Whether we like it or not, we all age.
Our bodies change daily, and no amount of fitness, creams, botox, prayer, denial, or surgery can stop the relentless march of time’s effects on the body. We are lucky to live in an age where our lives have been extended through better nutrition and medical care, but that longevity brings with it greater rates of cancer, Alzheimer’s and other age-related illnesses.
But it doesn’t have to be all bad—in fact, each new year can be the best year yet. George Burns, a man who lived however he damn well pleased, once said, “You can’t help getting older. But you don’t have to get old.” Age is nothing more than a number. While the mirror states the obvious fact that you are no longer twenty, and there are some things that can’t be changed, there is no reason to throw in the towel and accept a slower, pain-filled life as ‘just my age.’
During the month of September, refocus on Healthy Aging, and change your mindset to make each new year the most amazing one you’ve experienced. Read on for five tips to help you age gracefully and gratefully.
Get Out of the Zone
Nothing makes you feel old like doing the same thing day in and day out, over and over again. Get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Do something new. Do something that scares you—however you look at it, it’s important to shake things up and keep your awareness fresh, and your curiosity piqued. Volunteer, travel, intern somewhere, take a class—do something you haven’t done (and that makes you feel a little uncomfortable) and enjoy that newfound energy and engagement in life.
Just like it’s important to exercise your muscles, your brain needs a daily dose of training, too. Stave off the effects of degenerative diseases and stay fresh with crosswords, reading, puzzle-solving and even dance classes. Dance challenges both the body and the mind—a double whammy of benefits!
Work it Out
As with any age, exercise is key. A good combination of cardio, strength training and yoga and/or Pilates will keep the body limber and help to counter the effects of muscle loss from aging. Besides, nothing feels better than passing the Millennials on the trail because you’re in better shape than them.
Stop Putting it Off
Schedule those doctor’s visits. No one likes to get a colonoscopy—NO ONE. But that’s no reason to avoid it. Schedule your physicals. Get the exams you know you need to get. Make sure your insides are as healthy as your outsides and don’t allow laziness or fear to get in the way of catching something early that can be treated.
Keep True to the Dreams of Thy Youth
It’s never too late to do anything—try a new career; learn a new skill; go somewhere you’ve dreamed of. “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream,” as C.S. Lewis has told us. There is zero reason why this can’t be your Golden Age. Stop allowing yourself to fall in a rut because you ‘missed your chance.’ Embrace your place in life and put your hard-earned wisdom to use.
Most importantly, stay positive. Your life is not over—you have so much still to do! It’s another quote, but sometimes things are easier to hear from those who have experienced it. David Bowie reminds us that “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”
Celebrate finding yourself and give yourself kudos for having done the work to get there. Ignore the number and feel your age inside—the age you want to be—and how you want to feel it. There is no right and wrong. Dress how you want. Do the things you’ve put off. Show the younger generation all there is to look forward to. Make them eager to get to where you are—you have the extraordinary power to inspire those younger than you, and “with great power comes great responsibility.” We’re watching!