The mind-body connection branch of medicine deals with how negative thoughts and emotions can affect your physical and mental health. Doctors practicing mind-body medicine may prescribe holistic activities instead of medications to treat certain chronic health problems. These activities include yoga, relaxation/deep breathing techniques, visualization and especially, meditation.
Why Learning to Relax is Important to Your Health
A wealth of substantiated research shows that allowing stress and anxiety to overwhelm your life may cause chronic fatigue, general aches and pains, recurring illnesses and headaches/migraines. Insomnia, weight fluctuations, hypertension and gastrointestinal issues could be stress-related as well.
As we age, the mind-body connection is even more important to maintaining good health, since aging reduces the ability of the immune system to fight infection and disease. In fact, a senior’s state of mind can impact their physical health even more during this life stage. Consequently, finding ways to maintain an active, positive state of mind is vital to enjoying physical, emotional and mental well-being.
What Exactly is Meditation?
For many seniors, learning what meditation is not, makes it easier to understand what meditation is. For example, meditation is not about “emptying your mind”, sitting lotus-style (seriously, who can do that?) or chanting meaningless words. Instead, meditating is finding a quiet place to meditate and start the process of relaxing. By simply sitting for a few minutes and breathing slowly and deeply you have already started meditating. The next step is focusing your mind on one thing to begin calming your mind. You can focus on your breathing or an image you find particularly relaxing like: a placid lake at sunset or a campfire at night. Try to resist allowing random thoughts to enter your mind by concentrating on a single image or on your breathing.
Since meditation is a mental exercise that trains the mind to remain focused and aware of “drifting” into unwanted thought patterns, meditating regularly can actually improve a senior’s cognitive abilities involving concentration, memory and attention.
5 Ways Meditation Benefits Seniors
We now know through brain imaging technology that meditation actually changes brain wave patterns and improve physiological functions important to your health. By positively affecting a senior’s mind and body, meditation offers the following five wonderful health benefits:
Delays the onset of Alzheimer’s or other dementias
Increases energy and improves immune system functioning by reducing cortisol (the main stress hormone) levels in the bloodstream
Reduces and control blood pressure
Decreases muscle tension and aches often associated with feeling stressed and anxious
Reduces your risk of suffering stress-related diseases (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol)
Stimulate Your “Feel Good” Hormones by Meditating
Meditating is also conducive to improving mood. Depression is a common complaint of seniors due to many age-related changes in their lives. The death of a spouse, chronic health problems, financial difficulties and isolation are just a few causes of depression in seniors. Meditation provides a natural antidote for seniors feeling depressed.
In fact, meditating causes your brain to releases special hormones called endorphins that not only make you feel happier but also offer analgesic qualities to ease aches and pains. This positive feeling stays in your system for quite some time after meditating, which gives you a reprieve from feeling depressed and also helps reduce the intensity of depression if it returns.
We are Here to Help
Would you like to learn more about the benefits of meditation or have questions about health issues specific to seniors? Don’t hesitate to call us–we’re here to help you enjoy retirement living to the fullest. To speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable staff members, simply click here today.
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