Reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, relieving pain — mindfulness can have a measurable positive impact on physical and mental health for young and old.
More than just a buzzword, research has even shown that mindfulness in aged care could help to prevent dementia, slow its progress, reduce dementia-related stress and improve quality of life. With one of the busiest times of the year coming up fast, why not incorporate mindful Christmas activities into your festive preparations?
Focusing on the present is challenging for anyone, and unsurprisingly many seniors can tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Mindfulness aims to shift our mental state into the present to reconnect with ourselves and our surroundings. Taking the time to practice mindfulness in aged care in the midst of the Christmas period can help everyone process this festive time of year more easily and find joy in the little things. Try our mindful Christmas activities that are simple and achievable for many in your aged care setting.
A very mindful Christmas
Whether it’s decorations or gifts, craft can be the perfect mindful Christmas activity. Encourage those in your group to notice the texture of the materials they are working with. Are they rough or smooth? Observe the way the colours work together. If you choose to make Christmas cards, encourage mindful writing. Rather than generic Christmas and New Year wishes, suggest thoughtful, individualised card messages. For craft ideas to use in aged care settings, take a look here.
Listening to music we can often daydream and let the mind wander. When we are mindfully listening to music we want to focus on the sounds, the instruments, the tempo and the way the body responds to the music. Choose some Christmas carols that your ageing individuals enjoy and set some time aside to just listen mindfully.
The simplest way to practice mindfulness, not just at Christmas but anytime, is through breathing exercises. This can be done from a seated position or any comfortable position. Once relaxed, encourage those involved in the mindfulness practice to breath in deeply through their nose for four seconds followed by a releasing exhale for four seconds. Notice the breath going in — does it feel a little cool on the inhale? Feel or see the chest or belly rise with the breath. What about the exhale — is the breath warm as it leaves? Mindful breathing is meditative and can be highly relaxing physically and mentally even when undertaken for just a couple of minutes. A great way for seniors as well as carers to take a moment to unwind.
Incorporating mindfulness into your aged care facility can help everyone to enjoy a calm Christmas season and beyond, which is especially important for those in your care who find this time of year to be stressful or upsetting.
Designing activity programs for those in aged care is a central focus of our Certificate IV in Leisure and Health (CHC43415). Let’s chat about upskilling opportunities to enhance the way you approach leisure and health in aged care facilities.