As we grow older, we are constantly overcoming small limitations and preventing or dealing with age-related health challenges. Most of us know the benefits to the body of diet and exercise along with regular medical check-ups. But this is our time to thrive, and it takes more than attention to the physical to have a healthy life. Tom Magnus, a Licensed Professional Counselor, helps people rethink their habits and attitudes so that the total person thrives, and not just physically. He recommends paying attention to the following areas in addition to physical health:
How do you feel about your life? Are you doing things that make you happy? Are you working to overcome fears? Are you dealing with grief in a healthy way? Do you say "yes" to interesting and maybe new experiences? Do you say "no" to activities and experiences that cause you stress? Do you socialize with positive people and limit your exposure to negative people? If physical limitations are keeping from doing things you enjoy, are you looking for a "workaround" such as wheelchair service through airports or matinees instead of evening performances?
Be sure to face your feelings and discover if anything is bothering you. If it is, make a plan for dealing with your concerns. You may want to talk to a friend, overcome a fear, or treat yourself to a pleasurable activity. This is the time in life to re-read favorite books, to watch a favorite movie one more time, to seek out new interests. Love yourself and know that you deserve it. Be good to yourself by filling your hours with activities that please you.
Never forget the importance of community. Keep your living space clean and comfortable for visitors -- and then invite people to visit regularly. Visit them. Make plans to meet for lunch, a movie, a walk, or a museum. Join an interest group to meet others who share your passion for books, sports, travel, art -- whatever makes you happy and holds your interest. Volunteer with a cause you are passionate about or want to learn more about. In retirement, a calendar is as important as it was when your life was overbooked with work, family, and social events. Keep your calendar in a prominent place and make sure it is as full of interesting activities with others as your comfort level allows. Some people need contact with others every day. For others, once a week is enough. Now is the time in life that you can decide just how social you want to be.
Consider how you contribute to the world and your own sense of wonder and appreciation of it. Every day, remind yourself what you are grateful for and think about how you can help others. Experience nature in all its seasons. Meditate and pray according to your spiritual beliefs. Participate in a faith community. Remember that you can help others simply by being positive, hopeful, and optimistic. Look for ways to help others and the planet. Can you help out at a soup kitchen? Pick up plastic on the beach? What things about our world disturb you that you can help make better? Someone once said, "All I do is just a teardrop in an ocean of need. But it is MY teardrop."
When you are feeling out of sorts, figure out why. Maybe it will help to take a walk, to visit or call a friend, to curl up with a favorite book, to teach a child to read, to organize your photos, to go to a different grocery store. You know what makes you happy or more content. Just do it. As the famous writer Robert Louis Stevenson said, "The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."
Although the things we can do and experience may diminish as we age, there is still no end to the possibilities!