Issues regarding self-esteem are commonly associated with our teenage years, but as it turns out, how we feel about ourselves is closely relate to our health throughout our later years.
A study from Concordia University indicates that high self-esteem can help prevent health problems later in life. They also found that lower self-esteem led to higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that has been shown to have long lasting impacts on the brain when levels are consistently too high.
Maintaining a positive feeling of self-worth may be the key. Another study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that human beings’ self-esteem generally decreases from childhood to adolescence, but then increases throughout adulthood. Middle age people enjoy the highest levels of self-esteem as it is typically a period of life associated with stable employment, a rich family life and a feeling of control over their lives.
There are no shortage of factors that can influence self-esteem, but while gender, race, employment status and education can all influence self-image, nothing compares with income and health when it comes to driving factors.
As we age, declining income and increases in health concerns have a big impact on how we see our lives playing out. It’s an adaptive period in which self-esteem is a key element in life satisfaction, and mental and physical health.
Self-Esteem and the Brain
Thoughts have the power to produce chemicals that impact how we feel and how our brains function. High self-esteem is associated with positive thoughts which lower cortisol levels and increase serotonin. An ideal level of serotonin is characterized by faster brain processing speed, increased attention span and cognitive ability such as creative thinking.
Positive thoughts are associated with increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, including activations of circuits associated with pleasure. This leads us to feel good, which also makes us more attractive to other people. The feeling is contagious so to speak, and the result is that it can help us create new relationships and perform activities that help us maintain our self-esteem.
Maintaining Senior Self Esteem
There are activities that go beyond the typical aspects of senior life you might adopt when developing a healthier lifestyle. To help you better understand, we’ve outlined a few principles to live by that any senior can appreciate.
It may seem obvious, but keeping up physical appearances has a big impact on self-esteem. Whether you’re going to leave the house or not, it’s best to get ready as if you were rather than sitting around in a bathrobe all day. Sometimes, just the act of being prepared for company or making yourself presentable will go a long way toward making you feel good about yourself.
A Healthy Social Life
Those with healthy relationships that can also serve as a support structure have something to lean on when they’re feeling down. As a result, these people tend to have better self esteem than those who lack it. So whether it’s friends from a yoga class or just your neighbors, make sure you maintain regular contact with other people your age who you can relate to.
The Power of Volunteering
Doing activities within the community can help you set goals, provide more social opportunities and instill a healthy sense of purpose that will ultimately help you feel better about how you spend your later years.
Be a Mentor
This is an opportunity for seniors to impart some wisdom on younger generations that may be struggling with things that their elders have dealt with in the past. Sharing your insights can make you feel helpful and boost your confidence.
Maintain Your Hobbies
Whether it’s golf, crafts, completing puzzles or keeping up with a book club, hobbies are an important of our identity and social life. Therefore, hobbies can play an important role in maintaining self esteem and while they may change as you age, they are not something to give up on.