A practical guide for daily mental health routines for over 50

If you are over 50 years old, it is important to consider what you are doing to maintain good mental and physical health. At this point in life, many people are comfortable in their careers or lifestyle, but that is not always the case. Occasionally, evaluating your level of happiness and finding ways to establish healthier daily habits can have a very positive effect on your life and the relationships you have with others.

While you may think that your schedule is so intense that taking time for anything else is practically impossible, it is likely that once you start establishing some habits and a daily or weekly routine, you can fit in time to take care of your mental health.

Here are a few daily and weekly habits that you should consider implementing in your lifestyle:

Fitness classes and exercise

Physical fitness and exercise are important to mental health, too, no matter what age a person may be. Adults can sometimes find it hard to find the time or motivation to get the exercise they need to help their minds and body feel good and stay healthy. Fitness classes are a great way to set up a structured routine. Getting a friend or loved one to sign up and attend can make some people feel more comfortable and motivate them.

Adults over 50 may feel intimidated by fitness classes due to their age, abilities or body image. Finding classes that are designed for people in their age group may be helpful. After attending a few classes, a lot of people see that they are surrounded by plenty of people just like them.

Hiking or walking in parks and other greenspaces is another excellent way to relieve stress and get some needed exercise. You may want to just walk your dog, or you may choose to involve the whole family in walks or hikes. Grabbing a friend and meeting up for coffee and a walk is a great combination to consider.


Everyone needs something that they do for enjoyment. While some hobbies are very productive, there should not be any pressure to pick one that is for anything other than relaxation and having a moment to collect your thoughts and enjoy life.

For some people, reading a good book and having a glass of wine in the evening is a healthy outlet, while others may like to scrapbook, sew or do woodworking.

You do not have to feel that to have a hobby; you need to dedicate a huge amount of time to it daily. A hobby that takes 30 minutes of your time each day can have a big impact on your mental health and morale.

Healthy cooking and eating

There are a lot of ways to eat healthy, even if your schedule is busy. Finding ways to eat healthy on the budget you have available to work with is easier than ever, thanks to the multitude of healthy recipes available online, not to mention cookbooks designed for people with specific dietary or time constraints.

Planning meals in advance and doing a lot of prep at once can help those over 50 eat healthier during the work week. If there are children in the house, this can also save a lot of time and money.


Even if you live in town, there are ways to garden and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Gardening is known to be very relaxing and good for mental health. Growing just a few things like salad greens can also help you eat healthier and save a lot of money at the grocery store. Having beautiful plants around your home helps create an inviting and pleasing atmosphere that is good for everyone.

If vegetables are not your thing, then consider flowers or other pleasing to look at plants. There are so many options to choose from, so it may take some time to find what you like to grow, but it is well worth the journey of discovery.

Meditation and time for self-reflection

The benefits of daily meditation are well documented. While there are specific techniques and routines, it is important to just remember the basics of meditation and consider the benefits of creating your own routine for relaxation.

Finding a quiet and peaceful spot without a lot of distractions is the first step. This may vary from day to day, or you may find joy in having many different meditation spots depending on your mood, the weather and your location. Breathing exercises, clearing your mind, focusing on positive aspects of your life and listening to relaxing music can all be part of your meditative routine.

Some people find writing down their thoughts and feelings in a journal is a good way to self-reflect. Meditation and self-reflection for 20-30 minutes, even just a few times per week, are likely to make a big difference in mood and stress levels. Self-reflection and meditation can help people work through problems in their lives by taking a calmer and more relaxed approach.

Take time to foster meaningful and positive relationships

Consider the people in your life who mean the most to you and what you can do to spend quality time with them. Loving and supporting friends and family, in turn, means you have love and support. Daily routines such as making sure you ask how your spouse is doing, offering to help, having dinner together with everyone in your household or planning family outings on specific days are all great options.

Taking time to cultivate friendships and keep old ones thriving is also important. Weekly visits with friends may be as simple as a few cups of coffee and conversation, but it means a lot to everyone.

Time spent with your spouse is something that may get set aside as the obligations of adulthood progress, but it is never too late to start making an effort to have a night out once a week or time that is set aside just for the two of you to connect.

Learn how to set boundaries

Setting boundaries in your life can be difficult, but it is important for mental health and avoiding the stress and burnout that can occur in modern life. Separating your work and home life is necessary for some but not entirely realistic for everyone. For example, it is hard not to bring some work home if you have a family business or work at the same company as your spouse.

Having friends that you don’t work with is healthier for some people than having a social life that revolves around the workplace. Stress from work is easy to let seep into your home life. Finding ways that work for you to keep this stress from having a negative impact on your relationships is a good idea.

Setting boundaries can mean putting down your foot when others try to interfere in your work or home life. Who hasn’t been in the position of telling a relative no when they want to do something? Setting boundaries also helps individuals feel that they have some control over their lives and choices. As we age and have more people asking more of us, it can be easy to feel that we have lost control of even the most private areas of our lives.

Take time to prioritize and plan your days

It is easy to feel very overwhelmed when you start to think about what you need to take care of each day. Prioritizing the most urgent items can help you focus and create a schedule that eliminates some of the stress. This also helps eliminate the anxiety caused by procrastinating about tasks that need to be done but that you might not be looking forward to doing. Getting these types of tasks out of the way can reduce how long they present a problem for you and your mental health.

Some people may find that a written schedule is helpful, while others do better with an electronic calendar and reminders to keep them on task throughout the day.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

In the modern age, we are exposed to a lot of airbrushed and perfect-looking lives via television and social media. It is important to keep in mind that no one is perfect and that there are a lot of falsehoods in the images and lifestyles you see.

Real people make mistakes, don’t always look their best and are not always on top of every task they need to do. We do not always offer the healthiest emotional response to ourselves or others. These things are just part of life.

It is important to realize the difference between being human and ongoing problems and issues. In addition, time must be taken to understand feelings and thought processes and the influence they have on our daily mental state.

Establish healthy sleep habits

It can be challenging to sleep well, but there is a lot that can be done to change that. Establishing a good evening routine is a great start. For example, there are a lot of studies that show blue light from screens can have a negative impact on sleep. It can take longer to fall asleep, and you may experience more disruptions throughout the night. Turning away from smartphones, tablets and televisions an hour or more before you turn out the lights is a good idea. You might consider this time to use an e-reader like a Kindle or Kobo or reading a paper book or magazine. Writing down your thoughts in a journal or indulging in writing a story is yet another option.

Avoiding caffeine and sugar will help with sleep. Decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas can be soothing and relaxing closer to bedtime. While some people choose wine or other alcohol-based beverages, there is evidence that alcohol can harm sleep quality, especially right before bedtime. It is worth experimenting to see if reducing your alcohol intake helps with your sleep.

Drink enough water

While it seems like the advice about drinking water is endless, there is a good reason for that. With so many beverage options out there, it is easy to not drink enough water to feel well. Dehydration can lead to fatigue and lethargy.

Carrying a water bottle can help. For some, the water bottles that have a clicker mechanism that allows you to count how many bottles you have consumed so far in a day can help them keep track of total consumption and hit target goals.

It is important to remember that the mantra of drinking eight glasses of water at eight oz each is just a guideline. Your water needs vary by body size, activity level and temperature. Staying hydrated will make you more energetic and have positive effects on both your digestion and skin.

Spend some time in the sun

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a very real disorder that can have a huge impact on mental health. While this is typically associated with areas that have very short days and little sunlight during the winter months, SAD can affect someone no matter where they live. Seasonal mood disruptions can be treated effectively by either just taking the time to get outside whenever possible or using a special lamp inside that mimics the natural sunlight.

Using sunscreen when outdoors is recommended if you spend a lot of time outside or are particularly sensitive. Using a hat and other proper clothing can help with any sensitivities.

Fresh air is also beneficial to mental health and well-being, so being in the sun is even more of an elixir for good mental health and physical well-being.

Take charge of correcting negative behaviors and habits

Everyone has habits that they would benefit from changing. One thing that keeps people from making progress is that they try to make changes happen too quickly, and it leads to failure. It is critical to remember that small steps lead to big changes over time, and it is far better to make a positive change slowly than to never try at all.

If you indulge in unhealthy food, alcohol or other substances, then gradually change your habits. In some cases, you may need to get some extra help if your vice is particularly addictive. Taking charge of negative habits is empowering and will make your mental health better from the start.

When to get some help

There are times in anyone’s life when they may need more help with their mental health. There is a strong demand for mental health counselors to help people of all ages through the challenges that life can throw at them at different stages. Becoming a mental health counselor involves a few steps that ensure someone is qualified to offer good help and advice. Each state has its own set of rules that must be followed.

For instance, if you want to know how to become a licensed Mental Health Counselor in NY, the basic requirement is a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and 3,000 hours of clinical experience hours operating under the license of an experienced, licensed mental health counselor are two of the requirements. All counselors must be at least 21 and pass a state-authorized exam.

St. Bonaventure’s online degree program teaches multicultural counseling skills in a flexible format that allows you to maintain your current position. Classes are entirely online and prepare you for your exam, and internship placement services are provided to help you gain the hours you need to practice independently. If you are looking for a career that allows you to help people from many different backgrounds, then mental health counseling may be the career for you.

Daily healthy habits lead to lifelong positive mental health

Cultivating daily healthy habits can vastly improve mental health and physical well-being. Adults over 50 need to understand that it is never too late to make changes and take charge of their mental health and happiness.

Finding time to relax and self-reflect is necessary for positive mental health and being in a good mindset to take on work and family obligations.

Fostering good relationships takes time, and there are challenges along the way, but it is worth pursuing.