And while I think it would be great if everyone around me would behave in the ways I think best, I also recognize that we're all fighting the good fight, doing the best we know how to experience less suffering and greater peace.
If, like me, you're stuck in the middle of a northern hemisphere winter, it can be difficult to find things to be cheerful about, can't it?
I live on a hill and, as I write this, the wind is howling round my house and the rain is lashing at the windows. The forecast for the week ahead is for more of the same. We have, at least, another month of winter ahead of us and, even though the mornings are a little lighter, it'll be weeks yet before we're not leaving the house in the dark every morning and returning in the dark in the evening.
When the weather's keeping us all tucked up in our homes, retirees can sometimes start to feel quite isolated. Which means that it's really important to take care of your emotional health - at least until spring comes around and starts to make us all feel better again!
Your emotional health is directly connected to your physical health. Stress weakens your immune system. It also causes inflammation which leads to deadly diseases like heart disease and diabetes. Depression impacts your immune system as well - as does anger, overwhelm, and frustration.
The good news, however, is that you can take steps to improve your emotional health and strengthen your physical health at the same time. Try some of these on for size...
1. Do Something Joyful – Take time every day to do something that makes you smile. Getting out in nature is good for both the mind and body so take advantage of any breaks in the weather. Visit with friends, go for a bike ride, dance, or grab the opportunity to get out for a walk. Try to find something to laugh at. Laughter has been shown to improve health and immunity.
2. Find a Purpose – You don’t need to make huge changes to your life to find your purpose. Helping others, spending time on activities that make you feel useful and relevant, and getting involved in your community all help a person feel important and help improve emotional health.
3. Good Self-Care – Good self-care means paying attention to your body. Know when your body is telling you that you need more sleep, need nutritional food, or need to take time away from whatever's stressing you out and unwind.
4. Exercise – Exercise provides just as many mental and emotional benefits as it does physical benefits. Find an exercise program that you enjoy. Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore but, rather, something fun that you’re doing for your mind and body. And, even if the weather's keeping you stuck indoors, there's still plenty you can do to keep exercising. (Check out sharecare.com (formerly Real Age) for ideas!)
5. Set Aside Downtime – Give yourself permission to sit and daydream, contemplate the world, journal, meditate or just explore your senses. Downtime is an important part of maintaining a healthy mind and body. It allows your brain to rejuvenate and it helps you find and maintain balance in your life.
Each one of these steps is important to lifelong health and wellbeing. They’ll help you feel more grounded, calm, and focused. Your emotional and mental health have a direct impact on your physical health - which is why it's especially important to pay attention to them at this time of year!
Did you know that recent studies have shown that almost half of all grandparents in the U.S. live more than 200 miles away from their grandkids? The world may seem smaller in a day and age of technology and instant messaging, but it can feel extremely big when you ache to see your kids and grandkids, and they're just too far away.
However, fortunately, technology presents quite a few options for keeping in touch with far-away grandkids. Here are eight things grandparents can do to connect with out-of-town grandchildren.
Skype can open up whole new worlds for grandparents. You don't have to have webcams for this, although, if you do, it opens up the possibility of video chat. All you need are two computers with high-speed Internet connections. In fact, you can even do Skype with some phones that have Internet access, too. Camera phones allow for video chat.
2. Google Hangouts
Google Hangouts is a lot like Skype. You can chat from your desktop or laptop computer, and it has video options - as long as you have the hardware. Also like Skype, you simply download Google Hangouts from the internet.
3. Social Networking
Facebook, Myspace, Pinterest, and other social networks provide a convenient platform for out-of-town grandparents to keep up with their grandkids. This approach may be particularly helpful with grandchildren of pre-teen or teen age.
4. Online Photo Albums
The Internet offers lots of options for storing your photos. Family members can then share the password to their photo album, and grandparents can log in any time to see the latest pictures of their grandkids.
5. Telephone Calls
The telephone may be considered old-fashioned in this day and age, but it's still a perfectly legitimate and, for many grandparents, comfortable means of communication. Try scheduling regular phone calls, maybe once a week, to keep in touch. Grandparents can read selections of stories over the phone to young grandchildren, and older grandkids can have special topics and subjects they talk about with grandparents. Many grandkids like to hear stories about when their parents were kids!
6. Tape Recorders
Another old-fashioned but fun approach is for grandparents to make tapes. Grandparents and parents each need a mini tape recorder, and grandparents and grandchildren can mail audio tapes back and forth and play them on the tape recorders. Usually, all you need is a padded envelope to mail such tapes. Agree to mail them at regular intervals.
7. Online Chat/Instant Messaging
Most email platforms offer instant messaging and chat. If yours doesn't, you can download specific chat software such as Google Chat. Again, all you need is a computer or modern cell phone with Internet access.
It's easy to forget one of the simplest types of technology for staying in touch. Email can accommodate pictures and videos that you can include with the message, too.
For many retired people who are looking for love, online dating makes sense - with today's busy schedules (even in retirement!) and widely varying lifestyles, finding someone to date 'in real life' (IRL) may not be feasible. The Internet offers the chance to meet people who might not otherwise cross your path - especially when you're no longer out at work every day and, consequently, may not be meeting that many new people.
But the world of online dating can seem intimidating, especially if you're new to it. Here are some tips for getting started with online dating.
It's Okay to Be Proactive
For some, being proactive about finding a partner may seem like a sign of weakness or simply 'not the way they were raised'. But relying on chance is getting less and less effective in an era where people seem to gather in front of their computers in the evenings more than they go out and about. These days, it's okay to be proactive about dating, whether you're male or female.
Choose Your Site
As you begin to look around for the right online dating site, check with your friends who are also looking for love online. They are excellent 'filters' who will tell you what the pros and cons of the various sites are. You can also do a search for reviews of the sites that interest you.
Some sites do more 'filtering' than others, so if you're very cautious, you might want to go with the sites that have many detailed questions as part of their joining process. If you're more relaxed and open, you might prefer a site that leans more towards letting the members sort things out themselves.
As you begin to fill in questions and talk about yourself, dating experts point out that it's good to avoid statements that are too general or cliched (such as "I enjoy spending time with family"). Remember that you are one of many thousands on the site, so make your profile specific and unique. Instead of the bit about spending time with family, mention how you love to spend time with your crazy niece (or whoever) and how that makes you feel.
Many people agonize over this one, and it's understandable; that's the first thing people see when they look at your profile or are matched with you. But your picture should, above all, be something that is typical of you. It's not a great idea to get dressed up in an outfit that has nothing to do with your personality type or interests, for example.
You can get away with a decent self-portrait, or have friends and/or family take your picture. It's also a good idea to have more than one picture on your profile, and to have a variety of pictures (some just your face, others full length, etc.). Above all, make sure the pictures are current - there's nothing more disappointing than meeting someone and realising that the photo they posted was 10 (or 20!) years out of date!
Even if you've heard of someone who met the love of his/her life within 24 hours of joining a dating website, such stories are the exception, not the rule. Experts point out that it can take many weeks to find someone you'd want to get to know better and you may need to take a break and re-join later. Just like IRL dating, you have to sift few quite a few potential matches before you find the right one!