Stepping Into A Mindful New Year

The new year can be a busy time for all of us, especially when it comes to finding a healthy balance between time spent on family, friends, food, fitness and finances. It is also a time for reflection on the year that has been, to inspire a positive change in lifestyle and to set intentions for the year ahead.

Our minds are powerful, and our mental state can cause our bodies stress. However, recent studies have shown that focussing more on the present moment, a process known as ‘mindfulness’, can benefit our general well-being.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness. It can be understood as ‘paying attention to the present moment’, not dwelling on the past or thinking about what may come up in the future. Mindfulness is about being aware of what is happening at present on a moment by moment basis, while not making judgements about whether we like or dislike what we experience.

Why should we practise mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a process that has been adapted from Buddhist meditation and further developed by mental health professionals. Research has proven the benefits for those who practise mindfulness, particularly when treating mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Practising mindfulness has the ability to:

  • Achieve slower, more clear thought processes
  • Improve self-awareness (mind, body and environment)
  • Improve sleep and relaxation
  • Improve focus and concentration
  • Regulate mood
  • Reduce stress

Why is mindfulness important for the elderly?

Older people are faced with a number of mental and physical challenges that are less common in younger people. Chronic health conditions, a loss of self-determination, social isolation, and becoming ‘out of touch’ can take much of the joy out of life. Mindfulness meditation training is a promising intervention approach that can help with cognitive decline, mitigate unhappiness and to help adopt a better quality of life. Helping cultivate habits of mindfulness in our older loved ones can be an important and effective tool for enabling their physical and mental well-being.

How do we cultivate mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be performed by anyone, anywhere and at anytime. Simply being aware of the concept can help us to be more mindful. Here are a few steps to help you or your loved ones adopt mindfulness into everyday life, especially during this busy time of year:

Breathing – Try to practice three minutes of focussed, deep breathing per day, paying attention to each breath, in and out. As external thoughts begin to enter the mind, try to return focus back to the breath. By focusing on your breath, you are no longer concentrating on unwanted thoughts. This concentration technique can be introduced to everyday tasks such as eating and other sensory stimulators.

Moving – Combining deep breathing with the physical act of stretch and movement can relieve muscle tension and boost circulation. Yoga and Tai Chi have proven physical and mental health benefits and are suitable for all ages and abilities. Modified programs like chair yoga are increasing in popularity for people with limited mobility.

Learning – We can feel energised and stimulated when faced with the challenge of learning a new skill. By focusing on one thing at a particular time, we can achieve a sense of mindfulness. A new skill can range from learning a new language, to changing the way we do something habitually, like brushing our teeth with the opposite hand.

Implementing concentration and focus on any given aspect of life has the power to create moments of joy and alleviate feelings of fear, loneliness and stress.

At Twilight Aged Care, we are committed to focusing on wellness and enablement for all existing and future residents. If you’ve noticed a change in your loved one’s behaviour or attitude to life, it may be worthwhile introducing them to the concept of mindfulness. This practise can also be adopted and provide benefits for the entire family.

For more information around the holistic aged care experience that we offer at Twilight, please visit our homes page, or contact a member of staff.

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