Get Enough Sleep
We’ve all experienced episodes of insomnia. It used to be the norm for me. That is until I removed the TV from the bedroom. Once I did that I found that getting to sleep and staying asleep were the norm, not the exception.
I read paper-bound books before turning out the lights. I find it’s a great way to relax and passively study the writing of my favorite authors.
I try (yes, sometimes I fail) to avoid any screen-time near bedtime. I’ve also learned to use the blue light filters and dark-mode now available on many devices and apps. They really do seem to help.
If you still have trouble getting a solid 7-to-9 hours of sleep per night, find help. From personal experience, I can tell you that drugs are probably not your answer and that includes the so-called “PM” sleep preparations. You don’t want to become dependent on swallowing something to get shut-eye.
Get Some Exercise
Ugh! Yeah, me too.
I do my best to get 5-to-7 thousand steps each day. I also have a free-weight routine 6 days per week. I keep the weights lighter and increased the reps over time, giving me a slightly more aerobic experience, in my opinion.
I personally try to follow a modified Meditteranean diet. That makes me an almost vegetarian. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, good fats, and olive oil.
Don’t panic. Notice I said “modified.” I include a lot of protein from lean meats and fish. As we age, muscle loss (sarcopenia) can take a serious toll leading to balance issues and dangerous falls. Consuming enough protein helps to maintain muscle mass.
If you can’t seem to control your weight, get help.
Take Appropriate Supplements
I do personally believe that a daily multi-vitamin is some damn cheap insurance against any gaps in my nutrition intake.
My doctor says it’s expensive urine. Different strokes…
You MUST stay engaged with the world around you. By all means, be safe about it, but you really need to stay in touch with your family and friends. And I do NOT mean through social media unless they’re miles away from you.
Loneliness is an epidemic in the U.S. — don’t let it ruin your life.
And remember, there is a distinct difference between being alone and being lonely. I live alone and love it most of the time. I’m rarely lonely and when I am lonely, I pick up the phone and dial. (Is dial still what we call that?)
If you’ve tried to quit smoking and cannot seem to get there, get help.
Your best friend should not be an oxygen tank.
Don’t feel alone or like you’ve failed if you have yet to succeed. It took me six tries before I succeeded. And yes, there are still times when I feel like I’d kill for a cigarette.
Yes, this includes vaping. And yes, this includes weed.
Unless you are using the weed for legitimate medicinal purposes (you know who you are) please give it up.
This is not a sexist comment, so please don’t be offended.
My point is that if you want to and your partner wants to, then just DO IT.
There is no reason why many/most of us cannot continue to have intimate relations with those with whom we have a mutual attraction.
Okay, I tried to make that sound really PC. Close your eyes for a couple of seconds and imagine how I might’ve said it in a bar after a few drinks.
In other words, “‘Tis Better To Wear Out Than To Rust,” another personal motto.
And remember, it doesn’t have to be sex. Going for a walk and holding hands or snuggling under the comforter on a cold night can be soul-satisfying.
This is a really tough one.
Reading, writing, Soduku, chess, checkers, cards, video games, sports, volunteering, crafts, travel, public service, gardening, part-time work — this list goes on and on.
Find a few things about which you are passionate and just DO IT.
Make a list and post it on the icebox (the refrigerator?) with one of those cutesy magnets that you’ve collected over the years. Refer to it often. Update it as you see fit.
I spend a lot of time working with theatre arts students at our local high school. This keeps me on my toes mentally and socially. It also allows me to maintain my own acting chops for my next audition.
See Your Doctor and Your Dentist
I won’t dwell on the reasons why that is true, and yes, I’ll agree there are exceptions.
Not all doctors and dentists provide the high-quality standard of care they should.
If they don’t fill the bill, dump them and find a provider that cares about you and treats you like an individual.
If you feel like you’re at the “Kentucky Fried Chicken of Medicine,” you’re probably in the wrong place.
Drive With Care
“I want to die in my sleep, just like Uncle Bill, not screaming like the other 3 people in the car did as it went off the road.”
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Hey Eric, I always drive with care!”
As we age, our reflexes tend to slow down and we become more easily distracted. Driving at night becomes a major challenge.
Some of us, maybe, shouldn’t even be driving anymore.
Take a senior driving refresher class, available through AARP.
Some insurance companies may even give you a discount for taking the course. It’s all done online, and pretty straightforward, but it helps to reinforce basic road rules and to introduce some specific considerations for older drivers.
Maintain Your Sense of Humor and Relieve Stress
Without a sense of humor, life is kind of boring.
Don’t let stress own you.
If you recognize that you are too stressed and can’t seem to cope with it, get help. A good counselor will get you tuned up; your insurance might even cover it.
Seek out humorous stuff.
My favorite is a good comedy movie.
Some big cities have comedy clubs where for a fee you can see top-name comedians doing their thing, and they love an appreciative audience. Of course, if their schtick is not your thing, then don’t go.
Whatever floats your boat spiritually speaking should get regular attention from you.
It can be a family thing, a friend thing, a group thing or a solo thing.
Church, “outdoorsy nature stuff”, meditation, yoga — whatever it takes to get you into the mindset of deeply feeling yourself from the inside out.
I know that sounds awkward, but that’s how I experience it. The experience connects you to the universe and it heals you. Try it.
Find an activity or hobby or avocation that gets your creative juices flowing and keeps them flowing.
Writing, painting, crafting, woodworking, coding, acting, etc.
There’s some overlap here with “Stay Challenged” but I think the difference is that being creative is usually more of a mental thing before it’s a thing-thing.
Writing is very challenging for me. I consider it to be an avocation.
Woodworking, on the other hand, is a creative hobby. I think about a lot of projects that I might want to create, but I have to admit most of them don’t get past that point.
This is the last thing on my list and is perhaps the most important.
As an emotion, love drives our world, hopefully displacing hate, resentment and all the other negative emotions.
They say, “love conquers all,” and I want to believe that.
I choose to believe that.