Unhealthy lifestyle is our greatest epidemic. When we are younger, we have a natural biological resiliency that allows us to keep going strong no matter how poor our personal habits might be. But poor diet, inadequate exercise, chronic stress, insomnia, lousy posture, and lack of mental stimulation erode our strength gradually, and once we reach a certain age – usually in the middle of our lives – we suddenly begin to manifest all sorts of physical, mental, and emotional maladies and dysfunctions.
Here is the good news – it is never too late to reverse course and change our lives by changing our habits for the better. Aging should be a time of greater maturity, more insight, and richer experience, not a time of rapid and inevitable decline. What it takes to make it that way is a balanced approach to living that heals the body, re-energizes the mind, soothes the emotions, and massages the deepest parts of the soul.
Giving the Body What it Needs
Poor diet causes toxins of all types to accumulate in the cells, where they are free to slowly poison us into submission. Eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, beans, and whole wheat products will give our cells what they need to begin working properly again, and they will also provide bountiful antioxidants that can help remove dangerous free radicals from the bloodstream while helping the body detoxify after so many years of abuse.
A balanced, healthy diet is the best remedy for disease in general. I have a cousin who is a breast cancer survivor, and she now consumes juiced fruits and vegetables in ginormous quantities to keep herself healthy, and so far her cancer has stayed in complete remission.
The other key to a healthy body is of course obvious. But here is the great thing about exercise – it does not have to be either tedious of overly strenuous to deliver outstanding benefits. As I enter mid-life, I realized I needed to make a greater effort to stay active, and so I started taking long walks every day. Not only has this improved my energy levels and endurance dramatically, but now that I live out in the country I am able to walk through beautiful rural landscapes, which has significantly increased the amount of pleasure I experience on a daily basis. So exercise is important, yes, but it is likely to be much more sustainable if the kind of activity you choose is fun and not too difficult.
Releasing the Mind from its Chains
For many older people, their fear of mental decline and infirmity is greater than their fear of physical decline. Because of how integrated the body and mind are, exercise and proper diet are good for the brain and can help preserve mental functioning.
Nevertheless, activities specifically designed to challenge the mind are also necessary if we are to stave off the kind of mental deterioration that is so often associated with aging.
Any kind of hobby that requires you to think and process information is excellent for maintaining your mental sharpness. In our family, my dad likes to read political magazines and play the stock market online, my mom does crossword puzzles and reads the paper from front to back each day, and I have thrown myself completely into my favorite hobby, photography, taking classes to learn more and reading everything I can get my hands on about the subject. Whatever strikes your own personal fancy is fine, just make sure it is something that truly stretches and challenges the mind.
The other part of the mental equation is that you need to relax, to help yourself unwind from the stresses and worries that may have accumulated over a lifetime. Meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, hiking in nature, or listening to peaceful music can all make a huge impact, helping you untie all the inner knots of tension that have been binding you and wearing you down for so long. Another great idea is to get one of the safety tub walk in bathtubs, which is perfect for those with mobility issues (and even for those without). These luxurious bath tubs can deliver an amazingly relaxing experience – just sit down on the bench, turn on the adjustable jets to select your water speed and intensity, and allow all the tension to flow away as the streaming water carries you away to heaven.
Connecting for Life
The enemy of your soul, your spirit, and your emotional well-being is loneliness. The longer you are alone the more it will eat you alive. Besides spending as much time as possible with family, the need for companionship and human connection can be met in other ways, such as:
- Joining a club
- Taking classes at a local recreation center
- Signing up for bus trips to nearby tourist attractions
- Raising vegetables in your own garden to sell at the farmer’s market
- Adopting a pet (or better yet, several pets)
A balanced approach to improving your health must include bringing more love and companionship into your life. This is what will allow you to avoid depression, and it is the best kind of chicken soup for the soul that I have ever encountered.
Change for Change’s Sake
In speaking about the importance of good health, Oprah Winfrey once said this: “There’s no easy way out. If there were, I would have bought it. And believe me, it would be one of my favorite things.”
The methods above do require genuine effort and determination. But if you put the time and effort in to make these changes in the way you are living, your life will never be the same. By restoring your body, mind, and spirit to optimal health, you will indeed be able to permanently change your relationship with the aging process.
Karen Lee is a writer who spends her time advising those entering mid-life who want to preserve their health and vitality. Her website is dedicated to personal home care products, offering walk in tub prices as well as reviews on these sought after wellness products. Karen is an avid walker and photographer, and now that she lives in the country full-time she has ample opportunity to pursue both of her favorite hobbies.