When do we begin to age? Well, the experts say our aging process begins right after our prime time, in our late 20s. To age gracefully, we need to pay attention to what we feed our bodies, how we nurture our minds and how well connected we are to our spi
The foundation of a gracefully aging body begins with nutrition. We hear Dr. Oz recommending healthy, whole foods to eat and which supplements to take as more organic-food farmers’ markets spring up all over. In addition, several new books and videos, like Forks over Knives and Hungry for Change, are available on the topic. I do not promote vegetarian or raw-food diets as the only way to eat because I believe that balance works best in the long run. We were designed to survive and thrive on nourishment that the earth provides naturally, not from a box, bottle or bag. Remember that you are what you eat and drink, so what’s in your plate and glass every day?
The perfect complement to proper nutrition is physical fitness. Right now we see a wellness revolution evolving all around us. There are different types of gyms to popping up that not only promote physical fitness but encourage clean and nutritional eating as well. And no, you do not need to train like a professional athlete in order to get results. What matters is that you get your heart pumping and your muscles moving. Walk or ride your bike to start; make it fun so that you look forward to doing it. What’s important is that you exercise regularly.
Another important aspect of aging and overall health rests in our emotional lives. Many people hold on to unprocessed emotions for a long time, and this is highly destructive to our well being. But releasing negative or hurtful emotions can be challenging. We can’t change past events or people’s behaviors but we can certainly change our perception of them. How we choose to perceive the world around us creates or releases stress, and medical scientists now agree that stress and suppressed emotions are a major contributing factor to illness and early aging.
We all have different sources of stress but the physiological response in the body is the same. If you are struggling with physical pain, illness or lack of energy, it’s likely that the source is stress and negative emotions. In the next section, you will learn how to change your perception to decrease your stress level, let go of negative emotions and age gracefully.
When it comes to the mind, positive thoughts and constantly expanding your knowledge are a good way to begin. Nurture your mind by reading, listening to CDs and watching videos that help you learn new things. When you are expanding your knowledge, you feel excited; it’s like a breath of fresh air. New knowledge will help you overcome challenges.
Remember, Einstein said that the same level of thinking that got you into trouble will not get you out. You will need a different level of thinking, and just pretending everything thing is okay will not solve the problem. The recipe for a healthy mind and body is that first, you must become aware of your emotions and honor them. Say to yourself: I feel angry (frustrated, scared) about… .
Do not rationalize them, and do not pretend they are not there. What’s more is that you do not need to confront anyone. The body is looking for acknowledgment for it to release the tension. Second, make a choice that you will work to release the emotion until is no longer held in your body, knowing that you’re doing this for you, not the other person.
Third, learn the lesson from the experience and find forgiveness in your heart. Many people struggle with this step because they want the person who hurt them to hurt also.
Unfortunately, your hurt does not touch them; it only continues to harm you.
Many years ago, a young woman shared with me how her father had walked out on his family on Christmas Eve. She said that she and her family were devastated. Six months later, she developed a condition called mitral valve prolapse, and we discussed the mind-body-spirit connection to her condition, to which she said, “I understand exactly what you are saying, but I am just too angry to forgive him.” By making this choice, she gave permission to her body to hold on to the stress and the negative emotions
associated with the event. When we make the choice to hold on to stress caused by people’s actions that are beyond our control, our bodies pay the price in the form of illness.
Another source of stress comes from just trying to make it these complicated and ever-changing times. We are in a constant race for more, faster and bigger in all aspects of our lives, yet we are ill prepared to navigate the chaotic pace it generates. So, how to cope? You need to simplify, revise your priorities and learn stress-management techniques that are practical for modern times, which I call Stress Management on the Go for Busy People. These tools can be used anytime, anywhere in the midst of your hectic life. Some of these tools involve breathing exercises, meditation, guided imagery and energy work. You can use them while you are on the phone, in a meeting or while driving — and you get better with practice!
Aging gracefully is all about making the right choices with regard to nutrition, exercise, expanding your mind, lowering your stress level, having positive thoughts and letting go in the form of forgiving.
Begin creating a plan for aging gracefully today; you’re worth it!
Veronica Correa, LCSW-C is a licensed clinical counselor and life coach. To learn more about Veronica or her services visit: www.thepersonalwellnesscenter.com or call her at 410-742-6016.
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