“What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation.” – Glenn Close
Mental health impacts how we think, feel, and go about our everyday lives. Even so, it has often been overlooked when talking about overall health and wellbeing due to outdated stigmas and cultural attitudes. Thankfully, those stigmas are starting to lift due to many high-profile individuals like actress Glenn Close speaking openly and honestly about mental health.
Like any other aspect of life, our mental health needs change as we get older. However, while age brings experience and wisdom that can help build stress management skills, physical changes can impact our emotional wellbeing, such as chronic pain and other age-related physical health issues.
“At AROmotion, I primarily treat patients over the age of 55 with chronic joint pain,” says Dr. Robert Dean, founder of AROmotion. “While the primary goal of our treatment is to stop joint pain, I also focus on the mental health aspect of it.”
According to Dean, living with chronic joint pain is stressful, both physically and emotionally.
“When stress reactions are triggered, the body undergoes hormonal changes that can throw you off balance, shift your mood, disrupt your sleep, and eventually lead to anxiety or depression,” he says. “Once a patient reaches a state where pain has impacted mental health, stopping the pain isn’t enough. Once we turn off the pain, then the patient needs to nurture their mental health so they can get back to enjoying everyday life.”
Managing mental health may seem overwhelming, but Dr. Dean says a simple checklist is all we need to stay on track:
Eat a Balanced Diet. Whole foods like fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats aren’t just good for the waistline – they are also good to help balance our mood. While it’s OK to indulge every now and then, overeating processed or fried foods can cause fatigue and hurt stress and anxiety.
Get Moving. Don’t let chronic pain stop you from getting some movement every day. Low-impact workouts are great to stay on track, and this includes walking. If you are concerned about aggravating existing pain, talk with your doctor about the best workout plan for you.
Enjoy the Outdoors. Exposure to fresh air and natural light can be an instant mood booster! And studies show that exposure to natural light during the day helps us sleep better at night.
Prioritize Sleep. Don’t believe the myth that we need less sleep as we age! Older adults still need 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night. If you regularly have trouble falling asleep, try creating a new relaxing bedtime ritual like a hot bath, and be sure to stick to a regular bedtime schedule. If chronic pain is keeping you up, talk with your doctor about your options.
Stay Connected. Spending time with friends and loved ones is an essential part of our mental health. This can help prevent feelings of isolation related to chronic pain and aging while also giving you an outlet to share your thoughts and feelings with those you trust.
Practice Gratitude. When you start to feel, stress coming on related to your pain or getting older, pause and focus on all the good things in your life. This will give you a sense of purpose and reason to take the necessary steps to manage your pain.
“Aging is a gift that should be cherished,” says Dean. “Yes, it comes with aches, pains, and other health changes, but each day we wake up is a new opportunity to enjoy ourselves and our loved ones. That’s why making our mental health a top priority is so important as we get older.”
If you are living with chronic knee, hip, or shoulder pain that’s preventing you from daily tasks and activities, you can complete the form below to request your free consultation with Dr. Dean to see if you are a candidate for AROmotion, which has helped more than 2,000 patients stop their joint pain fast without surgery.