How to Stay Positive Throughout Your Life

Mindfulness makes it easier to cope with age-related challenges and stress.

Posted Apr 03, 2020

S.McQuillan
Meditation can help develop mindfulness.
Source: S.McQuillan

Researchers who study healthy aging at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia have found that some aspects of life can improve with age, as can the ability to adapt to aged-related changes and challenges. One key may be using mindfulness skills to reduce stress and promote positivity. Mindfulness skills include focusing on your thoughts and environment in the present moment, adopting an open and nonjudgmental attitude toward your experiences, and recognizing that anything you feel or experience in the present moment is temporary and will change.

Using an internet-based questionnaire, the researchers collected data from more than 600 men and women between the ages of 18 and 84 to help them measure individual mindfulness traits, such as non-attachment, present-moment attention, and acceptance. They also assessed participants' flexibility when it came to adjusting day-to-day goals. They then looked at the relationships between these characteristics and well-being at different stages of life. 

The researchers found that positive associations between mindfulness and wellbeing grow stronger with the onset of middle age. The results suggest that the ability to understand the transient nature of individual experiences may help older people better manage their daily goals. Although mindfulness skills can improve quality of life at any age, the researchers point out that they are often more readily accessed by older people who have the benefit of more free time and acquired wisdom to take advantage of mindfulness tools that improve their wellbeing.

Other research has found that, as we age, we become more vulnerable to unavoidable stress. In that case, the researchers suggest, mindfulness techniques can serve both protective and restorative purposes, helping us manage and cope with the inevitable stress that accompanies the onset of chronic medical conditions. Additionally, these researchers report that ongoing use of mindfulness tools to maintain a nonjudgemental and accepting attitude has been shown to help regulate emotions and other psychological responses to aging.

References

Mahlo L and Windsor TD. Older and more mindful? Age differences in mindfulness components and well-being. Aging & Mental Health. March 2, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/13607863.2020.1734915

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13607863.2020.1734915