How many times have you woken up in the morning with absolutely no desire to get out of bed? Do you find yourself in a cranky mood or unmotivated to complete daily tasks when you wake up? If you answered ‘yes’ to either question, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Unfortunately, many seniors find that mood swings and feelings of loneliness or isolation become more prevalent later in their lives.
Studies show that despite the lower prevalence of mood disorders in the elderly as opposed to young adults, late-life depression and bipolar disorder (BD) are more likely to cause negative effects, including cognitive deficits, increased suicide risk, and overall mortality. Seniors, just like everyone else, need to engage in fun, mood-boosting activities to relieve stress and promote good physical and mental health. If you or an elderly loved one can’t seem to shake the morning blues, try these five tips to boost your mood:
1. Get Enough Sleep
Research has shown that even partial sleep deprivation can have a significant adverse effect on mood. For example, in a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers found that subjects who had only 4.5 hours of sleep each night for one week reported feeling more stressed, sad, angry, and mentally exhausted. In addition, after returning to their regular sleep schedules, participants reported a drastic improvement in mood.
Lack of sleep also makes waking up more difficult and may result in decreased focus, agitation, and stress. Therefore, seniors should aim to get at least seven hours of sleep every night for optimal cognitive functioning and overall health.
2. Morning Exercise
Even a small workout in the morning can make you feel more awake and release powerful mood-boosting endorphins. A brisk walk or jumping jacks are classic options, while swimming is another low-impact workout perfect for seniors, especially those with joint pain. If you cannot do more intensive exercises, low-impact activities, such as yoga and stretching, are also great alternatives. Stretching can help increase flexibility, while yoga provides mood-boosting benefits and reduces the risk of dementia.
If you’d like to incorporate exercise into your morning, the most important thing is that you get your body moving. You can customize workouts to fit your personal needs, but don’t focus on following a strict routine. Seniors should also talk to their doctor before engaging in any new fitness regimen.
3. Listen to Music
Many studies show that music can promote relaxation, lower stress, and improve productivity. Listening to your favorite music while you get ready in the morning, or even during your morning commute, can make you feel happier and ready to tackle the day ahead. For seniors, the benefits of listening to music extend to their physical and mental health as well, often stimulating the brain and improving memory in patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
4. Eat a Fulfilling Breakfast
Breakfast is often called the most important meal of the day – and for good reason. Eating in the morning gives you the energy you need to go on with the rest of the day. Because of this, it’s essential to make sure your breakfast is both healthy and filling.
Eating a good breakfast is recommended at any age, but it becomes even more essential as we get older. Still, healthy eating doesn’t have to mean excessive dieting and sacrifice. Instead, you should eat foods that are fresh, tasty, and make you feel good. The best breakfast options are foods rich in fiber, nutrients, and good fats. Oatmeal is a popular choice high in soluble fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the blood. Citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, whole grains, and nuts are also perfect for boosting your mood and fueling your body in the morning.
5. Plan Your Day
Planning your day can reduce stress, improve sleep, and help reduce feelings of anxiety. Structured and pleasant activities allow you to spend less time worrying about what to do and more time completing tasks that provide meaning and enjoyment.
For example, you may plan your day to include an 8am wake-up time, nutritious breakfast, moderate exercise, and a brief chat with a friend. Regardless of the schedule you create, the primary goal is to establish more structure and predictability. Focus on incorporating the activities that make you happy for more noticeable mood-boosting effects.
Still Feeling Down? Set Up an Appointment with an Emerest Connect Social Worker
These tips are helpful for mild to moderate mood swings, but if you’re suffering from a more severe mood disorder, we recommend setting up an appointment with one of our Emerest Connect social workers. Contact us today to learn more about our mental health services specifically designed for seniors.