Life never seems to slow down, even in midlife. The promised land of a peaceful retirement in one’s 50s has yet to materialise for many, including me. Midlifers are looking after their own parents, children and, for some, grandchildren. We worry about the cost of living crisis, pensions and bills. If you are suffering from a midlife crisis your anxiety, stress and worry is probably heightened.
The self-help industry promises many solutions including thinking positively. While I do believe in the power of positive thinking, it isn’t a magic solution to one’s problems. Thinking positively isn’t going to change the fact that my pension pot is rubbish. Thinking positively isn’t going to transform my regret over not putting away more towards my pension in my younger days. Yup, I can be pretty negative sometimes over my midlife regrets.
Mindfulness is a way of coping with overwhelm and anxiety. You’ve probably heard that being mindful is an essential part of a healthy and happy life. But you may be wondering just why this is and why is it important in midlife. Mindfulness is a way of increasing your physical and mental resilience and wellbeing.
I have tried it. It works and I was a sceptic once.
Put simply, being mindful has the power to change many different aspects of your life and help you cope with your midlife crisis. Embracing and giving mindfulness a go will be your attempt at trying a different solution. Sitting in the garden and almost spitting into your tea with rage isn’t going to cut it AND will be guaranteed to increase your blood pressure. It certainly did mine.
Mindfulness Helps With Midlife Mental Health
When you spend your entire life running around, worrying about all the things which may be happening in your life at present and in the future, you’re likely to run into mental health problems. When you aren’t mindful of yourself and how you feel, you become stressed, which can have numerous effects on your mental health. To take care of your mental health and lower your stress levels, it’s crucial to be mindful of your environment and how you feel and respond. This will help you be more at peace mentally and keep your brain feeling fresh.
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that:
“mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment”
Mindfulness Boosts Creativity
Not only does mindfulness help preserve your mental health, but it also nurtures your creativity. This can be especially important when you face challenges in your life, as creativity is a part of learning to overcome challenges. According to various studies, mindfulness has even been discovered to improve brain function and memory, which can also help an individual navigate the twists and turns of life more easily. And those who were more mindful in their everyday life didn’t tend to suffer the same memory loss issues later in life as those who weren’t mindful.
Mindfulness Keeps You Healthy
Besides just mental benefits, mindfulness also has several physical benefits for your body. It works to improve immune function so that you can stay healthy and fight off infections more quickly when you do get sick. One study even discovered that being more mindful increased enzyme activity in the body which slowed down the aging process. This means that mindfulness is scientifically a part of leading a longer, healthier life.
How to Practice Mindfulness
According to the world renowned Mayo Clinic, meditation is a simple and quick way to reduce stress. There are different ways to meditate and here are some recommended ones that are easy to do:
Guided meditation. Sometimes called guided imagery or visualization, with this method of meditation you form mental images of places or situations you find relaxing. You try to use as many senses as possible, such as smells, sights, sounds and textures. You may be led through this process by a guide or teacher.
Mantra meditation. In this type of meditation, you silently repeat a calming word, thought or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts.
Mindfulness meditation. This type of meditation is based on being mindful, or having an increased awareness and acceptance of living in the present moment. In mindfulness meditation, you broaden your conscious awareness. You focus on what you experience during meditation, such as the flow of your breath. You can observe your thoughts and emotions. But let them pass without judgment.
I find it easiest to pick a You Tube video of the many on offer which provide guided meditations such as this one:
Mindfulness is an integral part of leading a happy and healthy life, no matter how you look at it. Mindfulness helps to keep you mentally sane, boosts your creativity, and works in several ways to keep you physically healthy as well. So, if you want to live your best life, it’s time to start being more mindful today as a way of managing the gremlins of the midlife crisis. Go try it.