According to the Oxford dictionary, wellbeing is “a state of being comfortable, happy, and healthy”.
It’s as easy as that. But when it comes down to reality nothing is as easy as that… Or is it?
Feeling good, comfortable, and happy all seems easy enough. It’s all about finding something that motivates you and keeps you happy and healthy. As wellbeing is kind of a fleeting concept, it all boils down to you individually, to find out what exactly wellbeing is for you.
What can influence your state of wellbeing?
Of course, there are some basics that you need to take care of to stay healthy and happy. A balanced diet, sufficient sleep, a sense of belonging, a home, exercise, and a sense of purpose and meaning. All of these are basic conditions that can boost your sense of wellbeing. However, there are also other factors you should take into account.
“Wellbeing can be understood as how people feel and how they function, both on a personal and a social level, and how they evaluate their lives as a whole”
One of the most basic features there is to wellbeing, in seniors, is acceptance. To accept yourself and the life you’ve lead, so far, comes from the knowledge and acceptance of your good and bad sides. Once you have a positive attitude towards yourself, your mental state will improve and things become easier.
Another factor that can influence your state of wellbeing, is the different goals you’ve set for yourself. Once you have something you strive for, these will work as motivational to keep on going.
These goals, of course, are different from person to person. Some examples of this could be maybe you want to travel more, exercise, eat healthy and so on. The key is to figure it out and go for it.
Use mindfulness as a tool to achieve wellbeing
Another tool you can use to boost your sense of wellbeing is mindfulness. Essentially mindfulness is meditation. But it is also a complete state of relaxation and focus.
“Research has clearly shown that regular meditation comes with a wide range of physical, mental, and emotional health benefits for seniors”
The truth about mindfulness is that it comes with different benefits, other than making you feel at peace and happy. Down below we have compiled a list of some of these benefits.
1) Mindfulness can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other forms of dementia, are very progressive illnesses. A recent study has shown that a combination of meditation and breathing exercises can help slow down the development of dementia-related diseases. Other studies suggest that mindfulness meditation can help you cope better with the anxiety, stress, and depression that can often accompany memory loss.
2) It can enhance digestion
The digestive system can be affected by any number of factors. However, meditation has proven to have a healthy effect on the digestive system. It would seem that the deep breathing that occurs naturally during meditation improves circulation and increases oxygen levels in the blood. In practice, this means, that if you meditate on a regular basis you might feel relief from digestive issues that aren’t caused by other illnesses.
3) It will give you a sharp and focused mind
When it comes to mental wellbeing, mindfulness offers an ability to sharpen mental alertness and ward off decline. In fact, regular meditation causes the brain’s physical structure to change. In more scientific terms this means that the amygdala region, which is associated with processing negative emotions such as stress, worry, and anxiety, often shrinks. The areas responsible for self-awareness, personality development, and planning, such as the prefrontal cortex, will increase. Thus resulting in improved focus, creativity, and cognitive function
4) Managing moods and emotions
Sometimes it can be a quite difficult task to control one’s mood and emotions. As we all grow older, some physiological changes may impact mood stability too. This can make it even more difficult to control emotional reactions. And this is exactly where meditation focuses on a non-judgmental presence, and on observe emotions without being compelled to react to them. It has also been proven that meditation enhances positive emotions of well-being and empathy for anybody practicing, young and old alike.
5) Improving memory
Meditation stimulated the memory centers within the brain.
“Preliminary evidence indicates that mindfulness helps maintain both long- and short-term memory functions”
6) It promotes relaxation and calmness
Everybody needs to take a breather and relax sometimes. Set aside time to simply smell the roses, take a walk or connect with loved ones. It can do wonders for everyone.
Mindfulness for seniors has a calming effect that can’t be achieved by anything else. It can help you relax, organize thoughts more efficiently, and maintain a clear perspective.
If you take about 20 minutes every day to sit still and meditate, you will see the results and reap the benefits in no time. You will also be more likely to become happier and more mentally alert.
7 steps on how to meditate using mindfulness
There are a lot of different ways to meditate. In this particular instance, we have focused the kind of meditation that focuses on your breathing.
- The first step is to find a comfortable place to sit. Make sure your body feels relaxed and comfortable.
- Then you should straighten your upper body without it being to stiff.
- Notice your arms. Make sure they are parallel to your upper body. Rest the palms of your hands on your legs or wherever it feels most natural.
- Soften your gaze, and let your eyes be without focus. You can also choose to close your eyes. Do whatever feels more natural to you.
- Feel your breath. Focus on the physical sensation of breathing: the air moving through your nose or mouth, the rising and falling of your belly, or chest. You can also opt to count to 5 while taking air in and count to 5 while blowing out again.
- Limit your mind from wondering. Inevitably, your attention will leave your focus on breathing. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or eliminate thinking. When you notice your mind wandering gently return your attention to the breath.
- When you are ready gently lift your gaze, or open your eyes, and take a moment to notice any sounds in your environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
Remember new things take practice before you can master them. The key is to not give up! Give yourself the time you need to relax and breath.
How to stay well in your senior years
The state of well-being can be a fleeting concept. If you don’t continuously work on it you will most likely experience fluctuations in your state of feeling good and well.
Another aspect to wellbeing, something we have briefly touched upon before, is mental health. Not only is wellbeing about taking care of different physical factors but it is also a mental state. It is something you should constantly work on achieving.
Mental wellbeing describes your mental state– how you are feeling and how well you can cope with day-to-day life. Your mental state is a dynamic process and something that changes from day to day. It is also individual how your mental health will affect your wellbeing. What affects someone’s mental wellbeing won’t necessarily affect others in the same way.
But we all have times when we have low mental wellbeing, where we feel stressed, upset or find it difficult to cope. Fortunately, there are different things you can do to boost your mental health, in ways that will also affect your wellbeing.
“Connecting with others, friends, family, communities and so on, can all help you feel a greater sense of belonging”
Talk about your emotions, talk about what’s happening in your life, and trusting the people around you will also have a lot of positive effects on your wellbeing.
Take time for yourself
Another key component is taking time to yourself. Spending that time on you is essential for your wellbeing. It can also help you to become more resilient towards different challenges that may arise.