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Lisa Bahar, MA, LMFT, LPCC | Article

Keeping Your Aging Mind Healthy During National Women's Health Week

5/13/2013
Keeping Your Aging Mind Healthy During National Women’s Health Week
By Rheyanne Weaver

National Women’s Health Week is coming up May 12-18, 2013 and it’s an important reminder for women to take their mental and physical health seriously, not just for this one week, but for an entire lifetime.

The official National Women’s Health Week website lists the top five steps women can take to stay physically and mentally healthy throughout their lifetime:

1) “Visit a health care professional to receive regular checkups and preventative screenings.”

2) “Get active.”

3) “Eat healthy.”

4) “Pay attention to mental health, including getting enough sleep and managing stress.”

5) “Avoid unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking, not wearing a seatbelt or bicycle helmet, and texting while driving.”

There are also many tips from experts to help women age gracefully and stay mentally healthy throughout all future health weeks to come.

Lisa Bahar, a marriage and family therapist, contributed to a chapter of the eBook “50 Years Young – Women’s Health, Fitness and Life Guide,” which includes her “10 tips to achieve balance and health at age 50 and beyond.” Here are a few of her tips that can help you stay mentally healthy for a lifetime.

1) “Live in the Moment. I work with clients teaching what we call Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills, which includes Core Mindfulness skills. The goal of Core Mindfulness skills is to learn how to be in the moment and allow yourself to be fully present to what is.”

2) “Have a sense of humor … Being able to laugh at how ridiculous this life party is, can be of great help, particularly when you are distressed and it feels like things are pretty bad. There is something very healing about seeing things from a humorous perspective, looking at life as though it is a tapestry of coincidences and knowing ultimately, how you experience it, or perceive it, is up to you.”

3) “Practice Radical Acceptance. Learn how to accept change, which is bound to occur. It is hard to believe, but nothing stays the same, you can count on that. The key is to learn how to accept that, even if you don’t agree that something changing is for the good.”

Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist, said in an email that there are several ways women can maintain good mental health during the aging process:

1) “Stay active and get sleep. Sleep and exercise are two of our best mental wellness tools, and can be VERY important complements to treatment of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety and many others.”

2) “Stay connected. We are social creatures, and the quest for meaning and purpose are at the core of a healthy sense of well-being. Be with other people (real people, not just social media). Take classes, be active in your community, spend time with family, volunteer. The more activities and people in your life that bring it meaning and purpose, the more you achieve a sense of well being and resilience.”

3) “Clean house … We spend far more time on our broken and toxic relationships than we do on those that are healthy. Switch that around. Invest in the relationships that make you grow, and be strong enough to step back from those that harm.”

4) “Learn to say no. Women are givers, and can sometimes give themselves to death. There are respectful ways of saying no - learn it and live it. Otherwise you may sell your mental health down the river trying to please others.”

Jill Nussinow, a registered dietitian, recommends eating unprocessed, whole foods in order to promote good mental health throughout life. Healthy foods include “greens” like kale, collards, turnips and arugula, as well as vegetables like broccoli, squash and green beans. She also suggested in an email that whole grains like quinoa and buckwheat can assist in good mental hygiene.

“The act of cooking not only provides nourishment but is a great way to care for yourself by providing a creative outlet,” Nussinow said.

There are plenty more tips to help you stay mentally healthy for the rest of your life. What are some of your tips for women to help their minds age gracefully and positively?

Sources:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office on Women’s Health. National Women’s Health Week. Web. May 8, 2013.
http://womenshealth.gov/nwhw

Bahar, Lisa.

10 Tips to Achieve Balance & Health at Age 50 & Beyond. (Chapter 3 in the eBook 50 Years Young – Women’s Health, Fitness and Life Guide, by Andy Charalambous).

Durvasula, Ramani. Email interview. May 7, 2013.