You may have heard a million times how age is just a number. But, the real question is: do you actually believe it?
We are aware that from the moment we are born, we grow older. The transformation is almost invisible to the naked eye when you try to observe daily changes in physical appearance, yet when you look back over six months, a year or over many years, signs of ageing is evident.
Now for some, celebrating their birthday marks another milestone in the amazing journey of their lives, but for others, it's a ticking clock.
Ageing is just a normal part of human life but the way some people carry on about it, you'd think differently. Our society puts pressure on us to look youthful through the messages carried out in media and advertising. For women in particular, the struggle to retain one's youthful beauty is just that - a lifelong struggle.
We're here to say that the yardstick society uses to measure beauty is outdated and ridiculous. Ageing is something you should embrace. The only real question is: how does one do so gracefully?
In this piece, I attempt to answer that very question...
1. Embrace the change
It takes a strong individual not to worry about what people think of them. And it takes a certain amount of courage to step away from the mentality of the herd. But the truth is that that's exactly what needs to happen if you want to accept yourself just as you are and embrace the physical changes that will happen.
When we're around others we start to compare and then their insecurities become our own insecurities. The media and advertising industries get in on the action and before you know it, we're buying things to pacify the fear of ageing.
Once you start to compare, you get into a tug of war, trying to compete with other women on the grounds of who looks prettier, younger, better. You don't need to derive your self esteem from what you look like. It's what you do and it's what's on the inside that really counts.
Focussing on how to fix our imagined physical 'problems' is how we give too much of our power away, allowing our external world to shape how we view ourselves. So don't give your power away. How do you do this you're wondering?
Well, when you look in the mirror, recant some positive affirmations and make sure to see yourself as you are. Remember to be grateful for the things you have and surrender to the things you cannot change such as ageing.
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2. Work out to get healthy, not to get skinny
In your 30s, the body begins to lose muscle mass at a rate of 8 percent per decade if nothing is done to maintain it. For this reason, cardio along with good strength training is recommended. Strength and resistance training not only help to build muscles but also helps keep it strong, allowing you to keep up with every day activities as you get older.
3. Deal with stress swiftly
Life nowadays has become a lot more stressful despite living in a world of abundance. Stress has a way of bearing down on our bodies and it also accelerates the ageing process at the cellular level.
A study conducted by Elissa Epel, a psychiatrist at the University of California has revealed that there is no such thing as a separation of mind and body. The very molecules in our bodies are responsive to our psychological environment. Therefore, when we are stressed, it transforms us in ways we don't even realise.
So take a moment to breathe, and learn to let it all go. If you don't, the unwelcome side effects are dark circles around your eyes, dry skin and sometimes, even hair loss.
4. Get plenty of sleep
As one gets older the harder it is to fall asleep. Ever wonder why?
Well, a collaborative study from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the University of Toronto uncovers the truth: a specific cluster of neurons associated with regulating sleep patterns called the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus slowly die off as one gets older. Thus, the more cells one loses from ageing, the harder it gets for older people to sleep.
So, older folk generally end up sleeping an hour and a half less than the younger generation. Since their bodies are physically unable to sleep as they did when the were younger. But what happens is, older people feel tired throughout the day so it is important to get a nap in if you need it.
Most people need anywhere between seven to eight hours of sleep. While this is not always possible, getting enough sleep should be the aim. If French women who are renowned for ageing gracefully sleep for about nine hours a day, this should definitely be a goal one should strive for if one wants to age well. And don't forget to invest in a good mattress and pillow. You will, won't you?
5. More than skin deep
Is ageing gracefully all about looking perfect on the outside? For some, maybe. But the truth is, it's what's on the inside that counts. A recent study has uncovered the link between nutrition and skin ageing, reflecting that poor general health increases the ageing process, bringing new meaning to the term 'it's what's on the inside that counts.'
So be mindful of what you're feeding your body, avoid smoking and binge-drinking and make sure to consume plenty of whole organic foods filled with antioxidants such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and tocopherols, as well as essential fatty acids, vitamins (A, C, D, and E). These vitamins and minerals promote skin health and beauty and will help you retain your youthful looks.
6. Consider your skin care regime
As we age collagen and elasticity of the skin begins to degenerate. We are pitched and marketed beauty products geared towards helping us fight wrinkles however it's important to note that there is no proof that anti-ageing products even work. One of the best ways to avoid the appearance of wrinkles is to limit sun exposure. No product will act as a facelift in a jar, only an actual facelift will do this. Instead, just limit sun exposure as sun damage is the leading cause of premature ageing, eat a largely plant-based diet and keep your skin in good health by avoiding beauty products with toxic chemicals.
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To age gracefully is the goal and by following these simple tricks, you'll achieve that no matter what birthday you happen to be celebrating this year.