People don’t want to get older. In legends, people searched for the elixir of life and the fountain of youth, trying (and failing) to avoid the reality that time is passing. In modern times, we have a different way to slow down time – to varying levels of success. Antiaging creams, Botox, fillers, and plastic surgery are more popular than ever, and many of us turn to surgical fixes rather than embracing the aging process.
Celebrities – and regular folks – are expected to look the same (with the same waistline) at 55 as they did at 18, and it’s messing with our psyches. Even at only 25 years old, I find myself gazing longingly at photos of me at 16 and bemoaning the fact that I don’t wear the same size jeans as an actual child.
But what’s wrong with growing older? Why are we so obsessed with fighting the outward signs of aging?
Centuries ago, people were more than glad to develop gray hair and smile lines; it meant they had lived long enough to reach old age in the first place. Today, many people regularly dye their grays to hide them, as if these silver strands were a mark of shame. This isn’t to say that cosmetic fixes aren’t the answer: If you’ve discussed your concerns with your doctor and just don’t love what you see in the mirror, you’re free to pursue medical and/or cosmetic interventions. It comes down to what’s right for you and your situation – what IIN calls bio-individuality. And you can even embrace the life experiences that come with aging while struggling with body changes; it’s all normal.
We’ve never been more connected to the rest of the world, and with that comes new ways to compare ourselves to others. This wider view of the world is also clouded by filters, Photoshop, and photography tricks that have developed alongside social media platforms.
Age really is just a number; it’s what you do with the time that matters. The key to embracing your age is changing your mindset and allowing yourself to embrace a positive attitude toward aging. This may look like reciting affirmations, joining groups with other people your age, or reaching out to family and friends.
Even if you’re trying to embrace your age (internally or externally), it can still be a struggle when comparing yourself to others in your age group. Social media has changed the way we view ourselves and one another. If you’re fretting over crow’s-feet or mourning your lack of mobility, there are some things you can do to help keep yourself feeling young.
Older people are often retired, empty nesters, or both and realize they now have time to dedicate to exploring who they are, improving their health, and focusing on personal growth. “In general, our generation is getting wiser, and fewer people are opting out of medication to treat lifestyle diseases,” says IIN grad Annette Alfieri. “We’re exploring different modalities, adjusting our diets, and even working with Health Coaches. For people who weren’t always thinking about health, it’s at this age they start to realize that things are ‘falling apart’ more.”
Although keeping your body physically active as you get older can present some struggles, it’s extremely important. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults 65 and older should aim for at least two and a half hours of physical activity per week. The exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous, either: Low-impact workouts are a great way to keep active.
Keeping yourself well fed as you get older can also be a little tricky. “Our nutritional needs change as we get older, which impacts our physical activity needs, and I don’t think this is discussed enough,” says Jill Bauman, an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She explains that as a society, we need to explore the hormonal and physical toll that aging takes on those who experience it. Research has shown that filling your plate with a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds can lower the risk of disease and increase longevity.
Getting enough sleep
Older adults need around seven hours of sleep per night. These periods of sleep are sometimes shorter, lighter, or frequently interrupted. Conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis – which older people are more likely to experience – can also affect the quality and quantity of sleep. Check out these tips for optimizing your sleep.
Embracing time passed
Looking to minimize fine lines and wrinkles? Pay a visit to your dermatologist. They’re well equipped to handle any of your skin-care needs. Feeling anxious about the way your body is changing? Check in with a mental health professional. Loving yourself, no matter your age? That’s something only you can do for yourself.