The outbreak of COVID-19 is stressful for people and triggers strong panic and emotions for the elderly, as they are the most vulnerable to the infection.
Most of us are overwhelmed with the disease, as the number of infected cases continues to increase, particularly in New York City. Adding to the situation is the fear of having no pharmaceutical medicines that can combat the novel coronavirus.
Nevertheless, self-care practices play essential roles during the quarantine period. Health institutions believe that meditation is effective in easing seniors’ anxiety regarding coronavirus. Further, a senior’s ability to cope with stress helps a lot in fighting the new virus.
Types of Meditation for Seniors
Guided meditation redirects a positive mood for seniors. The beauty of meditation is that it serves as an exercise for the brain. Similar to physical workouts, meditation provides bountiful benefits, such as better concentration and improved focus. What’s more, all age groups can meditate. Family members can join their senior loved ones while meditating. Another good thing about this self-care activity is that participants don’t need a complex training process or special equipment to start.
Several meditation guidelines are found on the internet. Yet, three of the most beneficial to seniors are Yoga, Tai Chi, and Controlled Breathing. Here are their differences:
Yoga originated in India approximately 5,000 years ago. It is a mind-body practice that helps participants boost their balance and flexibility. One of the most significant benefits of Yoga is its ability to increase senior’s mindfulness and openness. The activity specifically eases seniors’ worries about the coronavirus outbreak and helps them maintain their calmness throughout the day, despite the crisis.
This type of meditation is more than toning muscles and burning calories. Seniors can significantly improve their physical, mental, and emotional health. Yet, seniors should know that Yoga has different techniques and should choose the “gentle” practices. Examples of gentle Yoga include Viniyoga, Kripalu, Iyengar, Hatha, and Sivananda. Seniors can learn more about Yoga benefits here.
Meanwhile, China introduced Tai Chi as an internal martial art. As time passed by, it has been adapted into a traditional meditation where seniors can reap off a wealth of benefits for as little as twenty minutes. Health institutions praise Tai Chi for its health benefits to seniors, as it caters to breathing, concentration, and movements.
Tai Chi encompasses nineteen movements with a single pose. Assisting seniors’ needs, this practice has slow, gentle movements. It allows seniors, and even family members, to breathe correctly. Tai Chi concentrates on specific movements that help seniors calm their minds and release their stress. Tai Chi offers health advantages to seniors. You can learn those benefits here.
Lastly, seniors can eliminate stress and anxiety through controlled breathing. It’s an effective method to keep the senior’s mind and body active and healthy by lowering blood pressure, calming nerves, and relieving the burden.
An example of controlled meditation is deep breathing. Seniors don’t realize that most of them take short, shallow breaths into their lungs. Deep breathing helps seniors take bigger breaths, which increases one’s awareness, mindfulness, and consciousness.
Meditation Benefits in Managing Coronavirus Anxiety
Now that you’ve learned the different meditation techniques, it’s now time for you to implement them. Practicing self-care meditation daily gives seniors the following benefits to ward off coronavirus anxiety.
1. It boosts the immune system
Findings suggest that mindfulness meditation has a direct impact on cultivating seniors’ awareness in daily life and improving human health and well-being.
According to Rudolph Tanzi, holding positions at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, meditations relives seniors from day-to-day stress. In fact, it’s considered as a way to protect oneself from the dangers of anxiety, which leads to healthier aging. Seniors who regularly meditate gain more beneficial outputs than having a vacation outdoors (which is an excellent alternative because of the pandemic outbreak).
The trick in the mind-body practice is learning how to control your breathing patterns to achieve optimal immunologic well-being.
2. It normalizes blood pressure
A study suggesting the benefits of mindfulness meditation in reducing blood pressure and stress found out a positive correlation between the two. Researchers categorized high-normal blood pressure individuals into two groups: intervention and control group. The intervention group attended mindfulness training while the control group participated in health education talks. At the end of the four-month trial, the intervention group perceived normal blood pressure, along with being less judgmental and depressed, compared to the control group.
The normalized blood pressure lies behind the meditation’s stimulation of genes responsible for producing telomerase (an enzyme related to lower blood pressure and mortality). Thus, closing the eyes for twenty minutes, twice a daily, helps seniors improve their quality of life.
3. It produces less cortisol
Coronavirus anxiety can be attributed to a type of psychiatric disorder today. In a study made in 2013, an article published under the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand concluded that mindfulness meditation lowers cortisol levels in the blood. Cortisol levels are stress hormones produced by the adrenal glands, which are essential in managing stressful situations.
To add, seniors with less cortisol respond to events calmly. Meditation is proven to decrease the risks associated with a psychiatric disorder and disrupted sleeping patterns. As long as combined with standard treatment, seniors can fully benefit from the meditation practices.
4. It improves emotional health
Last but not least, meditation improves seniors’ emotional health. Practicing Yoga, Tai Chi, or Controlled Breathing allows seniors to breathe deeply while concentrating their mind for some time. Although there are several forms of meditations, their utmost goal is to provide seniors with inner peace, calmness, and relaxation.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction was initially used to treat chronic pain but has been used to treat emotional and mental health disorders, like anxiety. And as the Psychological Health Center of Excellence pointed out, meditation delivers promising results in easing an individual’s anxiety.
Hopefully, the pandemic outbreak will soon finish. While the government encourages the public to stay indoors, don’t forget that seniors need to practice self-care to have a better, quality life.