By Sharon Oliver, Contributing Writer
REGION – Mindfulness. People are becoming more intentional, more mindful these days about what they eat, how they exercise, and other aspects of daily living. It is all for the purpose of focusing on their overall well-being and surroundings. So, how can one be mindful about aging and all that comes with it? Since aging is a process that cannot be stopped, many fear the possibilities of typical hindrances such arthritis and other physical changes in the body.
Accepting aging and its changes
Mindful aging does not mean denying getting older. Instead, it is a practice which quiets a fretful mind to focus on the actual benefits of aging. By the time most people reach their fifties, they think more about growing older and retiring. Changes in the body are noticeable, children are or are close to becoming young adults and out on their own. Some people begin to have anxiety about the future including dying alone. Other signs of worrying are feelings of loss of meaning or purpose and even a desire to keep up or compete with younger people.
As we age, there could be cognitive changes involving attention span, memory loss, and multi-tasking. Certain abilities can start a subtle decline once we reach our fifties or even forties. However, there is evidence to suggest mindfulness meditation can have a positive impact on attention, general cognition, and memory.
Aside from chronic health issues, physical changes like decreased muscle mass and loss of collagen occur as we age. Studies show that mindfulness can influence some physiological factors associated with aging. Benefits include decreased blood pressure, improved sleep, and a strengthened immune system.
There are benefits
Benefits of aging most often includes wisdom gained from life experiences, having time to pursue long-delayed interests, travel, and enjoying moments with loved ones. Goddard House, located in Brookline, is not only an assisted living facility but offers virtual mindful aging classes to help individuals cope with changes. Also, through their Creative Aging programs, Goddard House empowers older adults living in the community to remain vibrant and socially connected.
Candace Cramer, President and CEO of Goddard House, stated, “Arts are really transforming when you have a culminating event at the end of a program or workshop where people can really see what you have done.”
There are emotional benefits to mindful aging as well. Mindfulness meditation can help us to enjoy the moment, embrace ourselves and our emotional states thus developing a sense of gratitude. Growing older is inevitable, but the approach to how we grow older is a choice.
Mindful aging exercises
- Begin by motivating yourself, whether through journaling, reading daily devotions or gratitude quotes. Incorporating gratitude into a daily routine can have a positive effect on a person’s mental and physical and health.
- Join a community social group. Several offer an array of activities to include luncheons, fitness programs, language classes, art classes, various trips and so much more.
- Take time out of your day to smell the roses and soak in a little sunshine. Go on walk. Pay attention to the sights, sound and smells around you. Stop to appreciate the moment.
- Try something new.
- Surround yourself with like-minded people, those who are transitioning through similar stages of life.
The point is to be intentional about your focus when it comes to aging. With time, we are able to let go of things that don’t matter and hold on to what does. You’re not over the hill, just able to get a closer view of it and to quote the old adage, “you’re as young as you feel.” At the very least, you can feel as young as you allow yourself to mindfully age.