Most of us understand “New Year’s resolutions” as a set of goals and changes committed to at the start of January and abandoned (comically) before month’s end. But thanks to COVID-19 (again) making our traditions and holidays look different, the ritual of making New Year’s resolutions requires a fresh approach.
As Covid continues to alter how we live and interact, traditional resolutions like “go to the gym” or “travel more” are unrealistic. Of greater benefit to our overall well-being as we enter the New Year is to make resolutions that are focused on mental and emotional health. In fact, experts say this is priority.
As the pandemic continues, many seniors are experiencing more anxiety, anger, sadness, loss, fright, and other heightened emotions. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of all American adults believe the pandemic is harming their mental health, with older adults being at higher risk.
According to AARP, “To boost your overall outlook, psychologists recommend getting plenty of sleep, eating balanced meals, going outside if you can and staying physically active. Self-compassion is also important; acknowledging your feelings can help you cope in a healthy way.” Click here to read more self-care tips from AARP.
Each person’s life is different; each person has individual needs, hopes and dreams, but there are many universal truths, hopes and dreams that still bind us together. Getting older gives us the gift of looking back and life and seeing it from a different perspective. It’s a gift that should be embraced. So, here are a few ideas to reflect on as you ponder your resolutions for 2021.
Gratitude: Before you resolve to do anything different, take a moment to reflect on the things in your life that you are happy about. Write them down. Write down even the small things that bring a smile to your face. You may end up with a longer list than you thought.
Feelings of gratitude release positive endorphins throughout the body, which in turn create not only emotional health, but physical health. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. Love and appreciation are strong healing forces. Let these feelings replace any negative emotions you may be experiencing.
Accept what you cannot change: You now have a long list of the things in your life that you love and you are feeling very positive. Before considering the changes you would like to make in your life, say the Serenity Prayer to yourself. The words are simple, yet powerful.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Change what you can: You are now in a good place to consider what you would like to change or improve in your life, and you will be approaching these possibilities with a very constructive attitude.
Caregiving considerations: The beginning of the year is an excellent time to reassess your caregiving needs. Do the caregiving hours you presently have work well for you? Would live-in service be more cost effective than hourly care? Would a monitoring system work well for you at nighttime? Would an assisted living arrangement be a better alternative to in-home care? We encourage you to make an appointment with an Amada Senior Care customer service representative to discuss details of your care and make sure that you are receiving exactly what you need.
K.I.S.S: Keep It Simple and Smile! Life is like a roller coaster and constantly has its ups and downs. Life may never be without hassles and irritations, but we can choose how we approach it. Smile more often, even when things are not going as you had hoped. It will certainly make the people around you feel better. There are 43 muscles in the face and at least half of these are needed to smile, so you can get some exercise at the same time! Learn to live with a little less and don’t take on more than you can handle.
Declutter: Clutter complicates life because it makes even simple tasks more onerous. If you are surrounded by stuff that is not making you feel good, start to get rid of some of it a little at a time. It can be very freeing. Try reading about Feng Shui, which is the ancient Chinese art of enhancing your environment in order to create balance and harmony in your life. The goal of Feng Shui is to create a living environment that is comfortable, orderly, supportive and nourishing.
Talk about what is right with you not what is wrong: “Getting old is not for sissies,” Bette Davis famously said. As we reach our senior years, unless we are extremely lucky, we are likely to suffer from more ailments, whether serious illnesses or minor aches and pains. When someone asks how you are, instead of starting with a litany of what is wrong and going into minute detail about health issues, start with what is going well. The gratitude endorphins will start kicking in.
Let grudges go: If you are harboring resentment towards anyone, why not make this the year you let that go? The only person who is really hurt by holding on to negative emotions is you. They can be a serious emotional health hazard. Even if someone has hurt you, don’t let that hurt continue by nurturing anger and bitterness. Embrace forgiveness and you will also embrace peace and hope. Let go of any grudges and embark on the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Live in the now: Looking at old photos and savoring memories of the past is often a cherished habit over the holidays. Many of us postponed this tradition and a few of us were able to do participate in a virtual version over a mobile device. Instead of dwelling on missed traditions, remind yourself that this pandemic time is temporary. Now that the New Year has started, live as fully as possible in the now. Doing so will help you keep your emotional balance. Besides, the present is a very precious gift.
“2021 Resolutions for Mental and Emotional Health,” written by Jane Noble and Michelle Flores, Amada blog contributors. Photo by Dylan Sauerwein at Unsplash.