Master it. . .
As we grow older, we experience an increasing number of major life changes, including career transitions, retirement, children leaving home, the loss of loved ones, physical and health challenges—and even a loss of independence. How we handle and grow from these changes is often the key to aging well.
Coping with change is difficult at any age and it’s natural to feel the losses you experience. However, by balancing your sense of loss with positive factors, you can stay healthy and continue to reinvent yourself as you pass through landmark ages of 60, 70, 80, and beyond. Healthy aging also means finding new things you enjoy, staying physically and socially active, and feeling connected to your community and loved ones. Unfortunately, for many of us aging also brings anxiety and fear. How will I take care of myself late in life? What if I lose my spouse? What is going to happen to my mind? Many of these fears stem from popular misconceptions about aging. But the truth is that you are stronger and more resilient than you may realize.
Focus on the things you’re grateful for – The longer you live, the more you lose. But as you lose people and things, life becomes even more precious. When you stop taking things for granted, you appreciate and enjoy what you have even more.
Acknowledge and express your feelings – You may have a hard time showing emotions, perhaps feeling that such a display is inappropriate and weak. But burying your feelings can lead to anger, resentment, and depression. Don’t deny what you’re going through. Find healthy ways to process your feelings, perhaps by talking with a close friend or writing in a journal.
Accept the things you can’t change – Many things in life are beyond our control. Rather than stressing out over them, focus on the things you can control such as the way you choose to react to problems. Face your limitations with dignity and a healthy dose of humor.
Look for the silver lining – As the saying goes, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” When facing major challenges, try to look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If your own poor choices contributed to a stressful situation, reflect on them and learn from your mistakes.
Take daily action to deal with life’s challenges – When a challenge seems too big to handle, sweeping it under the carpet often appears the easiest option. But ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away; it allows both the problem and your anxiety to build. Instead, take things one small step at a time. Even a small step can go a long way to boosting your confidence and reminding you that you are not powerless.
There are many good reasons for keeping your mind and body as active. Exercising, keeping your brain active, and maintaining creativity can actually help to prevent cognitive decline and memory problems. The more active and social you are and the more you use and sharpen your brain, the more benefits you will get. This is especially true if your career no longer challenges you or if you’ve retired from work altogether. So get to moving, walking, meditating and more. Don’t just set on the sidelines because of aging, grow from it, embrace the changes and become the expert of aging with grace, understanding and the adaptability – you are ready to be a master!
Peace and Love, Jim