Aging is not a topic that most people worry about until they are in their late 30’s or 40’s. That seems to be the specific time period in our lives where we start to notice physical changes that we may or may not love. I remember waking up one day, looking in the mirror and thinking, “What in the world happened over night?” Of course I was being a bit melodramatic about the tiny laugh lines that I saw near the corner of my eyes, but that was the moment when I started to realize that I was aging and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Or so I thought.
I decided to investigate all of the ways that I could stop the whole aging process dead in its tracks. I am normally not much of a worrier and tend to just go with the flow, but not with this, I had become a world class worrier! Every little line or freckle began to make me think about how old I was getting and made me feel like I was losing the battle.
“Knowledge is power.” Everyone has heard that priceless little gem spoken to them before and I truly believe in those three words! Once I began reading and researching “aging gracefully” on the internet, I was quite shocked at how many easy, positive ways I found to help myself. The tables had turned and I found myself casting off the worrier role and assuming a warrior attitude instead.
Here is a list of my top 5 tips:
1. Eat a healthy diet. We hear this all the time and it seems like something we should do automatically everyday. The food pyramid clearly shows that fresh fruits and veggies are important for our health. Unfortunately, life can get hectic and healthy meals tend to get shelved in favor of meals that are convenient. If you’re like me and find yourself doing this more often than you would like, don’t worry, there are many options for you. I recently went into my local gas station for a coffee and found apples, bananas and even a tossed salad as lunch options. Take an extra minute to search out the healthy items because they are there for the taking. Realistically there will be times when you indulge a little and that is not a problem as long as you make as many healthy choices as you can during your everyday life.
2. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily. This is another one that we hear all the time but it is so very important. I must admit I am a chronic offender when it comes to drinking enough water. Being even mildly dehydrated can cause symptoms such as dry mouth, mild headaches, dizziness, dry skin, sleepiness and an increased heart rate. This is a no brainer and something that we should focus on every single day. Add some lemon or lime to help make water more refreshing if you struggle to drink enough of it.
3. Get a good night’s rest. I know, I know, you’re thinking about how that is even possible? There seems to be an endless list of things to do during the day and never enough time to do it all. We find ourselves staying up much later than we should trying to get it all done. Making a “to do” list in order of importance can help us to not worry so much about getting things done. Disconnect from electronics. It is a must in order to help our minds settle down and prepare for sleep. No Facebook or Twitter either. I just cringed a little saying that because I love posting just as much as the rest of my friends but it is such a necessary thing to do. I find that a couple of hours before I go to bed is sufficient enough time for me to start to relax.
4. Stay active. There are so many ways to stay active that I could not possibly list them all for you. If there is something that you love to do and it gets your heart pumping, then do it! Living in the Midwest can prove challenging to someone that loves to run or ride a bike but that should not stop you. When the weather acts up head to your local gym for a spin class, a weight class, boxing or just a good old fashioned run/walk on the treadmill. If those sound unappealing there are always classes like Zumba, step aerobics or even belly dance to get your heart pumping. Find what you love and just do it.
5. Have an attitude of gratitude. My question to that saying is, “How am I supposed to be grateful for laugh lines and all these gray hairs?” I actually posed that question to a group of four ladies who are all between the ages of 70-80. We were waiting for Tai Chi class to begin and got on the subject of aging. Of course I was worried about the wrinkles and the physical changes that take place. I was not even thinking about the fact that these ladies were living vibrant and fulfilling lives blissfully unperturbed by the aging process taking place within themselves. They taught me so much in that 15 minute discussion that I will be forever grateful to them. According to them, having an attitude of gratitude has everything to do with loving yourself for who you are and being mindful of each moment that we are given in this lifetime. It has nothing to do with your physical attributes. They were surprisingly funny when I asked about plastic surgery and other ways to enhance themselves to appear younger. None of them had done anything like that but they also harbored no unkind thoughts toward their friends that had. They were in agreement that when you look back upon your life you realize that true happiness cannot be achieved by looks alone, it must be achieved through happiness within yourself. When you have truly found happiness from within, it will radiate from you and everyone will see that. These ladies are definitely practicing what they preach because they all exude radiance in my honest opinion and they are obviously aging gracefully!
Even though another birthday is slowly creeping closer to me, I am going to actively focus on my attitude of gratitude. My warrior spirit has given me a level of determination that is at an all time high as far as eating healthy, getting enough sleep, staying active and remaining mindful of what is really important in life. As for those little lines that seem to be getting more prominent, I will make an effort to focus less on them and more on the happiness and resulting laughter that caused them in the first place. Just think about it the next time you look in the mirror, worrier or warrior on aging? I know which one I’m choosing.
Yours in health,