We’ve all stood in front of the mirror at some point and thought “this isn’t me—I’m not that old”.
Aging gracefully and living a healthy lifestyle probably wasn’t something our grandparents worried that much about. But with modern medicine, people are living well into their twilight years, and some are still running marathons or weightlifting into their 70s—or older! Suddenly, making the transition to old age with some dignity feels much more important. The question is: what’s the best way to do this?
We’ve all read the general advice—drink plenty of water, exercise regularly, don’t smoke or drink, get enough sleep. While all these suggestions are simple, practical advice, there is more to aging gracefully than just staying hydrated and saying no to some of life’s temptations.
Learn to handle stress.
Everyone seems to have too much of it and no one really wants any of it. But, stress is here to stay, and it could have a major impact on the way we live, especially as we get older. Reducing stress is maybe one of the most important things you can do to help keep aging at bay.
Start by taking time for self-care and self-awareness, that is, being conscious of changing your perspective on the things around you. Someone cut you off in the car park. Is it worth it to get angry over this? Or would it be better to take a deep breath, find another park and just let it go? After all, is it probably not that big of a deal.
Another key aspect of stress is getting caught up in things we can’t control. Who hasn’t laid awake at night thinking about things like tomorrow’s work meeting, sorting out things you’ve been putting off (such as funeral insurance), or a fight with your spouse? Being mindful and building resilience are foundations on which stress reduction can be built. Being mindful ensures we are living in the moment, not worrying about what has been or about what could come. Resilience can work against stress and aging by helping us prepare for those obstacles that we will inevitably face.
Finding ways to effectively deal with the stress in your life could make it easier to deal with now and far into the future.
Embrace the small things.
Simplicity, especially as you get older, may play a significant role in how you think. “Less is more” is a big trend challenging how many people now view life, especially as they start getting older.
The popularity of organizing trends, such as Konmari, along with a rise in people valuing experiences over things is leading people of all ages to think a bit harder about what’s really important to them in life. A home that was once a shrine to the life you have lived—filled with trinkets from travels and family—might feel less important as the years go by.
While you don’t have to go full bohemian and embrace the tiny house revolution, simply decluttering your home could have a big impact on how you view life. It could give you the time and space to embrace everything life has to offer, whether that’s selling unneeded items to fund a dream holiday or just reminding yourself that time with the grandkids brings you more happiness than collecting baseball cards.
Do what makes you happy.
There is an old saying, “find a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life”. For most, a job is a means to an end. It gives us the financial security to support our families and hopefully live the life we choose. But for many of us, passing the magical milestone of turning 40 may cause us to start looking at our lives from a new perspective.
We may have worked most of our careers for necessity, but now desire to work for a purpose. While this may not be applicable for everyone in every profession, many would jump at the chance to do something more meaningful with their working days. Doing something you love and that makes you happy, could help your life take on new meaning as you get older. This might be volunteering, teaching, switching careers or going back to study. As long as it makes you happy, it will never seem like work!
Yes, exercise was on the list of general aging advice, but it really is an essential element into seeing our bodies through the next phase of life.
As you get older, exercise doesn’t have to mean becoming a triathlete or bench pressing our body weight. It might simply mean being active almost every day. Take up golf, join a walking club, join a morning yoga class or give Pilates a try. Engaging in regular physical exercise could do wonders for your body and mind and help counteract some of the aging processes. Whatever you do, your body will thank you for it.
Of course, as we get older, we may need to work with our doctors more when creating an exercise routine. They can give advice on how often you should be active and tips for dealing with old injuries (or avoiding new ones).
Whatever the next chapter of your life holds, try to embrace it. Aging with grace, dignity, and health may be tough, but a positive attitude could make it the best time of your life.