According to a study reported by BBC, people between the ages of 65-79 are the happiest.
Let’s dissect happiness a bit more, and break it down into categories of money, looks, and life overall.
Another study found that:
- Financially – people are the least happy between ages 45-54, and the happiest after 55
- Physical appearance – people are the least happy from 55-59, and the happiest in senior years after age 70
- Life overall – people peak at ages 23 and 69, and are the least happy in their mid-50s
This makes sense, considering your so-called retirement years are your years to live life on your terms.
Of course, that’s not always the case, especially when our culture pushes you to believe that it’s normal to see retirement as a lifestyle of leisure. And that it’s normal to become less active and settle for stagnancy.
Which is why we’ve put together a few tips to help you maintain and lift your happiness level during your senior years.
Beyond our 19 tips for an amazing life after retirement, consider these tips today.
5 Ways to Boost Happiness in Senior Years
#1. Smile and laugh a lot
Whenever you smile, you are also attracting positive energy around you, which is a great reason to make it a habit.
Smile to anyone and everyone, whether it’s someone close who comes to check on you or a stranger at the grocery store. According to a Swedish study, smiling is contagious, so it’s a great way to spread positive energy.
Take it a step further and use laughter as your best medicine. Whether it’s with friends, family members, or complete strangers, injecting more humor into your daily life comes with many health benefits, including:
- Reducing stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and calories
- Increasing brain function and memory, endorphins, connection, antibodies, and creativity
- Improving circulation, immune system, coping skills, inflammation, and cholesterol levels
So, happiness starts with your choice to smile and laugh, even when life is not perfect.
#2. Go outside daily
People need to see the sun every day.
A Healthline article warns us that decreased sun exposure is associated with decreased serotonin levels, which can lead to major depression (with a seasonal pattern).
Plus, when you hit the outdoors, you not only get vitamin D, but it’s also a great reminder of the natural beauty in your surroundings.
Which does wonders for your health, too. In fact, researchers found that heading outdoors and being in nature decreases stress, and makes you happier and less brooding.
Consider making some of these ideas a part of your daily routine:
- After eating breakfast, consider a brisk walk at a nearby park.
- If you have a garden, try spending more moments with your plants as much as the weather permits.
- Or, simply step outside, look around you, and appreciate nature.
Regardless of how you do it, heading outdoors, connecting with nature, and exposing yourself to more sunlight can vastly improve your happiness level and mental health.
#3. Stay on top of your physical health
It goes without saying that your health is very important. This factor is, of course, a huge determinant of your happiness.
When you’re physically healthy, you’re more likely to be emotionally healthy, too, as your body’s condition easily affects how you feel.
Some solid reminders on how to maintain your physical health are:
- Exercise and be physically active. To exercise at home, consider this home workout.
- Work with a dietitian or physician on sticking to a proper diet and avoiding bad foods.
- Discuss with your doctor and take the right supplements.
- Get enough sleep. (Having trouble catching your z’s? Read these sleep tips.)
- Go to your annual physical checkups and regular consultations.
While you could spend endless amounts of time improving your health, the point is to prioritize your physical health as a foundation for your happiness, especially during your senior years.
#4. Prioritize your relationships and social circles
While it may be more difficult to expand your social circle, especially if you’re no longer working, now is the perfect time to bond with friends (new and old) and family – even if it’s through Zoom video calls.
Especially among seniors, being social is good for your health.
Several studies tell us that maintaining strong social connections and keeping mentally active you age might lower the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.
And more social ties means better control over hypertension and a lower risk of heart problems.
On top of that, there are these health benefits from being social:
- 50% increased chance of longevity
- Lower anxiety and depression rates
- Higher self-esteem and empathy
All this to say, it’s worth putting yourself out there to meet and connect with people.
Once you do, you can build your relationships using small gestures.
Small gestures (rather than grand and show ones) are really what matter in a relationship. Small acts of kindness and love are enough.
Be inquisitive and spend extra time asking people questions. Ask people how their day is. Ask them how they feel. And listen.
Sadly, most people only remember about 17-25% of the things they listen to, so if you’re truly present and actively listen, you’re ahead of the game.
These are all small gestures but they matter in improving your relationships.
(By the way, if you or someone you know is struggling to be social, read these tips for fighting loneliness.)
And the people that help you also need to hear that you appreciate them. Say thank you. Add an extra smile.
Practicing gratitude daily also works wonders for your health, which brings us to our final tip.
#5. Express your gratitude through meditation, yoga, or prayer
There are several reasons why you need to practice gratitude daily, some of which are:
- It improves your well-being and physical health.
- It strengthens your relationships.
- It helps you sleep and exercise.
To boost your happiness during your senior years, it’s wise to dedicate time daily to practicing gratitude. We recommend expressing gratitude through meditation, yoga, and/or prayer.
As for meditation, researchers have proven that meditation offers several benefits to your well-being, like general wellness, improved energy, more memory and focus, and relief from anxiety, stress, and depression.
Yoga can improve your self-esteem and self-awareness. It can also help lower the levels of stress, depression and anxiety, and improve your tolerance to pain.
Among the several impressive yoga statistics, it’s no wonder that the number of people over 50 who practice yoga has tripled in four years, and that the number of yoga studios has grown to over 6,000 in the US alone.
And prayer is another recommended way to express your gratitude. Senior living for people of faith, for instance, recommends meditation or prayer for more happiness in senior years.
According to one study, prayer is a special form of meditation, so the health benefits associated with meditation carry over to prayer.
So, if you believe that there is a greater force above all of us, praying can be a powerful form of gratitude.
Regardless of your practice of choice, practicing gratitude through meditation, yoga, and prayer can be done daily. Just dedicate some time and space in your home to it, and make it a daily habit.
Whether after or before your morning coffee, or simply in a room of your house at some quiet point during the day, the benefits of meditating, yoga, and prayer will greatly contribute to your happiness level.
Here’s to more happiness in senior years
Now that you’re in your senior years, it’s time to capitalize on happiness.
Big or small, may you find all the happiness in your senior years that you can handle.
Which tip will you tackle first?
What’s a top priority in your life for boosting happiness in your senior years?
This article was co-authored by Holly, a pet lover who owns a dog and loves to write about everything related to pets. She is a frequent writer and contributor to top online pet publications and blogs, including Faith Based Assisted Living and Pet Friendly Senior Living.