I find that feeling "old" is usually about feeling tired, unproductive, stressed or unhappy. Alleviating these problems alleviates the bad feelings of aging.
When I exercise I feel younger and stronger. It keeps the blood flowing and strengthens muscles, bones and your heart. I have more energy and move around more easily. Arthritis has a much harder time taking hold. Many forms of exercise strengthen your bones and make them less susceptible to osteoporosis. Exercise also lifts my mood. I know I’ve accomplished at least one thing today when I exercise. It’s doesn’t have to be grueling or competitive. Just talking a walk at lunch makes me feel better. But I have found the harder I work out the more I benefit in every way. It lifts my spirits and strengthens my body.
Water that is. Being dehydrated causes your skin to be dry and itchy. It makes you tired and lethargic. Drinking enough water everyday keeps your body hydrated and protects the health of your kidneys.
Eating nothing but sugar, fat and caffeine all day makes me ricochet between sugar highs, caffeine jitters and the crashes when they wear off. I’m either climbing the walls or slithering around like a slug. Eating quality proteins, complex carbs and healthy fats provides my body with a smooth and steady stream of energy and keeps my mind sharp.
4. Expose Yourself
When I was going to college there was a 70-something year old man attending at least one of my classes every semester. He was a retired Lutheran minister who "audited" two courses every semester. Auditing is provided by many college and community colleges. It allows you to sit in on a course without getting credits. You don’t take tests or complete homework, you merely sit in on the class. All the good things of a college course without the stress! He did this to expose himself to young people and new ideas. It certainly kept him alert and alive and as one of those kids, I loved having him in class. He brought a different perspective to things than the 50 other 20 year olds who were in class. We would spend hours talking with him and learning from him. And he said our the enthusiasm and joie de vivre of our youth kept him alive.
The other benefit of auditing college courses is that you are challenging your brain, which many researchers believe helps fight off diseases like Alzheimer’s. The secret is to challenge your brain to learn something completely new or different. If you never played a musical instrument, learn. If you never played a sport, learn. If you’re very weak in math, learn. If you never learned a second language, learn. A research study of nuns who specialized in mastering and teaching calculus well into their later years showed that they had a much lower level of Alzheimer’s in their population. A well developed language ability also seems to correlate with lowered levels of Alzheimer’s. The research suggests that any intellectually demanding work is the secret. We used to believe that the brain was static and did not respond to outside stimulation. We now know this is completely false. Our brains are very plastic and malleable and respond to what we expose them to. So sign up for a class and workout that brain. It will respond to exercise just like your heart, your muscles and your bones.
Humans are social creatures and we need to socialize. We need to connect with each other. How much each one of us needs to socialize is unique. Introverts need more quiet time. Extroverts need more time socializing. But we all need to be connected. Call an old friend you haven’t talked to in a long time. Take time to have a meal with your family. Meet someone for lunch. If it’s warm in your area, go to the park with friends or family and just enjoy being outside. If it’s cold, invite someone over for a home cooked meal and a sit by the fireplace. Turn off the TV, the cell phone, the computer or the headphones and engage with another human being – without interruption.
We are constantly bombarded with phones, computers, traffic, music and other noises. Schedule quiet time just to listen to the thoughts in your own head. Meditate. Sit at a corner cafe and watch the people go by. Read a book. Take a bubble bath. Stroll through the woods. Whatever you like to do to quiet your mind and make space for contemplation. It’s really nice to let your mind just wander around wherever it wants. It makes space for us to contemplate problems which are plaguing us, puzzle over things which perplex us, develop original ideas or generate unique solutions for old problems. Contemplation gives your brain the opportunity to see things from another perspective, to redefine old problems in new ways. Americans can be very goal oriented and may perceive this as "doing nothing". And that’s exactly right. That’s the point. Do nothing. Leave a big empty space for your mind to wander around it. You might be surprised with what it comes up with!