5 Things That Will Instantly Improve Your Retirement Living

5 Things That Will Instantly Improve Your Retirement Living

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Despite all of the wonderful freedom and creative fulfillment that retirement living offers, there are days when everything feels like the same old same old. Perhaps you didn’t sleep well, or family concerns are weighing you down. When your attitude needs a quick adjustment, here are five pick-me-ups that can improve your outlook in a hurry. They are 100 percent free, immediately available, and very therapeutic.

1. Getting Plenty of Exercise

Those amazing brain chemicals called endorphins start exerting their mood lifting properties minutes after you get active. Serotonin starts flowing too, and before you can say “down in the dumps,” your stress, anxiety, and depression levels are lowering. Another perk? A considerable brain boost. Research shows that creative thinking goes into high gear for hours after physical activity.

You don’t have to run like the wind. Strength training, yoga, Latin dance lessons, golf, and swimming are all great options to get you moving. Aim for 30 minutes at a pace that’s comfortable, but even a 15-minute session can help.

2. Having a Good Laugh

Next to exercise, laughter is one of the quickest ways to supercharge an endorphin release. Even just knowing that you are going to laugh while watching your favorite comic or reading your daily political cartoon increases endorphins. Laughter also increases your intake of oxygen-rich air and stimulates your lungs, heart, and muscles.

Did you know that Cancer Treatment Centers of America offers humor therapy sessions for patients and families called Laughter Club? The program uses laughter as a physical exercise tool for healing. Even fake laughing can stimulate circulation and help relax you. Long-term, laughter strengthens the immune system, relieves pain, helps you meet challenges more confidently, and can even connect you with other people.

3. Accomplishing a Task

Studies show that even a task as simple as making your bed or unloading the dishwasher can improve symptoms of depression. We achieve a sense of control that feeds into the next small task to create a chain of productive achievements that make us feel more confident and capable.

Dopamine, another feel-good brain chemical, inspires us to take action toward our goals and desires, and when we achieve them, we get a surge of reinforcing accomplishment. If you can break your retirement lifestyle goals down into small steps, you (and your brain) will celebrate many small victories in a dopamine-filled day that lifts you out of your inertia.

4. Taking a Walk Outside

Do you have an overactive subgenual prefrontal cortex? If you’re a worrier, you probably do! The subgenual prefrontal cortex is the region in the brain associated with rumination, aka worry. When we brood, scientists observe increased activity in this area. But researchers also found that immediate improvements in mood and mental health occurred for people who took leisurely strolls alone in nature. There was less blood flow to the brain’s subgenual prefrontal cortex — the area was quieter — and volunteers were not dwelling on the problems in their lives as much as they had been before the walk.

Spending time in natural environments, even just a walk through your nearest park or greenbelt, is an almost instantaneous way to improve your mood and stop mentally gnawing on the negatives.

5. Getting Your Hands Dirty

Growing plants and flowers is another wonderful way to trigger serotonin and dopamine and reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Gardening allows us to be nurturers, which can be especially therapeutic for seniors who do not have partners, family, or pets. Because it is also an accomplishment-oriented activity, gardening offers a satisfying way to feel in control when you’re overwhelmed.

While you’re creating beauty on your patio, balcony, or inside with houseplants or orchids, you are fully in the moment, reveling in your retirement living and not worrying about challenges.

Planning Ahead Guide

Bryan Reynolds
January 16, 2016
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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