I was discussing the concept of embracing the aging process with a colleague the other day and she noted how youth obsessed we are as a society. It’s a topic I’ve been reflecting on a lot lately with clients, with my husband and my friends. Perhaps it’s because of where I am in life and where many of my peers are as we raise our children to young adults and see our own parents entering the late years of life.
I realize that, sadly, women and girls in particular are conditioned to believe that time slowly erodes our worth and saps our appeal.
We are taught that the aging process is something to fight rather than embrace.
Just look at the kind of language that’s used in your average cosmetics commercial; “Fight the signs of aging”, “declare war on wrinkles”. The idea of growing old gracefully in such a climate may seem borderline impossible.
Everywhere we look we see evidence of the advertising industry (with a few notable exceptions) using youth as a visual shorthand for happiness. Everywhere we look we see images of airbrushed youthful perfection taunting our every fine line, every gray hair and each ounce of body fat.
We’re encouraged to live in a perpetual state of self loathing unless the mirror reflects back whatever is our idea of perfection. We’re taught that the aging process is not inevitable or natural but a condition that must be fought as though it were an illness or disease.
In this cultural milieu, is it any wonder that 81% of Americans admit to feelings of Gerascophobia (diagnosable as a specific phobia of growing old).
The good news is you can liberate yourself from the anxiety you feel when it comes to the aging process. You can rise above self-consciousness or embarrassment. No surgery or serums required. The shift begins between your ears with cognitive restructuring or recalibrating your thoughts about the aging process..
One of the best ways to overcome anxiety is to face the facts and determine what you CAN control rather than focus on what can feel like the run-away train of the aging process.
Here are some ways you can take charge of in your life and embrace the aging process.
The more you worry about aging, the faster you’ll age!
It’s official. Worrying about the aging process actually causes you to age faster. Ruminating is a stressful process and stress forcibly ages your cells. The more you worry, the faster you’ll age. So, embracing the aging process is perhaps the most effective anti aging serum.
The lifestyle choices you make now can support your whole health as you grow older
We worry that as we age we will lose control of our mental faculties, perhaps falling victim to Alzheimer’s or dementia. We worry that our memories will start to deteriorate and that slowly our sense of who we are will start to follow. For those who have a family history of dementia and have seen the ravages of this terrible illness first hand, this can be a particular source of anxiety. But while family history may well be a risk factor, that’s not to say that your fate is written in your genetic code.
You are what you eat.
Your diet plays a huge part in this. In fact, there are few better antidotes to many of your aging anxieties than ensuring that each and every meal you enjoy today is packed full of nutritious veggies which are packed with the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals you need for a healthy body and mind long into old age.
Just as it’s essential to eschew smoking and drinking to ensure a healthy brain for life, it’s also important to steer clear of saturated fats and sugary or salty processed foods. Eating lots of green veggies will ensure that you get loads of essential vitamin B9 and folate to ensure great cognitive function now and forever.
Legumes such as beans and peas are great clean protein sources that can improve neurological activity and cruciferous green vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts lower your levels of homocysteine which is linked to cognitive impairment and needs to be kept under control for healthy brain function.
Care for your skin with all natural products.
Your skin is the largest organ of your entire body. What you put on your skin affects your whole health. Avoid products that contain chemicals and opt for products that are all natural.
Move your body everyday.
We all know cardiovascular exercise is important but did you know that your cardio can aid the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your brain and eliminate plaque buildup in the brain? And that’s important because when plaque builds up in your brain known to be a common cause of dementia. You don’t have to run a marathon every day to fend off this threat. A brisk walk or a jog every day is enough.
Assisted living isn’t giving up on life.
Many of us worry that we may reach an age where we’ll no longer be able to live independently and will spend our autumn years in an assisted living facility. But as you can see from these assisted living choices, assisted living is far from the end of your life, it’ may just be the beginning of a new chapter. You’ll not only enjoy the quality of care and support you deserve, you’ll enjoy good food, a clean, safe and secure living environment and a better social life than you’ve had since your dorm years. Assisted living should be viewed as a reward for your years of hard work rather than an admission that your life as you knew it is over.
Growing old doesn’t mean diminished beauty.
Finally, in an era that seems to celebrate vanity where Kim Kardashian can make money from a book of her selfies, it’s worth remembering that getting older doesn’t mean diminished beauty. There are many ageless Hollywood beauties who have shown us that age is just a number and that you can continue to be glamorous well into your sixties and Arnold Schwarzenegger has demonstrated time and time again that you can still rock a Mr Universe body at seventy.
Beauty truly radiates from within.
When you see and hear those messages that tell you the lines in your face are something to be abhorred, bring your thoughts to focusing on the glow of joy, life and beauty that you have inside and envision that glow emanating through your skin and out into the world. Focus on gratitude for how your body carries your spirit around and how your brain is able to do so many miraculous things without direction. Choose to focus on the miracle of every day life and your beauty as a human being will forever shine.