Aging might be a natural part of the human experience but it isn’t always a happy part. Your attitude toward aging can affect the severity and speed of getting older.
North Carolina State University found that being upbeat in the face of challenges faced when aging made their participants more resilient and better equipped to cope with whatever life threw at them.
Some of the negative emotions experienced by the aging are no longer feeling useful, having less happiness than they had in their youth, and trepidation about the future.
Lead author of the study, Jennifer Bellingtier, NC State PhD, explained their results. “People in the study who had more positive attitudes toward aging were more resilient in response to stress. Study participants with a more negative attitude toward aging showed a sharp increase in negative emotional effect on stressful days.”
Stress stimulates rampant inflammation, the root cause of most known diseases. The ability to minimize or control stress’s effect on your body is critical. Once again, scientific results show that your mental and emotional state have a huge impact on your total physical health.
Senior author and associate professor, Shevaun Neupert, stated, “The way we think about aging has very real consequences for how we respond to difficult situations when we’re older. That affects our quality of life and may also have health ramifications. Adverse emotional responses to stress have been associated with increased cardiovascular health risks.”
Different cultures have varying attitudes toward aging and the way they think about the elderly.
If you live in a community that respects and cares for their aged citizens, you’re less likely to be stressed about the process. If you’re made to feel isolated or useless, even viewed as a burden for others to bear, it’s going to make the act of aging a negative experience for you.
These stark disparities are more noticeable – and common – in our modern world.
Changing Your Attitude toward Aging – Exercise
No matter your current health or living situation, you can take an active role in your life and happiness for all your remaining years.
Low-impact exercise will help you maintain your core strength, improve balance, and keep your bones strong. Staying active doesn’t mean you have to do push-ups every morning or enter a marathon. All exercise is beneficial!
If you have mobility, consider joining a tai chi or yoga class. Both have been proven to aid in balance and flexibility. They don’t jostle the joints or require speed. The movements are controlled and the atmosphere is peaceful. A relaxed walk in your neighborhood or water aerobics are other low-impact choices that will change how you feel mentally and physically.
For those who aren’t as steady on your feet, you can engage in something called chair aerobics. These are also great for men and women who sit all day behind a desk or someone working their way back from an injury or illness.
When you stop moving, it affects your emotional state as much as your physical condition. If you can exercise, you need to incorporate it into your daily life for 15-30 minutes. You’ll be so glad you did!
Changing Your Attitude toward Aging – Diet
One of the processes of aging is slower production of key vitamins and minerals. It is absolutely critical that you choose a colorful plate of fruits and veggies, fewer carbs, less sugar, complete proteins, and healthy fats. Don’t forget water!
Focusing on an anti-inflammatory diet is going to help slow down the aging process at the cellular level by turning down the heat.
Changing Your Attitude toward Aging – Independence
This is probably the biggest challenge for many people my age. No one wants to feel as if they’re a burden to their spouse, children, or friends. I’ve seen many people gradually withdraw from social situations and events because they feel they contribute nothing.
That’s no way to live.
Keeping your mind active and engaged every single day of your life is crucial to both health and happiness. You don’t have to enroll in college courses (though I’ve seen many aged persons take up the mantle of higher education) but reading, writing, board games, or puzzles help to keep all the neurons firing!
Just because you’ve gained a few extra decades doesn’t mean you’re done.
I’m possibly more active in my seventh decade than I was in my third. There is much to be done, to experience, to feel. As long as you are waking up, as long as your heart is beating, that’s your cue to embrace life in every way you can.
You’ve Earned Your Stripes
There’s a freedom to being my age that I never expected. I don’t apologize for how I spend my time because I do what fills me with passion – personally and professionally.
I make every minute count because whether you’re 17 or 70, a set amount of time isn’t guaranteed to any of us.
By embracing a positive attitude toward aging, you accept yourself entirely. It allows you to look behind you with a fond smile and stare determinedly at your future. The person you are isn’t “finished” because you have wrinkles, liver spots, a cane, or a dozen prescriptions on your nightstand.
This minute, right now, is still life in the making. Don’t waste it.