• Getting Started with Yoga and Meditation

    Getting Started with Yoga and Meditation

     

    Yoga and meditation each provide phenomenal support to overall well-being at any age. For seniors in particular, yoga is a low-impact exercise that has the added benefits of aiding flexibility and balance while encouraging healthy lifestyles. Mindfulness, either through yoga practice or during meditation, provides another layer of support to mental, emotional and physical health. It’s never too late to get started with yoga and meditation. Here are some tips to start your journey to self-knowledge and flexibility.

     

    Yoga can target ailments common as we age

     

    Joint pain and arthritis are common among seniors. Yoga helps alleviate these conditions, because yoga isn’t just an exercise - it is a practice. The practice of yoga encourages mindfulness that extends beyond the poses into the life of the person who is doing the exercises. Yoga’s mindfulness adds a stream of positivity throughout one’s life. Those who practice yoga tend to follow healthier diets, and incorporate additional exercises into their daily routines. 

     

    Yoga can be done almost anywhere

     

    Starting a new exercise regimen like yoga may bring to mind difficult classes and time and financial commitments. Many yoga poses are simple and can be done right where you stand. Chair yoga even brings parts of yoga practice to anyone with balance concerns. A perfect way to slowly introduce your body to the practice, chair yoga has many of the benefits of traditional yoga. It helps reduce stress and alleviate pain and fatigue. Some chair yoga poses include:

    • Seated mountain, which activates your core.
    • Warrior I, which reinforces good posture while reaching for the ceiling.
    • Seated forward bend, a pose that introduces light bending into core-strengthening movements.
    • Reverse arm hold, which is a routine part of traditional practice that develops upper arm flexibility and supports shoulder health.

     

    Not all yoga poses twist your body into pretzel shapes

     

    Many traditional yoga poses are more about stability, breathing and posture, and less about getting all tied up in a contortionist’s knot. Beginner poses focus on light stretching and serene comfort. The following are perfect beginner moves:

    • Standing mountain pose.
    • Child’s pose. This basic pose resembles sitting on the floor while bowing your body and arms forward, as in a prayer.
    • Warrior II. Similar to the seated Warrior I pose, this movement develops balance by having you turn sideways while stretching your arms out - one in front and the other pointing backwards.
    • Tree pose. A little more advanced, as it has you lift one of your legs off the ground, tree pose is the ultimate beginner’s movement for balance and posture.

     

    Yoga can be done at home

     

    Although the practice of yoga can be done in a chair or just with a little floorspace, as you advance through practice, you may find that you prefer a little more room to flex, move and try new poses. As far as exercises go, yoga requires only a small investment in equipment, so it’s easy and affordable to create a simple home yoga studio.

     

    The most important thing to remember is that yoga requires calmness. In our busy lives, serenity may be hard to come by. Wherever you choose to locate your home yoga studio, make sure it is a quiet and clutter-free space. When decorating, think minimalism and light colors. Natural light is helpful, as are some other natural elements such as a plant or a small fountain.

     

    Done right, your yoga space can double as a meditation room, where you’ll be able to benefit from mindfulness even when you are not planning on doing any yoga moves. Beyond the physical and stress-reducing effects of yoga, meditation is highly beneficial to seniors in areas of mental health, including strengthening cognition.

     

    Yoga and meditation help older adults thrive physically and mentally. Both encourage healthy living in a sustainable, unobtrusive way that fits well with any senior’s lifestyle.

     

    Harry Cline | info@newcaregiver.org

    newcaregiver.org

    The New Caregiver’s Comprehensive Resource: Advice, Tips, and Solutions from Around the Web

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  • What You Should Do After a Relapse to Get Focused and Continue Your Journey

     

    What You Should Do After a Relapse to Get Focused and Continue Your Journey

     

    Anyone who says addiction recovery is a straight and narrow path is optimistic at best. Recovery can be a winding road full of pit stops, speed bumps and detours. Many addicts who have come through the other side clean and are now living healthy, substance-free lives had their share of setbacks. It’s normal. You will recover, but here are some things you must do after a relapse to get yourself back on the path. 

     

    Forgive yourself immediately

     

    You cannot move forward with your recovery if you don’t first forgive yourself for your relapse. Think about it this way: If you are driving somewhere and you suffer an unexpected flat tire, do you just pop the rest of your tires and give up? Of course not. You change the tire and keep driving. The key to forgiveness is knowing that relapse can be part of the process. Be honest with yourself. Is it ideal? No. Can you move on? Yes. 

     

    Focus on boosting your self-esteem. This starts with reframing your own narrative and refusing to compare yourself to others in your situation. 

     

    Resist the urge to become isolated

     

    Addiction is a lonely disease. People with substance problems often push loved ones away as their disease progresses and takes hold of their life. This is due to guilt, shame, embarrassment, and a host of negative emotions. When you relapse, you are falling back into old habits - and that doesn’t just mean abusing. Isolation is an old habit that you have to work to overcome

     

    When you’re working to avoid isolation, you have the danger of being thrust into tough social situations. You must work on asserting yourself with your friends and family and dictating social scenarios that work for you. Avoid triggers and stressful locations. Don’t hang out at a bar, for example.  

     

    Focus on finding some distractions

     

    If you’re addicted to something, you spend a lot of time on it. When you’re in recovery, you have to find things to fill the time void that’s left when you stop drinking. Filling your days with distractions is key, especially following a relapse. A new hobby could be a good idea and there are plenty that are suited for those in recovery. Try something that promotes mindfulness like yoga or gardening. Or just make a list of all the things you’ve always wanted to do.

     

    Another “distraction” better described as a life shift is focusing on your physical health. A healthy body begets a healthy mind, which begets a better foundation for recovery. Dive into some sort of exercise - running, basketball, racquetball - it doesn’t matter what (as long as it’s fun). As long as you are doing enough to replete your brain’s serotonin you are helping yourself recover. 

     

    Lean into therapy

     

    Even the strongest people are not equipped to handle recovery and especially recovery post-relapse - alone. Therapy - whether it be one-on-one counseling, guidance from a spiritual leader, group therapy, or step meetings - is something you should lean into at this moment in your journey. Not only does it help to hold you accountable for your actions, but also the people who lead therapy have seen it all. They know how to help you succeed. 

     

    Often a relapse is a feature, not a bug, of the recovery process. It happens to most everyone in your boat, and if you reframe the situation you can come out of it stronger and more determined to get clean. Instead of thinking of a relapse as a failure, think of it as a teaching moment and a character booster. 

     

    Photo by Anna Sullivan on Unsplash

     

    Constance Ray

    Recoverywell.org

    constance@recoverywell.org

  • Treat Yourself: Make the Most of Your PTO with a Stress-Free Vacation and Reap the Benefits 

     

    Treat Yourself: Make the Most of Your PTO with a Stress-Free Vacation and Reap the Benefits 

     

     

    Photo Credit: Pexels, Pixabay

     

    Around 40 percent of Americans don’t plan on using all of their paid time off (PTO) this year. If you’re part of this crowd, you need to reconsider. No, your workload isn’t too much and you won’t be seen as replaceable. Yes, other people can handle your job too. You need a break. It can actually make you have better job performance and provide other health benefits as well. It’s time to treat yourself by taking a stress-free vacation.

     

    The key to happiness may be a vacation. A study found that people who take time off of work are happier than those who don’t. The main reason seems to be excited anticipation for vacation. And the happiness doesn’t disappear when vacation ends; the increased levels of happiness last for two weeks after returning to work.

     

    Taking a break from work helps you feel renewed, so you can come back to work even fiercer. A study found that the best performers practice in 90-minute intervals with breaks between sessions, thus showing that people need restoration to optimize their performances. In fact, performance reviews increase by eight percent for each 10 hours an employee takes for vacation.

     

    A relaxed brain is able to focus on mundane but necessary tasks, such as memorizing new skills like mastering new software that your company is using. Taking a vacation can give your brain the relaxation it needs to grasp new concepts. Without a vacation, it’s difficult for your brain to focus outside of the immediate whirlwind that is your everyday routine.

     

    In fact, allowing your brain to daydream boosts problem-solving skills, planning, and creativity. At work, you’re highly focused and overworking your brain, thus limiting its insightful capabilities. However, a relaxing vacation gives your brain a chance to daydream. Furthermore, new experiences can give you fresh ideas for work because multicultural experiences help promote creativity and spawn new ideas. However, this only occurs when you’re simply immersing yourself and enjoying the moment.

     

    Of course, not all vacations are created equal, and not everyone will enjoy the same type of vacation. Being extremely remote isn’t necessarily the best option. Completely disconnecting yourself can lead to an overwhelming urge to connect, which can ruin the vacation. Consider what you like to do. Do you want to ski the snowy slopes, sit by the ocean, or explore a new city? Figuring out what you enjoy most in your free time will help you choose the best vacation.

     

    A vacation full of planned activities may be key. If you always have something on the itinerary, you won’t worry about checking emails. You’ll be having such a good time that you’ll learn to let go. If you’ve already mastered the ability of letting go of work on vacation, you don’t necessarily need to plan out your days and can more spontaneous. “Those who are less anxious about their one chance to get away often feel less pressure to make their vacation perfect, and are therefore often more open to exploration and discovery,” says Forbes.

     

    Vacation is a time to relax and take a break, but that can be hard to do if you’re worried about your house. Secure the outside and inside of your home before leaving so you can have peace of mind. Walk around your property to look for vulnerabilities, such as a loose fence panel or a broken roof shingle. Consider having the roof, plumbing, and HVAC system inspected. Cleaning your gutters is important regardless of the season.

     

    Inside the home, do another walkthrough. Ensure all exterior doors and windows are closed and locked, including pet doors. Unplug all appliances and electronics that don’t need to run while you’re away, and don’t leave any food in your refrigerator and pantry that will go bad in your absence. Ensure all fire detectors have fresh batteries. Also, give your house a good cleaning before heading out.

     

    A vacation is a way to achieve work-life balance, which is vital for the wellbeing of your mental health, personal relationships, and work enjoyment. Don’t just let your PTO go to waste. Stop thinking of vacations as a luxury, and start thinking of them as a necessity. Do yourself, your employer, and your career a favor – take your much-needed and much-deserved vacation.

     

  • The Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care

    The Mental Health Benefits of Self-Care

     

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    Photo credit by Pexels

     

     

    In 2014, a report found that American workers are “insecure, underpaid, highly stressed, and generally unhappy at work.” This state of affairs may be a clue as to why illnesses and mental health issues seem to be on the rise.

     

    While you must make enough money to pay your bills, you also must make time for self-care. In fact, neglecting self-care can make you sick. That can cost you – and, according to The Society for Human Resource Management, your employer – in productivity, good decision-making, and effective work. 

     

    Proper self-care can produce:

     

    • Lower stress levels.
    • Increased self-confidence.
    • Improved brain function.
    • More productivity.
    • Better immunity – and, therefore, fewer sick days.

     

    Tried and true methods of self-care include eating healthy, exercise, quitting bad habits, and avoiding overindulgence. However, there are some practices you may have overlooked.

     

     Self-Care Practices You May Be Missing

     

    These practices are necessary to maintaining good mental health.

     

    Getting enough sleep.


    We’ve often been told that most adults need 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Unfortunately, that’s not accurate. The National Sleep Foundation recently studied sleep times. They found that most adults between the ages of 18 and 64 require 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Where you lie on that spectrum depends on your body. You probably already know if you are sleeping 6 hours (or less) a night but your body and brain need 8. It’s time to get to bed earlier.
     

    Relaxation time.


    Another self-care practice many people overlook is relaxation. Doesn’t sleep count? You might need additional relaxation time to manage an overload of stress. If you’re struggling to make decisions, settle your brain down at night, are often anxious, and can’t seem to “catch your breath” during your day, relaxation time can help you cope.

     

    Use one of these techniques a few minutes a day:

     

    • Hot bath with Epsom salts. 
    • Deep breathing exercises.
    • Journaling. This is very effective early in the morning to clear your mind.
    • Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). This is a technique that helps you relax tensed muscles. Learn how in this article from Guide To Psychology.

     

    Saying “no.”

     

    We live in a world where we feel guilty whenever we say “no.” The truth is we can’t do everything. We have to pick our priorities on the basis of who and what is important to us. It’s time to learn to say no to things that will bog us down. Learn how from this guide at Personal Excellence.

     

    Stress reduction.

    While all the habits above can help, stress is one of the most pressing issues in modern life. Unchecked, it can contribute to sickness, stroke, and heart disease. These techniques can help reduce stress:

     

    • Stress-busting foods.
      Reduce caffeine and fill up on foods that reduce stress, such as nuts and seeds, spinach, and salmon.
    • Walk in nature.
      Nature has a calming and healthy effect on the mind and body.
    • Aromatherapy.
      Calming essential oils, such as lavender, in a diffuser can help.

     

    Learn more ways to relieve stress from Very Well Mind.

     

    For People In Addiction Recovery

     

    It’s also helpful for people in addiction recovery programs to maintain self-care habits. Here are some tips:

     

    • Pick up a new hobby.
      Learning a new skill, like playing an instrument or gourmet cooking, can provide purpose, structure, and engagement in your down time to keep you occupied. As you improve, you’ll build confidence.
    • Meditation and yoga.
      These practices balance your cortisol levels, which reduces stress and allows your body and mind to heal. 

     

    In today’s world, self-care is underrated but it is just as important to creating a successful life as recovery from stress, illness, or addiction. Take the time today to integrate these practices into your life. You’ll be glad you did.

     

    Bio of the author:

    Brad Krause graduated from college in 2010 and went straight to the corporate world at the headquarters of a popular retail company. But what started as a dream job soured quickly. After four years of working 15-hour days and neglecting his health, he decided enough was enough. Through aiding a friend during a tough time, Brad discovered his real calling-helping people implement self-care practices that improve their overall wellbeing. He created SelfCaring.info to share his own knowledge and the many great resources he finds on his self-care journey.