Mindful Aging: Incorporating Joy, Gratitude, and Purpose Into Your Life
What are you grateful for? That’s a question that many of us will be thinking about at the Thanksgiving dinner table this month. Taking time to appreciate the good things we have in life is a great thing – and something that can actually improve your health, your outlook, and your quality of life.
“Practicing gratitude, just like practicing mindfulness or meditation, allows you to refocus your mind on positive aspects and can even rewire your brain to be more optimistic and peaceful,” says Allison Yancey, Executive Director of Residences at Wellpoint, an Independent Living, Assisted Living and Memory Care community in Huntsville, Alabama. “Studies have also shown that individuals who actively focus on bringing joy, gratitude, and purpose into their lives exercise more, have fewer physical ailments and pains, and feel better about their life overall.”
Unsurprisingly, when you focus on the good things in life instead of the back, you feel better overall – and continue to feel better moving forward. Allison says that this is particularly important for older adults because optimism and positivity are keystones of healthy aging.
Gratitude has been shown to help individuals sleep better and lowers stress levels, both factors that can help reduce the risk of depression and cognitive decline. Joy, according to numerous studies, strengthens your heart and reduces your risk of heart attacks, and also helps people manage pain. And finding purpose is an essential element of wellness – it promotes better physical health, boosts self-esteem, reduces stress, and encourages healthy behaviors.
“As you can see, taking the time to be grateful and appreciating the good things around you have countless benefits,” says Allison. “At Residences at Wellpoint, we focus on well-being and provide opportunities for residents to nourish their mind, body, and spirit. This results in a lifestyle to celebrate every day.”
How to Make Gratitude, Joy, and Purpose a Part of Your Daily Life
Start a gratitude journal.
Take 15 minutes each day to write down things you’re thankful for. This practice of putting pen to paper focuses your thoughts and improves your mindset almost instantly. Many people choose to journal right before bedtime because it puts them in a good headspace for a restful, fulfilling sleep.
Tell someone how much they mean.
You don’t need a special occasion to say “I love you” or “you mean a lot to me” to the people in your life. An out-of-the-blue text can be just as meaningful as a handwritten card (although sending a thoughtful, handwritten card is a great way to share your love and appreciation).
Experience the beauty of nature.
Ever notice how being in the great outdoors clears your head and can make life look sunnier? It’s not just the exercise talking – it’s science. Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, can reduce stress, fear, and anger and increase pleasant feelings.
“Smile therapy” may sound like a made-up treatment, but it’s actually a real thing with real benefits. Scientists have found that smiling – even a “fake” smile – releases dopamine and serotonin, a brain cocktail that increases happiness. In other words, practicing smiles can actually result in more, natural smiles every day.
Volunteer your time to a worthy cause.
One of the benefits of getting older and retiring is that you now have time to do the things you want to do. What brings you fulfillment? Many of us enjoy passing along knowledge or using our talents to make the world a better place. By actively helping others, we feel fulfilled and find purpose.
Avoid negative media.
Yes, this can be hard to do in today’s age of 24/7 media. If you’re addicted to your smartphone or can’t stop watching the news, try stopping for a day and see how you feel. Or if that’s too much, stop looking at sites or watching shows that make you feel angry, frustrated, or upset. You may soon notice how much better you feel when you’re not dwelling in negativity constantly.
Spend quality time with the people you care about.
What’s the most important thing in your life? We imagine that, no matter what your answer is, it was a person or people. Relationships are the foundation of quality life, and it’s important to nurture them and make them a priority. Actively carve out time to spend with your family, friends, and acquaintances.
At its core, meditation is all about focusing and being in the moment – not dwelling on your thoughts, the past, or the future. It truly is the act of “letting go,” and has been shown to provide benefits. Even five minutes a day can boost your happiness levels and improve your outlook (while also reducing your stress levels).
Say “thank you.”
Thanking someone for things that they’ve done is just good manners, and it also puts you in the gratitude mindset. Whether big or small, the act of acknowledging one another provides a boost to you and the other person. Best of all, it takes hardly any time and doesn’t cost any money.
Change your thinking.
This can be a difficult thing to start out doing. The idea revolves around this: when you find yourself thinking of something negative, you stop, flip your thinking and instead try and find something positive about the situation. For example, let’s say you’re sitting in a traffic jam and you find yourself getting angry about being late. Instead of dwelling on that anger, recognize the emotion and then find something to be thankful for: say, you’re grateful to have a reliable car that allows you to go where you need to go. While this can seem awkward and insincere at first, keep at it and there will come a day when it becomes second nature.
Where It All Comes Together
At Residences at Wellpoint, we provide an exceptional experience for those who desire Independent Living, Assisted Living, or Memory Care in the Huntsville area. As part of the broader Wellpoint Community “campus,” we cultivate an engaged, intergenerational community unlike any other. Here, we celebrate well-being with an array of social programs, innovative, on-site medical technology, a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle and so much more.
Here, our residents enjoy complete freedom of choice as well as the ability to plan their days however they choose. This is because we take the tedious routines of everyday life off your hands so that you can enjoy your life any way you wish. Go on an outing, enjoy the community, get fit in the Via Center, enjoy our dining bistro, or shoot a game of pool in the sports/billiards bar. It’s all waiting for you.
No matter what your needs are, we can meet them. Our lifestyle philosophy supports every need along your journey, whether you desire Independent Living, need the assistance of our Assisted Living program, or begin to need Memory Care. However your needs may change, we offer on-site medical assistance and supportive services so you can continue enjoying the engaging lifestyle you love. Contact us to learn more!
Call us at 256.274.5312 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.