I want to be clear about one thing from the start – I am not graceful. So, if you’re reading this thinking that I can offer some tidbit about how to float through life like some ethereal movie star in a gown, easing her way down the red carpet, think again. I’m more of an expert on walking into perfectly stationary walls, banging my water glass into my already repaired front teeth or tripping over air.
I did however, turn 50 this year (yay me!!) and as a result have spent some time reflecting a bit more than usual about where I am in life and what I see around me as I watch friends, family and colleagues go through the inevitable aging process. So, here are some strategies that will help make the later chapters of your life fulfilling, vibrant, (maybe graceful) and hopefully lengthy;
- Don’t be an ass. So I feel like this is self-explanatory but let me just clarify a little since it sounds snarky. Life is too short to be mad and negative about a lot of stuff. Is there stuff to be cranky about? SURE! But you don’t have to choose to do so. If you do, it will shorten your life, minimize the number of people who want to be around you and make you have more wrinkles (from all that brow furrowing). Try this for developing a more positive outlook on things.
- Get some sleep, socialization and smiles – all these things are backed by research (sleep, socialization, smiles) to contribute to good health and longevity. Yes, sleep is difficult for some and many people have experienced traumas or conditions that might put smiling low on the list. But make a true effort to do the best you can to experience laughter, even if it’s hard sometimes. Don’t feel guilty about it, even if you are grieving or have someone around you who is struggling. You have a right to laugh and smile.
- Eat your veggies and fruit. Please don’t underestimate how much nutrition impacts mood, energy and illness prevention. Many of the ailments that develop as we age can be prevented or minimized with good nutrition, really. Even if you’ve lived on pizza (my fav) and chimichangas your whole life, it’s never too late to benefit from all the rich antioxidants and phytonutrients that come with wholesome, colorful and REAL food. Ease up on the boxed and packaged stuff and enjoy mother nature’s gift to us in edible plants.
- Move that fabulous body! Exercising with consistency is a struggle for me. I know it is for some of you too. But our bodies are made to move. Find ways to incorporate movement in your day. Even if it’s walking in place in your living room while watching your latest Netflix binge. You don’t need to excel in CrossFit – just move with regularity. It will help keep those joints working, ease pain, benefit your ticker and make you happier.
- Consider getting a wearable fitness tracker of some kind. Many work as if you have your own health coach by your side, prompting you to remember when you’ve been too sedentary or giving you that enthusiastic reminder not to forget about YOU (which we often do when juggling work, kids, parents and well…. life.)
- Don’t forget about your noggin. Read, learn a new skill, solve puzzles. Cognitive skills can decline with age and that can be really frustrating. Keep those neural pathways lit and active by challenging your brain with regularity. Doing so will contribute to feeling like you can keep up with the ever-evolving world around you
Aging can bring about feelings that our bodies and minds are betraying us. The good news is, we can do some things to prevent or reduce those feelings. It may be hard to think about incorporating all of the strategies above. If so, just pick one or two you’re not already practicing. Before you know it, you’ll be as balanced as a ballerina.