As a senior, the benefits of regular physical activity, eating well and keeping themselves busy are well-known. However, not many people talk about spirituality’s impact on mental health and our well-being.
Since ancient times, India has been known as the land of spirituality. In our country, spirituality is a significant part of many people’s lives, especially seniors. Spirituality is a very broad tent. To some, it might mean attending religious services regularly, while to others, it could mean simply being still and allowing the universe to speak to them in that silence. Some people even associate spirituality with finding existence’s who, what, and why.
However, some of us tend to interchange spirituality and religion, not realising that there is a thin line that separates these two. Religion is a set of beliefs and principles that most people follow as a path to attain spirituality. It is important to remember that it is possible to be spiritual without following a religion. To be spiritual, all you have to do is believe in a power beyond humankind; it need not be any particular god of any religion.
Whatever your definition of spirituality is, it is found to positively affect one’s health, especially for seniors. Over the last few years, science has taken a closer look at spirituality’s role in health and ageing. Several studies have shown that as we grow older, we benefit from having a sense of purpose in life, a supportive community, and a hopeful outlook – all concepts often associated with spirituality. So, if you are someone who is looking to explore spirituality in one form or another, here is how it can help you age positively.
Boost your overall wellness
Studies show that engaging in spirituality can help seniors live longer. A spiritual connection can not only give a boost to your mental health but your overall wellness.
Seniors who rely on spirituality or faith have a more positive and hopeful attitude about life and illnesses, which can sometimes lead to better health outcomes. You are less likely to develop depression and anxiety and may even have healthier habits and relationships. According to studies, practising spirituality can also help slow or reduce cognitive decline in cases of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Gives a sense of community
As seniors, we often end up feeling isolated and crave opportunities for social interactions. A strong sense of community is at the heart of most faith or spiritual groups when practising spirituality. People form and strengthen relationships through their faith, whether it’s by enrolling in group meditation classes or attending prayer meetings within the community.
Staying active in social circles helps address loneliness and symptoms of depression but can also potentially reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers. A support system within your community can be exceptionally comforting during difficult times. As seniors, we sometimes struggle with our illnesses or even the concept of mortality. Having someone to talk to about the same can help seniors cope and live healthier, happier life.
Gives life a purpose
As we age, we slowly transition out of our careers and move on to our golden retirement years. The children have grown up, are settled, and don’t need us around as much. For some, this transition can be challenging to cope with, which is why it is extremely important to find new ways to keep ourselves busy and give our lives a purpose.
Connecting to something bigger than ourselves, helping others, and thinking beyond our own lives can truly improve the quality of our days and give our life meaning. A sense of meaning and purpose can work wonders not only for our mental health but also for our overall well-being.
Several studies show that seniors with a sense of purpose are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, heart attacks or strokes and are more likely to live longer than people without any underlying motivation.
Taking care of ourselves spiritually can help us approach life more positively as seniors. If you want to get started, one of the easiest ways to do it is to start meditating while focusing on your breathing. Sit upright, close your eyes, and take deep breaths. Be conscious of each inhale and exhale as you start to breathe in more deeply. Focusing on your breath helps calm your nerves and reduces stress and anxiety. It also encourages relaxation and helps lower pain levels. Today, many resources are available online and offline to help beginners step into the world of meditation and spirituality.