The Mental Science Of Aging – Is It All In Your Head?

Ageing-woman-outdoorsDo you ever notice that you may sometimes spend a little too much thought time or energy on worrying about your aging process? I have to admit that I have been guilty of that, and with our youth-obsessed culture – thanks to our American media, its not hard to have that happen!

Well, researchers are actually studying the effects on our brains and moods when we spend too much time being pre-occupied in that area. Dreading getting older and worrying over every little sign of aging – from crow’s feet around our eyes to the occasional memory glitch, can actually be causing us to age faster!

Study after study has shown evidence of this link, that people who view aging negatively live, on average, 7-l/2 years less than people who see it positively.

Even though aging is not all in our heads of course, a lot of it is mental. A study conducted by Harvard University arranged for a group of elderly men to spend a week at a retreat living as though they were 20 years younger. They were given magazines they had read and TV shows they had watched from 20 years earlier. Afterward they showed dramatic improvements in their memory, hearing, vision, dexterity, strength and even their posture. Many participants were already in their 80′s, but they learned a universal lesson: by changing your perspective on aging, you can turn back our clock.

So what’s a person to do to reverse the thought trends you may be stuck in? Number 1 is to stop focusing on scary “symptoms” of aging. Most often they are exaggerated or imagined anyway. For instance memory loss like misplacing your keys or blanking on a date of some fact, will usually make you feel sure that you are heading toward mental decay. But forgetfulness happens at every age; you just don’t think anything of it when you are in your teens or 20′s.

Knowing the signs of true Alzheimer’s is something we should all make ourselves aware of, but differentiating between that and “natural” forgetfulness can go a long way to peacefulness in your psyche. Let’s look at some other simple steps to stop your worries:

  • Don’t overlook the value of growing older. The truth is that we do get happier as time goes on for the most part and become more comfortable with who we are and what we have accomplished in our lives by a certain point, plus you are smarter, more resilient and better at your relationships;
  • Develop an appreciation for making lists. Write down 10 ways that your life is better now than it was in your 20′s. Write down 5 ways you are smarter than you were 5 years ago. The goal is to relax about the passage of time and start to live IN THE HERE AND NOW;
  • Think about doing some type of volunteer work where you can feel connected to others and get a feeling of satisfaction that is outside of yourself; and
  • Don’t forget to never stop exercising as long as your body can move – or else it won’t be able to. Active regular exercise and healthy eating will go a long way to better quality of life and energy to keep depression away and maintain better overall health.

Courtesy of The Nutrition Advisor Blog — you can also visit her website.

You may also like:

Look Gorgeous Forever – Book Review on “The Anti-Aging Beauty Bible”

7 Anti-Aging Tips to Keep your Brain Young

Forgetfulness: Knowing When to Ask for Help

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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