Many older adults are at risk of developing mental health concerns which impacts longevity. Check out these 4 must haves for your mental health that are especially important as you age.
Fuel your brain
Your brain changes as you age. It shrinks at a rate of about 5% per decade after age 40 (1). And with many people’s modern lifestyles of stress and poor diet, the brain that remains becomes inflamed. This neuroinflammation can affect mental health, leading to feeling irritable, anxious, or depressed (2).
Fueling your brain properly and preventing or slowing this decline is key for your mental health. Eating a diet with a range of real, whole, foods is your best bet for a healthy brain. I like to say “eat the rainbow”…and I don’t mean Skittles. Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with brain protecting-antioxidants to keep you healthy as you age.
Consider your supplements as well. A patented formula like HAVN Life’s Brain Evolve Anti-aging contains ingredients that target healthy cognitive function. One oversight for mental health is the importance of high quality sleep, and the formula contains melatonin to promote a good night’s rest.
Move your body
Engaging in physical activity doesn’t just add years to your life, it adds life to your years. In other words, it can keep you healthier for longer. We all know about the physical benefits of exercise, but what about the mental benefits?
Regular exercise can improve mood. Research shows it reduces the risk of depression in older adults, and is consistently linked with improved quality of life and overall well-being (3). Getting active releases endorphins and increases serotonin, making you feel good.
As you age consider the types of activity you engage in. You’re going for health & longevity, not for a full body burnout that overloads your joints. Yoga, tai-chi, aquafit, a weight lifting program, or walking are all great choices!
Find your people
Social connections are an important part of healthy aging, and people with a strong social network are happier and feel more supported. The pandemic has certainly affected social connections, but there are ways to bounce back.
Join an interest group, such as gardening, playing cards, or a book club. Connecting with others around a shared interest is a great way to meet people. Keeping a schedule can also maintain social connections. Having standing dates for phone calls or coffee meet ups keeps you accountable and connected on the regular.
Try something new
As we age we get stuck in ruts. We eat the same foods, visit the same places, and talk to the same people. Switching to a new track gets harder when the ruts are deep, but there are easy ways to find novelty!
It can be as simple as taking a new route on your walk, listening to a new song, or trying a new recipe from a different cuisine (even easier: order from a new take out joint). When you try something new your brain gets a hit of dopamine, the reward and motivation neurotransmitter. Frequently doing this leads to new neural connections being formed, meaning a healthier brain.
Want to boost this learning process? Lion’s mane mushroom has been shown to increase function in the hippocampus, an area of the brain responsible for memory and learning (4). As a bonus, it’s also been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving overall mental health (5).