For Seniors, Nothing Can Be Key to Living Well

For Seniors, Nothing Can Be Key to Living Well

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senior-man-doing-nothingAre you all stressed out and do not know what to do about it? Do nothing!

January 16, 2015 is Nothing Day, an annual event that celebrates doing nothing. As it turns out, taking an occasional break from a busy lifestyle is essential to living well.

Proposed in 1972 by columnist Harold Pullman Coffin, it is a day when Americans can kick back, relax, and not worry about celebrating, honoring, or observing anything. There are no special decorations for the event, nor are there any traditional Nothing Day dishes to serve or costumes to wear. The only required activity is lounging around in your favorite chair.

Living well has never been so easy!

Doing Nothing is Important to Living Well.

Advancing age impairs the immune system’s defense mechanisms, leaving the body less able to fight off infections as we grow older. The aging body is also less able to respond effectively to inflammation associated with age-related conditions, such as arthritis, the plaque buildup of atherosclerosis, frail bones resulting from osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and some types of cancer. Scientists also believe that chronic stress has an adverse effect on the immune system, accelerates the aging process, and can even impact how well the body responds to vaccines.

A perfect reason to celebrate this quirky holiday!

Those who provide senior care to others can also benefit from participating in Nothing Day. The stress caregivers experience each day may delay wound healing and even shorten lifespan in addition to decreasing the overall quality of life for the caregiver.

Taking One Day to Do Nothing Can Provide a Variety of Health Benefits.

Relaxation can ease symptoms of stress by slowing your heart rate, lowering your blood pressure, decreasing your breathing rate and calming the activity of stress hormones. While exercise is usually the best medicine for your muscles, occasional relaxation can stimulate blood flow to major muscles and relax muscle tension to alleviate chronic pain. Resting also helps resolve fatigue.

Regular rest breaks should be part of every senior care program, as relaxation is also good for mental health. Taking an occasional break improves concentration and mood, diffuses anger and frustration, and boosts confidence in a way that helps you solve the problems that stress you out.

Doing nothing is a relatively safe approach to living well, as long as it is done in moderation. One day a week or month when you take the opportunity to just sit back and relax can be a wonderful way to decompress. A lifestyle that focuses on doing nothing, however, can quickly become unhealthy, increasing your risk for obesity, weak muscles and other disorders.

Only the Well-prepared Can Truly Do Nothing on January 16.

You can get ready for Nothing Day by clearing your schedule of all appointments. Prepare meals in advance to avoid cooking. Throw your favorite sweat pants or pajamas in the laundry the day before so you can lounge around in clean, comfortable clothing.

Practice relaxation techniques, such as such as progressive relaxation, guided imagery, biofeedback, self-hypnosis and deep breathing exercises, to use on Nothing Day. Each of these techniques produces the body’s natural relaxation response, which includes slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and an overall feeling of calmness and well-being. Relaxation techniques counteract many of the ill effects of stress, such as poor sleep, increased pain and emotional arousal.

You do not have to engage in advanced relaxation techniques to get the most out of living well— sometimes it is beneficial to just sit and watch movies all day.

Start preparing now for the next Nothing Day so you can fully embrace a day of rest and relaxation, even if just for one day. Your body and your brain will thank you for doing nothing at all.

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Bryan Reynolds
January 15, 2015
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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