We are living in uncertain times in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s causing difficulties with mental health.In the U.S., more people are dealing with episodes of anxiety and depression for longer periods of time. For the aging population, this is even more pronounced.
Roughly six million adults 65 and older deal with depression/anxiety, and this can be compounded by different disabilities and medical conditions.Part of the issue here is that many adults in this age bracket don’t fully understand anxiety as a medical condition, and with the increased risk for coronavirus complications, there’s more to be anxious about.
While we can’t predict what comes next, anxiety is a treatable condition. So, while complying withsocial distancing measures and staying safe, here are some ways to mitigate anxiety.
Use Social Media Wisely
Social media has been shown to reduce depression and anxiety, particularly in older adults that may be dealing with pain. Many older people enjoy connecting with old friends and family or even just looking through old photos of good times.
These provide a sense of relaxation and familiarity, which might be why seniors are the fastest-growing demographic for some social media platforms like Facebook.
However, you need to be smart about how you use social media. Naturally, there’s going to be a lot of pandemic discussion and news on social media platforms. Depending on what’s going on, this may end up making your anxiety worse, not better.
However, most platforms have some type of means for you to adjust your feed to block out offending content. Be sure to try and keep your social circle small on these platforms to avoid information overload as well.
Get More Exercise
When it comes to methods to lower anxiety and depression, exercise is consistently one of the top options. Not only do you help your bodily health, but your mental health as well. This can range from better flexibility and strength to higher-quality sleep and improved mood.
Granted, coronavirus measures can make it difficult to do some fitness activities you may enjoy, like taking classes with other people, going to the gym, or even walking in a busy park. This doesn’t mean you have to put your exercise on hold, though. There are many different online platforms and YouTube channels with exercise routines for people of all ages.
Find Additional Purpose/Hobbies
For those that are no longer working or taking care of children, there can be a sudden lack of purpose or things to do. While downtime is nice, it can also leave plenty of time for feelings of anxiety to take hold.
To avoid this, you want to find hobbies that you can safely do indoors or in your yard. This ranges from painting to gardening to games and puzzles. The more time your brain is occupied on positive things, the harder it is to feel anxious.
Tell The Difference Between Worry, Anxiety, and Grief
An anxiety disorder shouldn’t be confused with general worry or grief, especially in the midst of all that’s going on. Medically defined, anxiety disorder is having feelings of excess worry or anxiety most days for six months. Obviously, you don’t have to wait six months to look into treatment, but you want to tell the difference between a normal reaction of concern and irrational anxiety.
Senior isolation is one of the great mental and physical health issues for this age group, and when isolation becomes a matter of public health, it can be even more difficult. Many seniors have to stay by themselves to minimize exposure and, without that added social interaction, the effects of anxiety can be heightened.
This makes it important to use technology to try and bridge that gap until things are safer. We mentioned social media earlier, but apps like Zoom or Facetime make it easier for seniors to contact their loved ones regularly and see their faces. Look into virtual social activities like movie watching sessions and virtual church services as well.
Left untreated, anxiety can be a devastating condition, and in the current environment, concern and worry are understandable. When it starts being a problem is when anxiety keeps you from doing even the most basic of daily tasks or interacting with your loved ones.
If you are concerned that this is happening to you, be sure to start looking at online resources for added support or reach out to a medical professional. There are now more telehealth/remote resources than ever for you to get the
help you need while sheltering in place.
Guest Post Submitted by: Casey Rydbick, a writer and manager for Senior Care Center