We may try to avoid it, shut it out, ignore it, and minimize it, but we can’t escape this COVID-19 pandemic. We may not contract the disease, but reminders are all around us: masks, closures, constant updates, and isolation. Thinking “happy thoughts” about it won’t make it go away, but our thoughts (and attitudes) have a lot to do with how we cope with this new, unexpected life.
Here are some things to think about that may lift up and refresh your spirit during down times.
- Listen to music. Turning on the tunes has been shown to reduce feel-good chemicals in the brain, reducing stress and lifting your mood. It also helps improve cognition and boost memory. Sharing symphonies and syncopation also facilitates social bonding. Listening to music while performing an unpleasant task or sitting in a difficult environment seems to make time go faster. Just closed-eyes chilling with the Beatles or Beethoven makes time stand still. And you thought it just had a good beat and you could dance to it!
- Watch your weight. Don’t just watch it grow, but try to keep it under control. Weight gain and obesity have been known to speed up the aging process, making us more susceptible to age-related diseases, including memory problems. Looking and functioning better can help us feel better as well.
- Accept and welcome the aging process, but not ageism. Ageism tells us we have little purpose in life and little to give. We can no longer climb mountains, so why bother crawling? Our familiar relationships are fading, so why try to replace them with new ones? These are unwise notions. Sure, things are changing, but you can direct some changes yourself. If you can move, go visit someone. If your ears work, go listen to someone. If your lips work, smile at someone new. Don’t let loneliness turn out your lights — let them shine on someone else!
- Play games. Not mind games, but card games and board games that stimulate the mind and pass the time. Participating in games can keep the mind sharp and decrease the rate of cognitive decline. These benefits mirror other preventative techniques, such as abstaining from excessive alcohol and eating healthful foods. A friendly game of cards or Battleship or whatever is a good means of socialization as well.
- Exercise. If the Good Lord intended us to sit around all day, He wouldn’t have given us muscles. Any type of exercise, whatever you are able to endure, helps the body and brain stay healthy and wards off sickness and sadness.
Yes, these are challenging times, but at our age, we have no doubt endured difficult times before. We may be limited in many ways — socially, physically, financially, mentally — but we can try to keep our attitudes bright and not be controlled by fear. Wisdom sees the clouds ahead and buys an umbrella, but doesn’t open it until it rains!
South Mountain Memory Care focuses on high-quality, personalized care. The brand new building is a stand-alone memory care community, meaning that the entire building, staff, and programs are designed to serve residents with cognitive issues. To ensure person-centered care and attention, we have accommodations for up to 28 residents. The building is divided into two neighborhoods (wings), each offering 10 private suites and 2 semi-private suites. South Mountain Memory Care is located in the Allentown suburb of Emmaus, Pennsylvania, and it is easily accessible from the Lehigh Valley, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. For more information, go to southmountainmemorycare.com/.