Around 1-in-4 adults experience a mental health issue in any given year, according to mental health charity, Mind. Whether or not modern day habits and behaviours can be responsible for this, it’s still a very real issue. For many of us, it’s more complicated than attempting to prevent the onset of mental health conditions - but, there are behaviours and activities we can try, to improve our ability to deal with unexpected life curveballs.
Unfortunately, older people can be more vulnerable to mental health issues, according to the Mental Health Foundation. This is something we take seriously at the Huntington and Langham Estate, and is also something we try to combat by encouraging our residents to partake in therapeutic activities.
Walking in nature
Venturing back to our roots is often a very effective way to combat negative feelings. As humans, we’re biologically wired to thrive amongst nature, and exposing ourselves to the outdoors can help to rekindle our innate ‘zest for life’.
Unhealthy habits, such as exposing ourselves to screens for long periods of time, can lead to feelings of apathy and agitation. Try taking breaks during the day, and use the time to explore the outdoors - whether that’s going for a woodland stroll, or engaging in gardening. You’ll be rewarded with a refreshing boost of energy and welcome mood boost - and you’ll likely experience a better night’s sleep.
Chat with a friend over a cup of tea
It seems so simple, but allowing yourself time each day to interact with a friend can have significant positive impacts to your mental health. Friendships are so important, and are particularly effective in preventing feelings of loneliness. Surrounding yourself with friends for a short time each day can make you feel much happier in general - and it’s something we really cherish here at the Huntington and Langham Estate.
Pets can have significant positive impacts on our lives - not only acting as loyal companions, but also reducing feelings of loneliness for their owners. Pets can bring immense joy - and the positive emotions they instil can, in fact, support long-term happiness and health.
As a result of the deep connections we’re able to have with domestic animals, interacting with pets has shown to reduce instances of depression, support lower blood pressure and offer a boost in serotonin (our happy hormone).
Just as we have an innate need to feel joy and satisfaction, as humans, we need the experience of touch. Pets fulfil this need, with the actions of stroking and tactile interaction instilling feelings of calm and peace.
At the estate, we love watching our residents interact with our on-site pets; with puppies, cats and horses making regular visits!
This feline is a much-loved resident at the estate!
Listen to calming music & nature sounds
The human body has the amazing ability to react to the most intricate of sounds. When we listen to calming music, we can expect to experience feelings of peace and serenity, with the wide variety of notes working to create pleasurable emotions within the brain. Low tempo music tends to help reduce the heart rate, aiding the body to succumb to a peaceful, sleepy state.
Similarly, nature sounds work to boost positive emotions, offering a sensory experience that taps into our innate desire to be surrounded by nature. You could try listening to a variety of animal or weather-based sounds - or a combination of both.
Try mindfulness and/or gratitude journaling
The art of mindfulness has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely due to the positive effects it has on the body. Modern day habits and behaviours have made it increasingly more difficult for us to focus on the present moment - but it’s highly important that we try to do so. Not only does being present reduce feelings of stress, but it helps us to appreciate the little things - something that many of us forget to do.
For beginners, it can often help to meditate with audible guidance. Headspace is a popular app, helping people of all abilities to let go of their stresses and focus on the present moment.
Particularly as we get older, it becomes even more important to appreciate things that we might otherwise overlook. Try mentally noting three things you’re grateful for each day - whether that’s being thankful for the food you’re eating, or appreciating your close friends/family members. Try to live more mindfully, too; this can take the form of switching off the TV whilst you’re eating, and being sure to pay attention to all of your senses whilst you head for an outdoor stroll.
Practise gentle yoga & deep breathing
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be particularly flexible to try your hand at yoga. As a practice, yoga can be adapted to suit all abilities - from beginners to advanced yogis. You can even try yoga from the comfort of your arm chair; as long as you’re stretching and breathing deeply, you’ll feel the benefits - which range from improved respiration and circulatory health, to an instant mood boost.
If simply engaging in deep breathing would make you feel more comfortable, then you can do so with the knowledge that you’ll still gain physiological benefits. Breathing mindfully can instil feelings of relaxation and improve bodily functions - from aiding our digestion, to improving our blood flow. Whilst you’re breathing, try holding your hand on your stomach, feeling it rise and fall - this is great for encouraging your mind to focus on the present moment.
There are so many ways you can instil feelings of peace and serenity - and they don’t have to require intense physical or mental exertion. At the Huntington and Langham Estate, we love encouraging our residents to engage in activities that boost their mental health. To find out more about our care, please click here.