Ageing shouldn’t be something you dread. In fact, like a fine wine you only get better with time and here’s why...
There’s no need to buy into the myth of middle age – the stereotype that beyond 40 you’re confined to a life of slippers and watching the soaps. Just because your years increase, it shouldn’t mean your quality of life has to decrease. Yet, unfortunately, this isn’t an attitude we all share. New data from Ossur Webshop (ossurwebshop. co.uk) reveals that three quarters of the UK are not looking forward to growing older, associating it with illness, memory loss, aches and pains. Good news! A change in your mindset could be all you need. “Ageing is obligatory, growing old isn’t,” says life coach Michelle Zelli (michellezelli.com). “There are so many wonderful things about the advancing years. It’s important to focus on the positives and how to nurture our oftenchanging passions. Often this is the first period of life where we have the time and patience to focus on exploring our inner creative self. Perhaps you’ve always fancied having a go at writing a book, painting with watercolours, or even having a marvellously messy time at the pottery wheel. No longer are we out to impress anyone, except ourselves.” So, here are 11 ways to love and embrace your age.
“One way of approaching age and getting older with vigour is to keep working,” says Natasha Oppenheim, CEO of No Desire To Retire (nodesiretoretire.com). “Research from the Institute of Economic Affairs shows that retirement increases the probability of suffering from clinical depression by about 40 percent. There are lots of benefits to working later in life, such as a reduced likelihood of feeling lonely and, of course, increasing your income. Having a job, full-time or part-time, or even volunteering, can help you embrace the next stage in your life and feel younger!”
“At a younger age you’re still trying to gauge your value against other people’s beauty and success,” says life coach Elisabetta Franzoso (elisabettafranzoso.com). “Yet, self-esteem can really increase as we age. We have less anxiety about impressing others and stop looking outside for validation.”
Ageing well has been at the heart of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for over 4,000 years, so you could say that TCM practitioners are knowledgeable on the subject! “Lifestyle advice is the most important part of this practice,” says Chinese medicine expert and acupuncturist Philly Gammel (goodzing.com). “Eating according to your body type, your temperature and your age, taking enough rest (for example, lying down after lunch for 20 minutes in order for the blood to return to the liver), not exercising too much or too vigorously (so as not to damage your blood), meditation and walking are just a few examples of methods used to stay younger. To discover your own personal anti-ageing routine it’s best to see a TCM expert, as everyone is different and a personal diagnosis is invaluable.”
Although many may associate ageing with loneliness, it’s a great opportunity to meet new people. “After years spent looking after children or chasing the next promotion, you now have time for things that you’ve perhaps neglected,” says psychiatrist Dr Andy Macaulay (cardinalclinic.co.uk). “This is the time to start establishing new friendships, which are about you and not necessarily about people who are friends through circumstance, such as school gate friends or colleagues.”
There’s less pressure to conform or care about latest trends in older age. “As you mature, you start realising that you don’t have to apologise for who you are,” says Elisabetta. “You can do what you want and need, without having to justify yourself or feel like you’re being selfish.”
Romance gets better with age. “Several studies have shown that we can have more satisfying sex in later life, and more frequently than we might have thought,” explains Elisabetta. “At this stage in our lives, we’re far more experienced and comfortable with ourselves. We’re confident about expressing our desires and needs, and most importantly, we know what our desires and needs are.”
“Try listing all the qualities you possess as a person now, which you didn’t have 10 years ago, and reflect on the experiences, whether negative or positive, that led you there,” says wellness and life coach Maria Banobre (goodzing.com). “This should emphasise all the benefits that time has given you.”
“As well as having more time for ourselves and for our passions, we also have the opportunity to focus and prioritise our health,” says Elisabetta. “For those who are willing to get physical, or have maintained their health over the years, the 40s and beyond are an excellent time to get fit and see what we’re really made of. Let’s not forget that time Jane Fonda published her book on aerobics aged 40!”
Chances are you’ll be emotionally stronger in your later years. Psychology professor Laura Carstensen carried out a study that shows negative emotions, such as sadness, anger and fear, become less pronounced with age. Stress and worry steadily decline after your teenage years and reach their lowest point around the 85-year mark.
“This is a great time to attend university and change the course of your life,” says Elisabetta. “For some women who may have had children young, age provides the opportunity to go back and do what they couldn’t in their 20s – study! It might be just the change you need to inspire a new passion.”
Another benefit of getting older is that you’re far more inclined to let things go. “There’s a sense of no longer wanting to waste time,” says Elisabetta. “We know the importance of the time that we do have, and don’t want to waste it holding onto past regrets, grudges and other nonsense that adds no value. You can use age to resolve the unresolved and move on to a new stage of your life.”