Practical Ways to Knock Out Sadness, Pain, and Isolation
‘Depressed’ was not the word you imagined would describe your senior years.
You certainly didn’t count on this heavy, listless feeling weighing down your life.
You don’t have to suffer the drain of depression forever.
You can survive the sadness and pain, reawaken your motivation, and reclaim your vigor.
Despite what it feels like, depression and aging do not go hand in hand.
You can push back against depression’s claim on your relationships, health, and sense of purpose, one choice at a time.
Here are a few things you can do:
1) Weed Out. Weed out what no longer serves you. Reevaluate what really matters. It’s okay to intentionally let go and move forward. Are there things, habits, even relationships that keep you feeling stuck or bogged down in the past? This season of your life deserves new consideration. Set new goals. Journal your journey. Try to see the future with fresh eyes.
2) Get Out. Get out of your own head, out of your room, out of your house. Let sun and fresh air work their magic. If only for a brief time, go outdoors. If mobility is an issue, position yourself near a window and take in the world. Mindfully appreciate what’s going on around you instead of ruminating on problems you’ve revisited time and time again. Breathe in. Life is good. Breathe out. Let the rest go.
3) Work Out. Work out some of that lethargy. Ease the anxiety and insomnia. Exercise needn’t be tedious or unrealistically strenuous to provide significant benefits. Regular movement keeps the blood flowing and the mind alert. Gentle stretches to begin your day, leisurely walks around the mall, or arm circles while you watch a movie facilitate a healthier body, especially when combined with healthy food choices. A healthy body helps support a happier mind.
4) Reach Out. Reach out to the people who need you. There is a whole community in need of a willing and knowledgeable mentor, consultant, or volunteer. You have a lifetime of valuable, share-worthy life experiences. People want to tap into your knowledge and wisdom. Depression has a sneaky way of making you question your worth. It says you’re alone, it tells you you’re sick, keeps you in bed. Challenge those thoughts. When depression says withdraw, reach out.
5) Hang Out. Hang out with your friends and family. They miss you. Check in with former coworkers. Visit with neighbors. Socialize and connect. Listen to a few stories. Tell a few of your own. If you find that friends and family are few and far between, it may be worth your while to visit a local senior center or connect with others online to get your social juices flowing.
6) Try Out. Try out a new activity, learn a new skill, or pursue a new adventure. Explore the world again. Depression tries hard to sap your energy and motivation. Nurture your mind, body, and soul. You’ll find it more difficult to pursue dark thoughts down the rabbit hole when your mind is stimulated by new pursuits offered locally or online.
7) Talk it Out. Talk out your struggles. Share your feelings. Express your concerns. Meeting with a counselor to work through depression provides a safe environment for dealing with thoughts about aging, life changes, loss, and your future. There is no shame or weakness in seeking help. In fact, the decision to call a counselor is a sign of strength, a concrete choice to do what you can to beat depression and get the most out of life.