With increasing longevity, spiritual needs of older adults are becoming more important.
In fact, research shows that people who practice spirituality live on average seven years longer than those who don’t.
Many healthcare providers lack the professional training and have limited time to spend with their patients. Practitioners are also facing pressure to become more ‘efficient’ at the expense of their patients. This leaves us having to seek out others to address our spiritual needs.
Practicing spirituality can help you remain positive and strengthen your mind and body. You will develop a more hopeful attitude and a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. As you age you may be more susceptible to sadness and disillusionment. This can lead to bouts of depression. Practicing spirituality will help to avoid this common mental health issue among older adults.
Reasons To Practice Spirituality
Retirement – Reaching retirement results in huge changes to your lifestyle. Leaving your previous role in the workplace can leave a tremendous void. Your self identity may take a big hit. Having this extra time on our hands allows us to reflect on our achievements and setbacks. It’s a great time to start developing deeper connections with the people in our lives.
Grief – Older adults will experience more grief as our friends and family members pass away. We may not have experienced this kind of grief before or as frequently. Our spirituality can provide relief and deeper understanding of life.
Increased Dependency – As our mental and physical abilities decrease in our later years we need to find ways to accept these circumstances. Spirituality can help us to understand and embrace our lives more easily.
Our Mortality – Thoughts of passing away may drive us to question what happens to our spirit or soul. We wonder what will happen to our loved ones or whether we’ve left a positive legacy. Practicing spirituality will help us to make peace with our thoughts of the unknown.
How To Practice Spirituality
Practicing religion is a great way to achieve spirituality but you certainly don’t have to be religious to be spiritual. Whatever you love doing and whatever makes you feel alive can be considered a spiritual activity. The best way to practice spirituality and develop a deeper sense of connection is by doing some of the activities listed below.
Volunteering – Spend some of your time with a worthy cause to avoid feelings of isolation. This will promote positive emotions and a greater sense of independence. Volunteering can reduce stress, anxiety and depression and provide you with a sense of purpose. It encourages connection with your community while also bringing you fun and fulfillment in your life. Providing your time and efforts to a worthy cause can generate many positive feelings that will form in your spiritual core. Volunteering doesn’t need to take up a lot of your time. Research shows that two to three hours per week is enough to gain the most benefits. Volunteer only the time that you feel comfortable with.
Spend Time In Nature – Spending time in nature allows us to reflect on our life and practice prayer in silence. When our environment is clean and natural it has a positive impact and we experience peace of mind. Spending time in nature can be as simple as a walk through your local park. Visit a lake, the ocean side or mountains. You may even want to meditate while in your natural surroundings. Planting flowers or growing a garden is also a wonderful way to enjoy nature and be in the present moment.
Meditate – Meditation trains your mind to increase your self awareness and to practice being in the moment. You can practice ‘Concentration Meditation’ or ‘Mindfulness Meditation’. If you are a beginner in meditation this video may help you.
Concentration meditation involves sitting and focusing on a single point. You can focus on your breathing, repeat a word or mantra, stare at a candle or listen to a repetitive sound. You can also add an oil diffuser to your room to enhance the experience. This post provides more detailed instructions on meditation.
Mindfulness meditation encourages you to observe your thoughts while meditating. Don’t judge them but simply be aware of them. With each meditation session you will observe how you judge an experience. This will help to develop an inner balance. When you find your mind wandering, after you observe the thought, let it go and refocus on the chosen object of your meditation. This post provides more detailed instructions on meditation.
Yoga – Practicing yoga will help you achieve a higher state of consciousness and improve physical and mental wellness. It can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and recover more quickly from strokes and surgeries. It can help to prevent falls, manage arthritis, diabetes and manage digestive issues like IBS. Older adults can practice yoga by taking a gentle yoga class initially. As you build up your strength and flexibility you can move on to more difficult yoga poses.
Arts and crafts – Creating something whether it’s drawing, painting, sculpting or making jewellery will generate inside you a sense of harmony and immense possibility. Many people also experience a meditative and transcendent mood. Your spirit will guide you to let your creative process unfold and encourage you to let go of judgement about whether your art is good or bad. You rely more on your intuition rather than logic or reason. Arts and crafts also provide a safe place to explore and express your feelings and experiences.
Journaling – Journaling is a great form of therapy! When you start to feel overwhelmed, writing about it is a great release from your anxiety. Once you have written these thoughts down you can more easily ponder and reflect on them and then release them. Journaling is especially effective when you are feeling angry, sad or anxious. You can express gratitude in your writing which will immediately change your mood to being more positive. You can journal about goals you want to reach or positive affirmations about yourself. Many people journal about their dreams to gain a better understanding. When you journal it allows you to be in the present and connect to your spirit. You don’t need to journal everyday, but journal when you are feeling anxious, sad, angry or even happy!
I hope the above suggestions encourage you to adopt new ways of living such as speaking more from the heart and creating deeper connections. Spirituality doesn’t stop with aging and anyone can follow a spiritual path. Regardless of your age, explore the deep mysteries of life and start on your spiritual journey.
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