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They say that age is all in the mind.
We start hearing these words as we approach our 40s and 50s.
Except, there are enough advertisements for Botox treatments, age defying serums, and face packs to challenge that statement. According to society, looks do matter to most of us.
Yet many of us are no longer ready to cater to expectations of how we can fit in a society’s mold. We want to be ourselves and also look good. We want to try leaving grey streaks in our hair, to have glowing skin accentuated by wrinkles—to show that we’ve faced life, yet we are not wilted by its harsh experiences.
We want to flaunt the curves and grace that life experiences have given, but we also want to have the confidence to sport a figure-hugging dress for dinner.
But as we get older, we realize that our metabolism is not kicking as it did earlier. Then, we were able to kick the ball in the air too easily. Not anymore.
As bone density decreases, so is there a decrease in our happy hormones. We are at a stage where we have financial autonomy, but the strings pulling us in all directions are myriad too. And there is a long list of things to do as responsibilities have increased. Professionally, personally, and socially.
So, how do we meet the two ends of spectrum?
Taking care of ourselves means that we are at tandem with our emotional, physical, and spiritual self.
We need to have a self-care plan, more so as we age.
Do some sort of physical exercise.
Walking, as we get older, is the best form of exercise as it releases happy hormones and is not rough on the ligaments and muscles of the legs. Swimming or yoga also have their positive impact. Walking in nature brings its own added advantage of being able to practice mindfulness, soak in the positive energy of nature, and have a spiritual space to connect with oneself. The Japanese practice of forest bathing is practiced by many.
Another self-care practice is gardening.
Contact with the soil bacteria mycobacterium vaccae releases the happy chemical serotonin. When we are gardening, we are again bending, digging, and planting. This is a gentle form of physical exercise, and touching and smelling the plants and flowers is a form of practicing mindfulness.
As we get older, we have to become careful of what’s going in our bodies.
What goes in gets deposited as layers on our bodies. We begin to realize that fast food accumulates quickly as our metabolism fails to come to our rescue anymore. An added advantage of gardening—particularly vegetables—is that it makes us more mindful of what we are putting in our bodies. Eating locally grown food devoid of preservatives makes our bodies feel vibrant and healthy.
It’s worth noting as well that the intake of nicotine and caffeine is going to be displayed on the body and skin. Restricting or limiting it is prudent.
Sleep is the new gold as we get older.
Erratic sleep habits and sleep deprivation can cause long-term harm to our health. Creating a defined sleep routine, including putting away electronic media at least an hour before going to bed, practicing some meditative chanting, or reading a light book can help. (No mysteries or thrillers before going to bed.)
Let go of hurts, anger, and negativity.
Anger is more dangerous for the one who holds it in, than the one toward whom it’s directed.
One of the best forms of self-care as we age is to practice gratefulness. A study on happiness conducted by Harvard University mentions “being grateful” as an important ingredient to being happy. It’s because when we are grateful, we appreciate and enjoy what we have rather than striving for more and more.
Aging should be like a high-quality wine, which gets exquisite with every added year—with our experiences of facing life squarely, with winning some and losing some.
Wear an orange dress, flowers, and a bright red lipstick as long as you feel like it. Wear a bikini on sun-kissed beaches, too. Even if you are 70 or more.
Embrace aging’s wholesomeness—and care for yourself as you do so.