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Try Gardening or Meditation to Help Relieve Stress

May 3 is National Garden Meditation Day, so in that spirit, we will touch on the benefits of gardening and meditation for seniors as well as for those who have recently lost a loved one and need a way to relieve stress. For those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, counseling, workshops, support groups and memorial services are all effective components of bereavement services offered through Pathways Home Health and Hospice. And home health care support services are also great for those who are homebound due to ill health in San Mateo. However, healing and stress relief comes in many different forms. Gardening and meditation are two effective ways to stay healthy and gain a fresh perspective.

National Garden Meditation Day is observed every year on May 3rd — offering a time to forget about everything else, take some time for yourself, relax and meditate. Meditation doesn’t always have to take place cross-legged on the floor in a dark room. Working in the garden, tending to the plants and flowers or resting quietly on a bench all count as meditation because they are restorative to the soul and a refreshing way to embrace nature.

Benefits of Gardening for Seniors

From exposure to vitamin D to depression prevention, the benefits of being outdoors in the fresh air being productive in a garden are many — especially for seniors who may be homebound and don’t get a chance to venture outside very often. Let’s take a look at the top benefits:

  • Exposure to vitamin D: Everyone needs Vitamin D, especially older adults, as it boosts calcium levels. This helps strengthen the bones and immune system. A study appearing on the National Institutes of Health website revealed that exposure to sunlight helped older adults get adequate vitamin D levels. That means that outdoor activities like gardening are an ideal way to bask in the sunshine while enjoying a hobby. Just make sure your loved one remembers to put on sunscreen before heading out as well as sunglasses to protect their eyes.
  • Decreased dementia risk: A 2006 study found that gardening could lower risk of dementia by about 36 percent. Researchers found that physical activity, particularly gardening, can cut down on the incidence of dementia for aging adults.
  • Mood-boosters: A Netherlands study found on CNN suggests gardening combats stress even better than other hobbies. Participants engaged in a stressful task and then were instructed to read inside or go outside to garden for a half hour. The gardening group said they were in a much better mood, with blood tests revealing lower levels of stress hormones.
  • Aerobic exercise: You may not realize it, but gardening is an aerobic exercise that’s actually enjoyable because you don’t even realize you’re working hard. Reaching down, pulling weeds, lifting tools…you’re using new muscles to achieve your tasks, which helps with anything from flexibility to stamina to core strength.
  • Combat loneliness: Older adults often struggle with loneliness after retirement, as they experience fewer and fewer opportunities to socialize. When belonging to a community garden, for example, seniors can meet other like-minded folks, collaborate on a common project and join together in a goal.
  • Healthy eating: Cultivating fresh produce all season long means your senior can enjoy the fruits of their labor. Homegrown food is not only healthier, it’s tastier too. This can bring family and friends together to prepare freshly made meals.

Benefits of Meditation for Seniors and the Grieving

Meditation can benefit anyone, young or old, but it has particularly high healing properties for those who are aging and those who are grieving. It can:

  • Slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s: This progressive illness is prevalent among aging individuals, destroying memory and disrupting crucial mental functions. Recent studies have found that meditation and breathing exercises can help slow down the development of diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Mindfulness can also protect our brains from the adverse effects of anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Enhance digestion: Deep, controlled breathing is part of meditation, which in turn can improve circulation around the body and increase our blood oxygen levels.
  • Develop a sharper mind: Meditation can improve mental alertness, strengthening regions in the brain responsible for self-awareness, personality development, and planning. The result? Better focus, creativity, and cognitive function.
  • Enhance mood: Seniors often feel lonely, depressed and abandoned. Meditation can help them manage those negative feelings and increase positive emotions, enhancing overall mood.
  • Promote calm feelings: Seniors, just like anyone else, need to take a break from it all and just breathe. Meditation calms the nerves, refocuses the mind, and recharges our batteries so we can gain a clearer perspective on life.
  • Gain acceptance: Particularly for those facing the recent loss of a loved one, meditation can help cope with that loss and gain acceptance more quickly. Releasing that grief, even a little bit for short periods of time, can help us form a connection to our loved one and get peace knowing they are no longer in pain.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

If you have a senior loved one who has been struggling with inactivity or depression and want to know more about how we can help, call Pathways Home Health and Hospice at 888-755-7855. If you have recently lost a loved one, take comfort in knowing we offer a variety of bereavement services, such as support groups and workshops, to ease your pain.