Education and Advocacy What is Shatner’s biggest piece of advice for keeping good mental health at any age? “Stay healthy physically and keep active”
William Shatner has a hit TV show Better Late Than Never, a new book and tour later this year ,and he keeps busy with a variety of business and philanthropic ventures.
“I’m as busy as I’ve ever been and I’m keeping up with it,” Shatner says from Los Angeles. But he’s always conscious of the potential effects on his health.
“It’s expected that as you get older you’ll decline,” Shatner says. But he adds that it’s not necessary that mental health has to decline quite as sharply as physical health. “You can take of yourself,” he says.
What is Shatner’s biggest piece of advice for keeping good mental health at any age? “To stay healthy physically and to keep active,” he says. “Because your brain is affected by the rest of your body.”
One way Shatner likes to keep active is by bicycling with family members who live nearby. He says they use electric bicycles which require less pedalling power, adding that it would have been challenging for him to keep up otherwise.
“Although our brains don’t necessarily fail as we get older, our muscles get weaker and it would have been a challenge, actually an impossibility, to keep up with the younger members of my family bicycling,” he says.
Shatner says that creativity goes a long way in the pursuit of physical and mental health.
“By using just a little imagination, you can compensate for some of the things that are necessarily going to happen as you get older, and in such a manner that it doesn’t interfere with keeping up with everybody,” he says.
It’s also important to Shatner to spend time with others. “I know that good mental health comes from being busy and not solitary and brooding.”
Give something back
Shatner has a new book coming out mid-year called Live Long and... and he says the message is about the importance of keeping busy.
“Not just doing crossword puzzles,” he says. Shatner says challenging yourself is important and something he likes to do through charity work, choosing causes that are close to his heart. One, the Hollywood Charity Horse Show, has been a project of his for the past 30 years. Unlike some celebrities, Shatner doesn’t focus on one type of cause. It’s all about whichever ones resonate with him.
“Everybody, everything needs help,” Shatner says. “There are very few self-sufficient needs. And whether it’s salmon in British Columbia or the seals in the St. Lawrence or children who are affected by emotional, social, or physical disabilities or veterans coming back from the wars, everybody needs help so I do the best I can.”
He adds that getting involved in helping others through volunteering or advocacy work has a great effect on mental health. “There’s nothing better for your brain than trying to help someone else.”