Back in the day when I used to attend group therapy for my anxiety, I got a chance to listen to older adults sharing their thoughts, experiences and struggles when it came down to mental health. Many of those struggles were connected to anxiety people experience as they age. That fear and uncertainty, worrying about family members are probably inevitable part of ageing, but honestly after a while I stopped attending the sessions having realized that they only brought me closer to my own fears and elevated my anxiety.
I think the problem here, besides normal yet quite painful emotions, is our negative perception of ageing. Stigmatizing the process of ageing has become a norm in our society. Age is something we tend to be ashamed of, as well as something we consciously or subconsciously try to fight. But I think instead of creating panic around the natural and completely normal process we should put more effort into creating comfortable conditions for people to welcome any changes in their lives, whether they come with age or anything else.
That is when mindfulness comes into play.
What is mindfulness
Mindfulness is moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment, accompanied by focus and calm. This awareness should exclude judgement that usually comes in when we experience something, as it often leads to the inner conflict: when we think we don't like or don't want something, but we can do nothing about it.
Mindful ageing is a coping mechanism for dealing with struggles and changes. It is about acceptance of the positive and negative aspects of getting older.
What are the benefits
Benefits of mindfulness among those aged 65+, according to research:
- Improved sleep quality
- Improved memory retention
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Improved coping with chronic illnesses
- Lower risk for depression.
How to practice mindfulness
As any other healthy habit mindfulness requires patience and consistency. Here are some basic recommendations to start practicing mindfulness today.
- Meditate at least 10 minutes a day
- Learn to accept the realities of aging
- Work on letting go of things that upset you
- Try to eliminate phrases like "I am too old to...".
More information on mindful ageing and its benefits is presented on the infographic, kindly provided by Be Independent Home Care.
Last but not least, it is never too early or too late to start practicing mindfulness. The earlier we start the more chances are we will be able to benefit from our ability to stay in control of our minds aka our lives.