How Yoga Helps Improve Senior Citizens’ Mental Health

Rejection. Isolation. Mood swings. Low self-esteem. A feeling of loneliness. A sense of helplessness.

As humans age, a lot of negativity creeps into the mind, especially during the retirement years. It is not unnatural, but what might seem like a harmless mood swing could soon turn into a lingering state of mind, eventually becoming a serious mental problem.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as “the subjective well-being, perceived efficacy, autonomy, competence, inter-generational dependence and self-actualization of one’s emotional and intellectual potential.”

Of course, you will find lots of similar definitions by different people and organizations online, but they all effectively mean the same thing. We all know the importance of staying motivated, feeling wanted and having peace of mind. When we are at ease, we call it being in a great ‘state of mind’. However, your mental health can take a hit as you start ageing (for several different reasons) and this, in turn, can lead to bigger problems.

Mental health problems in old age

Let us take a look at some of the most common types of mental disorders that people encounter post the age of 55 years:

• Depression

• Cognitive impairment or dementia

• Anxiety

• Neuropsychiatric disorders

Here are some potential triggers to look out for:

• Illnesses

• Disability

• Substance abuse

• Financial loss

• Loss of a loved one

• Change of environment

12 symptoms of mental health problems

1. Changes in appetite levels

2. Social withdrawal

3. Inexplicable fatigue

4. Changes in sleep patterns

5. Mood swings

6. Disorientation or confusion while doing mundane tasks

7. A long-lasting feeling of insignificance

8. Thoughts of suicide

9. Memory retention problems

10. Loss of focus

11. Inability to make decisions

12. Low self-esteem

How to help seniors cope with mental illnesses

Depression, anxiety, mood disorders, cognitive impairment, and dementia can rapidly affect the well-being of senior citizens, so it is essential that you take the necessary steps to address such issues.

If you know someone who shows one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, it is important that you seek help. Doctors, counselors and mental health experts like psychiatrists and psychologists can help diagnose the root cause and help you gauge how serious the problem is.

George Bernard Shaw once said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”

We couldn’t possibly put it in better words! The importance of staying physically, mentally and spiritually active is undeniable; more so in the later stages of life. And while exercising and indulging in sports is something that we highly recommend, it might not be possible for senior citizens to do so on a regular basis. Yoga, in such cases, is a great way to activate your mind and body, consciously steering clear of any negative thoughts or feelings and relaxing the body.

Yoga therapy for mental health patients

Yoga has been a widely-acknowledged means of helping humans relax their mind and body. A dynamic Indian form, yoga has been closely associated with connecting the mind, body, and soul. And if you have had any doubts about the effectiveness of yoga, let us take a look at some of the unarguable benefits of practicing yoga:

• Improving balance and stability

• Dealing with health problems

• Augmenting respiratory function

• Slowing down the ageing process

• Elevating the mood (especially for seniors)

• Improving focus and concentration

• Enhancing motor skills

• Driving fatigue away

• Improving the functioning of vital organs

• Increasing an individual’s cognitive abilities

• Reducing stress and depression

• Improving bone health

• Relaxing the body and delivering peace of mind

• Regulating the blood flow

• Improving flexibility and strength

We recommend reading BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga, a fantastic guide to the art and science of yoga.

For ages, yoga has been known to help individuals attain a state of sustained physical, mental and spiritual well-being. What’s more, practicing yoga on a regular basis can do wonders to a senior citizen’s state of mind.

When it comes to addressing issues like the ones mentioned above, the effect of yoga on mental health is superior to most other forms of therapies. An immensely therapeutic form of exercise and relaxation, yoga is perhaps the single most effective ways of dealing with a range of physical and mental health issues. The various asanas or positions, when done correctly and regularly, can deliver incredible results.

So, what are you waiting for? Get yourself an anti-slip yoga mat and get started – you can thank us later!

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