By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
It’s not rocket science, folks. Learning how to age gracefully is as simple as knowing what kind of lifestyle choices will help you slow down the clock, and then actually making those choices every day.
How to Age Gracefully:
1. Focus on the quality of life you are living.
If you do a good job, you’ll not only live healthier, but likely longer as well. Ask yourself, why is your life good? Where is there room for improvement? Recognize and be grateful for what you have, and make a “wish list” to help you achieve what you don’t already have. To help manifest what you want, look at your list often.
Often, we don’t realize what quality of life is until ours declines, and we are no longer free from aches and pains or negative thinking (which can also be crippling). Many of the suggestions below address or contribute to quality of life.
2. Find ways to be happy and optimistic.
Research repeatedly shows that happiness and optimism promote a healthier and longer life. Anger and depression create sick molecules, and anger can also kill quickly. It may be helpful to, each morning, write a list of how you want to feel the rest of the day and keep it in your pocket: grateful, joyful, patient, etc. Know what may trigger anger or depression for you and, when triggered, shift your focus to something that makes you genuinely happy. Reprogram your responses to life.
3. Be loving and be of service.
How to age well? Love… a lot. Mother Theresa said to “spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” You are the first recipient of your actions, and spreading love fills you with satisfaction and contributes to your own well-being. Love is truly a healing force.
4. Minimize stress.
Stress accelerates aging and shortens life. It can trigger a fatal heart attack, drain your health by exhausting your immune system, and generate premature cell death and age-related diseases. Meditate, do yoga, or whatever you can to minimize stress, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Connect with friends and family. Vital connections – wherever you find them – are crucial for emotional well being. Always remember to BREATHE! Learn about more about healthy ways to cope with stress.
5. Stick to a healthy diet.
Eat as close to a simple, fresh, natural diet as possible.. That means fewer processed foods, i.e. those with ingredients lists that typically contain excess sugar, salt, and unnatural chemicals. I recommend a Mediterranean-type diet – it’s good for the heart as well as your waistline! Whenever possible, eat organic. Learn more about a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet…
6. Supplement Smartly.
Even if you are a healthy eater, bolster your diet and cellular health with a good multi-vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant formula. It’s “insurance” for food that may not always have enough nutrients. You can also support your body’s natural energy production process, and help retain the energy of youth, by taking what I call “the awesome foursome”: coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, magnesium, and D-ribose.
7. Get enough regular, moderate exercise.
Your body was made to move, not to sit all the time. “Move it or lose it” is an important anti-aging principle. It’s also important not to exercise too much or too strenuously; find that sweet spot. I cannot stress enough, exercise crucial healthy aging. Best if it’s something you enjoy. Learn more…
8. Get plenty of sunshine and fresh air on a regular basis.
Don’t go overboard with sunscreen. Your body needs direct exposure to sunlight in order to make vitamin D. Known as “the sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D helps keep your immune system strong and helps protect you against many degenerative diseases. My suggestion? Get outside and walk for 15 to 20 minutes each day in the mid-day sun; the combination of fresh air, sunlight, exercise, and stress reduction makes doing so a no-brainer. Just wear a hat which shields your face from the sun, and exposing your legs or arms instead.
9. Reconnect to the Earth (get grounded).
Modern life has detached us from many aspects of Nature, including the powerful healing, nurturing, and rejuvenating energy omnipresent on the surface of the Earth. Kick off your shoes and go barefoot in the grass, on the beach, or even on unpainted concrete. I recommend at least 30 minutes a day of grounding or “Earthing.” If you can’t get outside to do so, use an Earthing device designed to connect you to the Earth’s energy indoors.
10. Know Your Limits
More than ever, be body smart. Your aging body can’t endure, nor can it recover as well from the same kind of stresses and strains that it could when you were younger. I see this reality check – not as succumbing to aging, but – as staving off what could result in accelerated aging; is an injury that leaves you unable to exercise, and more prone to eat “convenience” foods and feel down-and-out really worth it? Respect your body’s changing needs.
Remember, while growing older is inevitable, you can slow down the aging process to maintain quality of life potentially live longer. Bad choices, of course, happen – just learn from them.
© Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.