Enjoy this guest post by Suzanne Coblentz advocating common sense strategies for aging gracefully.
Aging is an inevitable part of human life. And yet some people approach the process with fear and trepidation, while others embrace each new day with unmatched optimism.
What distinguishes these two groups?
Many experts point to genetics, finances, and a whole range of external factors to explain this discrepancy. But anyone can age gracefully if they plan for success. By adopting a holistic approach to personal health, you can dramatically reduce both the signs and effects of aging.
The following is a simple checklist of do’s and don’ts to help you age gracefully, inside and out.
Mental Health Tips for Aging
You’ll probably feel the effects of aging in your body first. But the most important thing you can do right now is believe that positive change is possible. It doesn’t matter how old you are; it’s never too late to start leading a healthier lifestyle. Before you do anything else, make a firm commitment to follow the steps outlined below:
1. Don’t Ever Stop Learning
To reduce the mental effects of aging, never stop learning. Instead:
- Take on a new hobby
- Travel more often
- Pick up a crossword puzzle
- Learn a new subject
Even something as simple as switching hands when you brush your teeth can keep the neural synapses in your brain active.
2. Increase Your Social Interactions
The positive link between happiness and aging is well documented. In a landmark 2004 study, researchers discovered that those with an optimistic outlook had a 55 percent lower risk of dying over the course of the study, and a 23 percent lower risk of heart failure than pessimists did.
But how do you consciously increase happiness?
Recent research out of Harvard Medical School reveals that increased social interaction is one of the fastest ways to boost happiness levels. As social animals, we’re hardwired to seek communication, acceptance and belonging.
Some turn to Facebook and other networks for social support. But you can just as easily:
- Host more family gatherings
- Reconnect with long-lost friends
- Volunteer within your community
- Take on a group hobby (e.g., team sports)
The more social support you receive (and give), the happier you’ll become.
3. Meditate and Reflect
Another powerful way to boost happiness is through meditation. This doesn’t mean you have to become a reclusive monk. Just five or 10 minutes of peaceful reflection can do wonders for your optimism.
Many find that counting their blessings improves their outlook. By writing down three things you’re thankful for every day, you discover new sources of joy hiding in plain sight.
Physical Health Tips for Aging
With a well-focused (and happy) mind, tackling the physical aspects of aging becomes much easier. Let’s review some simple do’s and don’ts for the body.
1. Exercise Daily
Sitting still is the physical equivalent of not learning. Your body is a machine that must remain active. This means that the TV is not your friend. Neither is the couch, your favorite easy chair or the hammock.
Instead, exercise regularly. Thirty to 45 minutes of daily cardiovascular activity is ideal — even long walks can help get your blood circulating. Certain hobbies (such as gardening or bowling) offer the dual benefit of increased physical activity coupled with constant learning.
An important but often overlooked aspect of exercise is stretching. If you can’t join a yoga studio, try out these simple stretching exercises instead.
2. Sleep Well and Often
Physical activity is important, but never underestimate the rejuvenating effects of sleep. Some of the many benefits of regular rest include:
- Reduced stress
- Higher energy levels
- Faster memory recall
- Better concentration
- Increased immunity
- Healthier skin
- Fewer medical complications
Make sure your body gets a minimum of six and a half hours of sleep every night (eight hours is even better).
3. Eat Healthily
You are what you eat. The food you put in your mouth is what powers all of your physical and mental activities day in and day out.
With plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins in your system, you’ll have more positive energy than you ever thought imaginable. And if you regularly dine with friends and family, you’ll reap the benefits of increased social interactions as well.
Adopt a Holistic Approach to Health
There is no shortage of quick-fix anti-aging pills on the market. But what all of these solutions have in common is a failure to appreciate the holistic nature of your body and mind. Aging is a journey, not a destination.
By incorporating positive daily habits (like the ones outlined above), you can prolong the journey and reap cumulative rewards as you embrace a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.
Suzanne Coblentz is the Director of Offline and Social Media for Nava Health & Vitality Center. Nava Center aims to introduce all their clients to a new side of total body wellness.