“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” World Health Organization
There were many definitions of health and healthy that mostly deal with the body. When I read this statement, it made sense. Our overall health encompasses every part of our being. If one part is out of kilter, then everything is at risk. At age 65, I seem more focused on my physical health. I worry about gaining weight, falling, losing my eyesight or my teeth, and cancer. The problem with this kind of worry is that it takes its toll on my mental and social well-being. Part of the worry comes from not having proper health insurance after I retired. That sent me into a terrible tail-spin. Now that Medicare has kicked in, I’m trying to catch up on all of my preventive care. Except for the doctor telling me to lose weight in order to lower my BMI and keep check of the blood pressure, I seem to be in good health. The back is weak and the knees riddled with arthritis, but I carry on! I’ve enrolled in Silver Sneakers at a local retirement community and am trying to strengthen my body. My parents only lived into their seventies. I’m determined to live quite a bit longer. Hopefully, by taking care of my physical health, my mental and social health will benefit.
As far as my mental health goes, not sure how sound my mind is. I read, play puzzles and games to try to keep things sharp. However, mental health also entails maintaining a state of mind that is positive and uplifting. Depression and anxiety can really mess things up. I believe I have fought depression a good part of my adult life. I was a “half glass empty” type of person, a negative Nellie lacking self confidence and self awareness. I wanted to do so much, accomplish something with my life but being a perfectionist, I was terrified of failure and certain that I would fail. Marriage and motherhood was wonderful, but overwhelming at times. The marriage did fail, and while my boys have grown up to be amazing men, I hope I have not failed them. Once realizing that my mental health was at risk, I agreed to medication, attended therapy sessions and plowed through many self help books. Retiring has been a positive move and best of all, I have realized that I have to surround myself with positive people who uplift me, make me feel confident and full of life. At this time in my life, I believe that I am mentally healthier than I ever have been. Mental health will always be a struggle for me, but I will not allow it to cut my life short.
My social well-being may be the least healthiest area of my life. I have a few “girlfriends” who I really should spend more time with. No man in my life – that could be construed as good or bad, I guess. My largest circle of friends are the friends of my youngest son. They are amazing, and I love them dearly for including me in activities. Being with them helps keep me feeling young and that certainly helps me stay healthy physically, mentally and socially. As I get older, I sometimes feel I should try to renew old friendships, but I think maybe being actively connected with the current folk in my life is enough of a challenge for now. Of course, I am a Facebook addict which helps me keep in touch with my long distance friends. Texting is an amazing form of communication since I don’t really enjoy talking on the phone. I want to believe I’m an extrovert, however, at my core is an introvert trying to break out. So participating in things like the Silver Sneakers class helps me to be physical, strengthens me mentally, and encourages me to be social. It’s the first time in forever, that I am enjoying working out!
Final thoughts on staying healthy:
Watch some Hallmark once in a while. It’s sappy, but uplifting. Whatever emotion you want to tackle – love, anger, joy, sorrow, – a Hallmark movie/TV show will help you. It’s very cleansing! Or watch a Disney movie and return to your childhood for a brief time.
Eat delicious food and indulge in a little wine. Starving oneself was meant for your 20’s. In my 60’s, I want to savor every bite, every sip. I can stand to lose a few pounds, but I will never be skinny. In order to keep my body healthy as well as my mind, feed me. Better yet, let me eat with friends, often!
Lastly, dive into chocolate. Rich, dark chocolate – Hershey’s, Dove, York – provides antioxidants and flavonoids for heart health plus serotonin and phenylethyamine for mental health. To top it off, what better way to have social well-being than to enjoy chocolate covered cherries or strawberries with friends!
Sing, dance, and laugh often. Get out of the house and soak up some sunshine. Go window shopping so you are surrounded by people. Smile, say hello, be positive. Be healthy, stay healthy! As Spock says – “Live long and proper!”