Someday, notes from the 21st century will likely reflect upon humankind’s struggle to adapt to living longer. Here in the midst of this revolution, people are preparing themselves for the physical and mental challenges of delaying the aging process, growing old gracefully, and remaining “of sound mind and body”.
Research reports currently reflect unsatisfactory results when either a healthy mind becomes trapped in an unhealthy body, or an unhealthy mind resides within a healthy body. An entire generation now faces the question, “what’s the point of living longer if our minds or bodies still decay?” This question has given rise to a variety of anti-aging products and theories on how to remain healthy and strong during our potential “bonus” years. Here are a few notes on the subject.
Distraction can be a problem . Recent world events have turned our attention from the internal threat of aging, to external threats of harm from others. During this period of world unrest, people everywhere have sought comfort through overeating and physical laziness. This will be referred to as “falling off the horse”.
Everyone needs a personal recovery plan. After periods of distraction, it is necessary to “get back on the horse”. It is certainly understandable that from time to time, almost all of us get off track with our self-care, especially during periods of world crisis. However, we must also learn how to get back “on track” as soon as possible in order to minimize damages brought about by stress, shock and gluttony. While it is difficult to switch gears and focus on thoughts of summer vacation, bathing suits, and the countdown to weight loss, the truth remains that June is just around the corner and “time waits for no one”.
Who are your role models for healthy aging? It is helpful to think about others who have successfully managed their health and well-being. During the first 16 years of my life, I had the good fortune of spending a great deal of time with my great-grandmother. Grandma Gertie was born around 1880 and lived to the ripe age of 93. Amazingly, it was rare to see her on a day when she did not feel well, and ever more rare, to see her without her make-up on and her hair done just right.
Long before it was popular, Grandma Gertie was into calisthenics. She religiously started her day with exercises that began with limbering up and culminated in a series of toe-touches from a standing position. What’s more, she lived in a wonderful old house that had a very long, elegant and winding staircase. My great-grandmother’s bedroom was, of course, at the top of this very long flight of stairs. As a kid, I once wondered out loud why she didn’t relocate to the downstairs bedroom, thinking it would be easier on her. I remember being informed, in no uncertain terms, that climbing that flight of stairs and her daily exercises were directly responsible for her good health and longevity.
Find a form of exercise that you enjoy. Quality of life is largely based upon how we feel. Some people exercise for the sake of vanity; others remain physically active so they can move around without pain. Whichever is the case, the challenge is to find a form of exercise that does not in itself cause pain, and that is pleasurable enough that we will want to do it on a regular basis. This is a difficult, but not impossible, challenge.
The events of September 11, 2001 have taken a huge toll on all of us. While some people continue to suffer the ill effects of post-traumatic stress, others have found ways to return to life as usual. In truth, life is an on-going series of both joyous and traumatic events which devastate some people and strengthen others. Coping with the ups and downs of life is best achieved when we both allow ourselves to grieve and then allow ourselves to recover from grief. It has been said that those who focus on the past are likely to be depressed, those who focus on the future are likely to be anxious and worried, but those who focus on the present, reap the joy of each moment for as long as it lasts.
©Copyright, 2002, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.
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