Whether you’re running after children, focusing on establishing a great career or simply trying to maintain a healthy social life alongside an active lifestyle (easier said than done), life over the age of 40 can often speed up, instead of slowing down. If we don’t properly take care of both our body and mind, we can find ourselves run down and exhausted, struggling to keep up with daily stresses and to-dos.
Meditation is a fantastic tool that, as we grow older, can help us cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life. While setting aside ten minutes a day to meditate when you have a to-do list the length of your right arm may seem counterproductive, the reality is the opposite. Meditation can help us in so many areas of our lives, especially as we start to grow older.
Start a regular meditation practise and you could see some (or perhaps all!) of these mental and physical benefits.
01. Greater Confidence
Alas, our bodies change as we grow older and sometimes it can feel a little…disheartening. While the female body is an incredible thing and should be appreciated no matter how it looks, it can still be a little knock to the ego to look back at pictures of ourselves in our prime. Meditation is a fantastic way to increase your confidence and get you loving your body again.
Meditation promotes both acceptance and gratitude. By solely focusing on the present moment, as a meditation practise encourages, meditators will learn to be content with their current situation, acting with non-judgement towards both themselves and others.
02. Stabilizes Hormones
There’s no denying that once we get older, our hormones can go a little haywire. Whether it’s the dreaded night sweats or the mood swing to rival all mood swings, meditation can help regulate hormones and keep our bodies ticking over nicely.
Meditating regularly will lower cortisol and adrenaline in the body, two of the body’s most prominent stress hormones. Alongside this, meditation will release feel good hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. These two hormones are most commonly used in antidepressants, yet a meditation practise will encourage the body to manufacture them of it’s own accord!
03. Higher Libido
If you find your libido starting to slow as you grow older, meditation could be the cure. When your body is stressed, sex may be the last thing on your mind, but meditation can help you find your drive again. With lower cortisol levels and increased feelings of happiness, regular meditators often find they get their mojo back, helping them to reconnect with their partners and feel like their old selves again in the bedroom.
04. Higher Productivity
Stress has become our default setting and we often feel as though we have so much to do and not as enough time to do it in! However, if you find yourself regularly procrastinating and struggling to get into the zone, meditation might be your secret weapon.
Meditating regularly can cause a physiological change in the brain in the form of gyrification. This process boosts how well your brain processes information and makes decisions, even helping you to concentrate for longer. That to-do list has never looked so easy!
05. Better Sleep
Stress can often cause us to lose sleep at night, eventually leading to more stress and most likely, feelings of irritability. Practising breathing exercises before bed will relax both your mind and body, helping you to sleep deeper and for longer. While it can be tempting to have one last check of the emails or scroll through social media before you go to sleep, this is unlikely to do much for your quality of sleep. A short meditation is a much better use of those last few minutes before bed, with the positive benefits extending right through to the next day.
06. Increased Immunity
Cold and flu season can be a nightmare, especially if you’ve got a lot on and can’t afford to take time away to recover. Give your body the best chance possible of withstanding those nasty germs by meditating. Meditation creates a positive, healthy environment which allows your immune system to flourish. It can even increase antibodies which will go a long way towards keeping you illness-free.
07. Reduced Anxiety and Depression
We are living in a fast-paced world, and the unfortunate side effect of that can be a huge amount of stress which, if left unmanaged, can lead to anxiety or depression. If you feel as though you may be depressed, it’s best to seek professional help, however, meditation does a great job easing daily stresses and is now a recognized form of treatment for depression.
Meditating regularly helps sufferers of depression to centre themselves in the present moment and observe their thoughts as they rise and fall. This feeling of being in the moment is often lost in our hectic lives, yet it’s one of the best ways to instil a sense of calm over the mind and body. While meditation increases the ‘happy’ hormones that are prevalent in antidepressants, it has virtually no negative side effects, making it an excellent substitute to medication.
How To Meditate?
If you’re ready to start reaping the benefits of meditation, but don’t know where to start, we can assure you that you are not alone. While there’s a whole host of apps and audios available for guided meditations which, as a total beginner, you may want to start off with, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t practise meditating on your own. Here’s a short meditation you can do:
- Set a timer for 5-10 minutes so that you stop worrying about falling asleep during your meditation!
- Find yourself a comfortable place to sit. We recommend feet flat on the floor with a straight back, but sitting on a bed or on the floor also works well.
- Take a few moments to centre yourself in your body – take a few deep breaths in and fully exhale.
- Release your control on the breath and begin to breathe normally, noticing the sensation of your chest as it rises and falls
- Focus your attention on the sensation that arises most strongly for you as you breathe in and out. This could be the feeling of the cool air moving through your nostrils, the rise and fall of your belly or the movement of your chest.
- If your attention starts to wander, simply notice where your mind went and bring your focus back to the breath – this is a normal part of meditation and is absolutely fine! What is important is that you return your focus to the breath.
- Continue to breathe in this way until your timer goes off. Repeat this a few times a week to begin with and, when you feel ready, start to meditate for longer periods of time and more frequently. It won’t be long before you start to feel a change in both your mind and body!