Aging is inevitable. From the moment of birth, we are growing older. And at some point, we may sit up and take notice, admitting to ourselves, “I am not who I once was.”
And who I see in the mirror reinforces for me that I am an older person, not even considered middle-aged. This recognition usually happens if and when we notice the deeper wrinkles, the sagging body parts, the spread of the waistline, the hair that is thinner and/or grayer, and that our energy level has sunk.
But all does not have to be fully lost. There are interventions one can take. The vast anti-aging industry wants to sell us products and services of every sort with promises to look and feel younger — well, maybe not younger, but better.
We can pick and choose how much to invest in maintaining whatever level of physical attractiveness we decide upon, but it does take a financial and energetic commitment to hold back the hands of time. Or, one can decide, “Forget it. I am fine with growing old, just letting nature take its course and have its way with me. And besides, ‘Beauty is an inside thing.’”
The truth is for most of us aging boomers, and those beyond, we might pay more attention to “the growing-old situation” and take charge (when possible) of how we look and how we feel. Self-care is as important as medical care, and the older we get, the more is required of us. We may choose to develop better eating habits and exercise at least five days a week — yes, that is the latest recommendation. Addressing “the stress” is equally crucial if we want to age well.
These self-improvement goals are achievable when there is commitment, and sometimes with the help of a professional like a nutritionist or a trainer or a yoga instructor.
Our posture is often a key giveaway to being old. When our mothers nagged us to “stand up straight,” she was onto something, because poor posture, both seated and standing, leads to all kinds of problems: back, shoulder and neck aches; poor balance, which can lead to serious falls; and digestive problems. Changing the bad-posture habit requires awareness and practice and a strong desire to change.
How to avoid becoming old in our attitudes and our behaviors is often within our control. Here are some suggestions:
Stay flexible in your thinking. Rigidity in the mind (and the body) is to be avoided, while being open to seeing and/or doing things a bit differently is beneficial. Notice where your way of thinking and doing is habitual. Do you always prefer to stay in your comfort zone, doing the same thing in the same way over and over, never taking a risk, and thereby preventing a different and fresher approach?
Cultivate new friendships, especially if you have lost your best friends. Add on new activities that may make you happy, things you have always wanted to do. Now, there is more time to explore a musical instrument, learn a foreign language, explore your creativity through art or dance or drama, do more traveling ... whatever brings a smile to your face.
Stay current rather than living in the past. “The good old days” may be sadly missed, but they are gone. It is far better to remain in the present, and continue to be curious while you further develop yourself into who you really are, your true authentic self.
Check your wardrobe, and consider your image. Might you look more youthful with the right clothes and hairstyle? Easy changes can be made in how we appear to others, and especially to ourselves. If we look better, we probably will feel better.
Be aware of your conversations. What is it you talk about to friends and family? While it may be helpful to vent or seek advice about things that trouble you (getting old, feeling unwell, the bad service, the weather, politics, or gossip you have heard and are passing on), it does bring forth negativity. Instead, you may want to keep a journal to write about your complaints and then practice sharing, for the most part, only the good news.
Focus each day on gratitude. The Law of Attraction reminds us that complaining leads to more things to complain about and gratitude leads to more things to be grateful for.
Forgive yourself, and others, for the flaws you see. We are all less than perfect; we are all human.
Angelena Craig teaches slow-flow yoga and chair yoga and organizes yoga retreats to Negril, Jamaica. Contact her through www.anewagingmovement.com.