What is Mindfulness?
It is essential to be aware that although many circumstances have changed drastically during these unprecedented times, there are invaluable qualities within us that should remain under one’s control. Whether you are an older adult or an adult child, being mindful of each other can uplift any circumstance and be beneficial towards building the new normal. Many of these said qualities are a lot more visible and evident, such as having self-control when shopping for groceries or toilet paper. Mindfulness, on the other hand, remains under the surface, and it can make all the difference when relating to family and friends today.
Although a very personal practice, mindfulness is the practice of intentionally being aware of what is presently happening to oneself inside and out. Understand that mindfulness is not about ignoring adverse conditions, but acknowledging that you are ultimately in control of your emotions and thoughts. In a city that is very open-minded like Portland, mindfulness improves how we relate to others and ourselves.
Mindfulness for Older Adults
As families draw closer, it is essential always to be aware and accepting of what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness does not change a circumstance, but it does determine how you handle a circumstance. With that in mind, what does being mindful as an older adult look like at the moment? The truth is, older adults could face the most serious danger and are the ones among us that are affected the most by the reactions of others. Although this may be true, what could be presently happening at the moment is: your loved ones have reached out to you, they have expressed their awareness of your situation, and have offered to be at your disposal whenever needed. Although things have changed, you are currently as healthy as you can be and are not in any danger; also, things will change and improve soon. It is essential to focus on the present and not in the unforeseen future. Here are some practical applications for yourself:
- Spend time taking deep breathes, and with closed eyes, focus on your breathing and in your senses. This very beneficial to one’s overall health.
- Reflect on the good things you currently have, preferably in the morning. Journalling or writing them down is encouraged!
- Acknowledge the great sunny weather and enjoy it! You don’t see much of that in Portland.
- Admit that you are not liable for the actions of others. Attention to things out of our control are distractions and keep us from focusing on ways we can personally improve.
- Ponder on how you have been thinking and ways you could change any unintentional anxious thoughts.
- Reaffirm your positive thoughts; this will allow you to meditate on them, which is return is time well spent. Journalling or writing notes is a great method of doing this as well.
- Relax and appreciate your day; squandering time is not the answer to passive emotions of idleness.
Mindfulness for Family Caregivers and Adult Children
As a child of an older adult, you have the power and responsibility to create an excellent present state for your parent. One begins by being mindful of your family around you and not of the situation surrounding you. Feeling cornered or trapped can be a natural rabbit hole to wander in, but it will only negatively affect the present state of others more than improve your own. How you handle news or the actions of others you can’t influence can be a delicate slippery slope. Here is a good rule of thumb, be aware of the circumstances, but most importantly, be mindful of people. Mindfulness improves our thought process, our emotional stability, and teaches us how to deal with stress. All of the benefits mentioned ultimately affect how we deal with people, and how we deal with people affects our circumstances. If having to take care of an older parent to take care of is starting to look like a burden, being mindful can shed light on the internal process that determines the anxious outcome.
Mindfulness with a Caregiver
Mindfulness can be a very personal practice, considering how one must be honest and transparent with one’s thoughts and emotions. This can understandably be frightening and even a little stressful. Fear and stress can unknowingly drive some people to isolation; of course, honesty and transparency are not comforting at first. The problem with isolation is that it places all people in vulnerable situations. Mindfulness strengthens community, and strong community practices honesty and transparency together. The purpose of a caregiver is to enlarge the boundaries of a community to those marginalized. Therefore, practicing mindfulness with a caregiver allows older adults to reintegrate their needs to the broader community that cares for them. Take note that one might disguise said stress and fear of openness and transparency with not having enough time or not wanting distractions. Here are three benefits of having a caregiver in response to those thoughts:
- You can maintain a level of accountability with a caregiver. Whether you see your emotions or thought life improve, accountability is not only there to keep you from failing but to cheer you on in your progress.
- A caregiver’s assistance is to maintain your independence rather than to obstruct it. Mindfulness requires time and effort. A caregiver will allow you to focus on what is most important in your life, which includes your emotional and mental health.
- We all need encouragement on a daily basis. The caregiver’s personal impact can help reaffirm the right practices and habits in a person’s life.