Most of us focus on our physical self, ailments, illnesses, etc.  It seems that seldom do we think about mental health until it is put in front of us, either through Alzheimer's Disease and other types of dementia.  Yet seniors should not neglect their psychological wellness!

Centra Mental Health Services publishes an excellent monthly newsletter entitled "Mental Health Matters."  Back in March the cover story was on eight suggested therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLCs) to enhance your psychological well being:

Exercise is among one of the eight therapeutic lifestyle changes (TLCs) identified by Walsh (2011) in a metaanalysis of current research. He argues that there is too little focus on TLCs despite considerable signs of their effectiveness regarding emotional well-being. In addition to exercise, the other seven identified beneficial TLCs are:
 
• Nutrition and diet. Looking at 160 studies, Walsh suggests that the mental health of nations may be linked to nutrition and diet.
 
• Nature. Interacting with nature improves cognitive reasoning, Walsh says. For thousands of years, spiritual leaders have known that solace can be found in nature.  Although it is shown that nature helps to heal and calm, increasing numbers of people spend their lives in artificial environments and virtual realities in which they are increasingly removed from nature.
 
• Relationships. According to Walsh, rich relationships not only reduce health risks but boost resilience and happiness, perhaps even wisdom.
 
• Recreation and enjoyable activities. Walsh says these are central to a happy lifestyle. For example, play and playfulness fosters maturation in children and humor often mitigates stress.
 
• Relaxation and stress management. Chronic stressors have been shown to exact tolls on both physical and psychological well-being. Walsh advocates an emphasis on stress reduction through stress management techniques such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation and guided imagery.
 
• Spiritual involvement. Religion and mental health is a complex but important connection. Walsh reports that spirituality focused on love and forgiveness has been found to be most beneficial.
 
• Contribution and service. People who volunteer to help others have been found to be psychologically happier and healthier, and they may live longer.
 
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