Unlocking positivity with mindfulness

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Certain characteristics of mindfulness appear more strongly evident in older people compared to younger people, say healthy ageing researchers at Flinders University.

However, the researchers have found ways in which we can all benefit from mindfulness at any age.

Behavioural Scientist Associate Professor Tim Windsor says, “This suggests that mindfulness may naturally develop with time and life experience.”

Characteristics that tend to increase as we get older including the ability to focus on the present moment and to approach experiences in a non-judgmental way.

Mindful techniques can be instrumental in reducing stress and promoting psychological outcomes.

Researchers assessed participants’ mindful qualities such as present-moment attention, acceptance, non-attachment and examined the relationships of these qualities with wellbeing more generally.

“We found that positive relationships between aspects of mindfulness and wellbeing became stronger from middle age onwards,” says study lead author, Leeann Mahlo.

“Our findings suggest that if mindfulness has particular benefits later in life, this could be translated into tailored training approaches to enhanced wellbeing in older populations.”

Tips to develop mindful techniques include:

  • Becoming aware of your thoughts and surroundings and paying attention to the present moment in an open and nonjudgmental way. This can prevent us from focusing on the past or worrying about the future in unhelpful ways.
  • Understanding that our thoughts, feelings and situations exist in the moment and will not last. This can help exercise optimistic ways of thinking.
  • Finding out more about mindfulness via app-based programs such as Calm, Headspace, Insight Timer, Smiling Mind, and Stop, Breathe & Think.

The article, ‘Older and more mindful? Age differences in mindfulness components and well-being’ by Leeann Mahlo and Tim D Windsor has been published online in Aging and Mental Health (Taylor & Francis Online).