How Seniors and Caregivers Can Use Meditation and Yoga for Better Mental Health 

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The constant pressure of providing care and living with an illness or disability can be overwhelming for family caregivers and older adults. This is why daily self-care is important. Of the self-care practices that offer benefits, yoga and meditation often top the list. Here is how you can get started with a relaxation practice if you are a caregiver or a senior. 

Bring the Benefits of Practice to You 

If you want to get started with a soothing yoga and meditation practice but are worried about being able to leave your home every day, then you should bring the practice to you. You can easily incorporate a dedicated relaxation space into your home, and you really only need a small space to do so. Even a small corner can work as your very own practice area.

What’s more important than the size of your space is keeping this area free of clutter. Physical clutter in your home can create emotional clutter in your brain, which can lead to increased experiences with anxiety and depression. These conditions can take a serious toll not just on your mood, but also your physical health, sleep quality, and even your oral wellness, so in your yoga room (and throughout your home), take time to declutter to help clear your mind for tranquility. 

Use Scent and Sound to Instill Positivity 

For caregivers and seniors, yoga and meditation can be invaluable practices for reducing stress and depression. Feelings of depression are common among family caregivers, and while there are many ways you can reduce those feelings, dedicating yourself to daily practice is one of the most effective for bringing more positivity to your mind. Simply changing your perspective can have serious perks for your mood, energy levels, and overall health. You can even enhance these benefits by incorporating relaxing sounds and smells into your practice.

Combining certain aromas can help you clear your mind for a more effective session, while providing more relaxation during and after your practice. Lavender is well known for its soothing properties, but you can also help quiet your stress with sandalwood, vetiver, or palo santo. To encompass all of your senses into a relaxed state, it may be helpful to add some soft music to your practice — and other parts of your day as well. In fact, yoga music at bedtime has been shown to have cardiovascular benefits, which can be helpful for seniors and caregivers alike. 

Find Tutorials and Classes to Inspire Calm 

Clearing out a relaxing space is a good first step for caregivers and seniors looking to start yoga and meditation. Getting started with a practice, however, may take some additional homework. It’s crucial to come to a place where you can completely clear your mind, but this is often much harder than it sounds. The daily stresses of being a caregiver can easily creep into your sessions and make it hard to reap the full benefits of your practice. Consider using a mindfulness app (Headspace is a great option, but keep in mind that it’s $12.99 a month for content) to keep distracting thoughts at bay. These smartphone apps offer guided instruction to help you bring more focus to your practice while also providing daily reminders for you to hit the mat. 

Visual instruction may be more beneficial when it comes to perfecting yoga poses, and there are online yoga classes that can help you. Taking these classes online gives you the control to take breaks when needed and modify your practice to fit your daily needs. 

Self-care can be lifesaving for seniors and caregivers, so consider using yoga and meditation to add more self-care to your day. The benefits to your mental health are boundless, and you are guaranteed to walk away from your practice more relaxed, more energized, and more positive about the rest of your day. 

The author is: Harry Cline of newcaregiver.org. Thank you Harry for this guest post with great information.

Our clinic will start offering an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy group (MBCT), which is an evidenced-based treatment for dealing with stress and anxiety. Please click the link for more information: Chinese link, English Link.

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