6 tips to boost resilience and stay well through major life changes

Major life changes can be challenging and sometimes stressful; but, if you attend to your health needs, this can help you to feel better, stay grounded and be more resilient through big life transitions.

Maintaining mental and emotional wellness through life’s changes is key to coping with transitions, such as moving into a new retirement community, and turning them into positive opportunities. If you are preparing to move, or have just moved into a retirement community, here are some tips to boost your resilience and make the transition easier:

1. Take a long walk. Regular walking improves mood and eases anxiety,* and is a healthy coping strategy, advises Mayo Clinic. Older women who walked regularly improved their mental sharpness and lowered their risk of cognitive decline,* reported a Journal of the American Medical Association study.

2. Make social plans. Staying socially-connected with family, friends, neighbours or your community supports mental wellness during late life transitions,* says the Public Health Agency of Canada. The risk of developing a disability in activities of daily living over an average of five years is reduced by 43% for each additional social activity* engaged in, reports University of Manitoba.

3. Practice meditation. Mindfulness meditation helped older adults experiencing insomnia and depression improve their sleep and mood,* reported a JAMA Internal Medicine study. Acting to improve sleep and mood helps older adults feel a greater sense of control* through changes in their lives, according to a Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences study.

4. Be positive about aging. Older adults who had more positive attitudes about aging were more resilient in responding to stressful situations and experienced fewer negative emotions, such as fear, irritability or distress,* in dealing with change, reported a Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences study.

5. Reconnect with your passions. Rekindle a passion for creative expression through painting, drawing, music, dance, drama or storytelling. Creative art pursuits offer multiple benefits by helping older adults relax, encouraging playfulness and a sense of humour, offering sensory stimulation, fostering a stronger sense of identity and improving mental sharpness,* according to Today’s Geriatric Medicine.

6. Stay active by volunteering. Older adults who volunteer for just a few hours a week tend to be happier, enjoy better physical health, be more physically active, have a lower risk of cognitive decline, and live longer,* according to a study by Toronto’s Rotman Research Institute.

Chartwell Retirement Residences offers a wide range of recreational, physical and social programs and activities to choose from. If you’re considering a move to a retirement community or just moving in, click here for a sample monthly activity calendar.

*The following source provided references for this blog:
1. Mayo Clinic. “Depression and anxiety eases symptoms.” (2017), online: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495
2. American Medical Association. “Physical activity, including walking, and cognitive function in older women.” (2004), online: http://www.sld.cu/galerias/pdf/sitios/mednat/physical_activity,_including_walking,and_cognitive_function_in_older_women.pdf
3. Public Health Agency of Canada. “Late life transitions, mental wellness and the importance of maintaining social connections.” (2017), online: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/publications/healthy-living/older-adults-life-changes-social-connections/older-adults-life-changes-social-connections.pdf
4. University of Manitoba. “Social participation and its benefits.” (2013), online: https://www.gov.mb.ca/seniors/publications/docs/senior_centre_report.pdf
5. Harvard Health Publishing. “Mindfulness meditation helps fight insomnia, improves sleep.” (2015), online: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-helps-fight-insomnia-improves-sleep-201502187726
6. North Carolina State University. “Sleep, mood affect how ‘in control’ older adults feel.” (2019), online: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190129124919.htm
7. North Carolina State University. “Good attitudes about aging help seniors handle stress.” (2016), online: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160803084145.htm
8. Bagan, Barbara. “Aging: What’s art got to do with it?” (2019), online: http://www.todaysgeriatricmedicine.com/news/ex_082809_03.shtml
9. Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences. “Evidence mounting that older adults who volunteer are happier, healthier.” (2014), online: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140829135448.htm