Updated: Jun 30, 2020
September is Healthy Aging Month, and it took half of September for me to write this...how lovely lol! At any rate, Healthy Aging Month is a time where we observe the positive aspects of aging. Its target ages are 45 and older, buuuuut I'd like to say this should be something for all ages. Like I've said in roughly all of my posts, "we're all aging." So, what does healthy aging really mean? Is it just a term people throw around? I simply define healthy aging as challenging self to do better (take self-inventory), think positive, and take advantage of social interaction.
1- Do. Better.
Mental health, physical health, and spiritual health are all things I have been personally working on because those are areas that I feel need my full attention in order to for me do better. None of these areas are easy to work on and it takes a determined mindset to tackle them.
*Mental Health - I started seeing a therapist back in March when I first recognized that I was overwhelmed. It was the best decision I could have made as it helped me unload the million things that were in my head (Your mental health journey may look completely different).
*Physical Health - I began going to Burn Bootcamp, a bomb gym that provides high intensity group workout sessions. I challenged myself to workout consistently for 30-days and once I accomplished that goal, I found myself not feeling my best during the times I decided to skip a session. It's a habit now (Your physical health journey may look completely different).
*Spiritual Health - In addition to being active in church, I worked on my communication with God and made sure I was specific with my wants, needs, and overall showing my gratitude (Your spiritual health journey may look completely different).
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), healthy aging can be defined as "the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability that enables well-being in older age." Is there more that you can do to make sure you have a good quality of life? Are you avoiding things that can actually improve your well-being? Do you allow your limitations, setbacks, laziness, mistakes made in the past and/or present stop you from simply doing better? These are the questions I suggest you ask yourself periodically to make sure you are consistently making efforts to be the best version of yourself while you continue to age, regardless of how old you are.
2 - Positivity is Key!
Do you speak about your life and how you're aging in a positive light? I came across an article the other day titled "Positive Attitudes About Aging May Pay Off In Better Health," and it made so much sense! To sum it up, our choice of words towards aging, more specifically our personal aging experience can either have a positive or negative impact on how well we age. The tongue is a powerful thing and it's connection with our mind can be lethal!
When we say things like "I'm getting old, I can't get out there on that dance floor and dance like I used to" or "I haven't found anybody yet, guess I'll be old and gray living alone," we begin to embody those negative thoughts. Change your words. If you can't drop it low (lowering your booty to the floor and bouncing) like you could back in the day, you can still take advice from Young Dro (look him up) and do a shoulder lean, or do a little two step like Bernadine, Savannah, Gloria and Robin did in my third favorite scene of "Waiting to Exhale."
Ageist thoughts can hinder us and prohibit us to living life to the fullest. Our mindset and words are everything. Choosing positivity is challenging, but studies have shown that they have a lifelong impact on how well we age AND can improve many areas of our lives. So, next time life hits you in your *private parts*, make it your mission to say "things will get better," this will be a contributor to your healthy aging.
I recently learned that I'm not as big of a loner like I once thought. Do I enjoy being alone? Yes. Do I have a blast just loungin' by myself and listening to Stevie Wonder's song "As" or Michael Jackson's "The Lady in My Life" on repeat? Absolutely! However, I've grown to realize I need social interaction. I'm home alone every single day because I have the luxury of working in my pajamas and using MY bathroom (By the way, that's a huge perk! You've seen the bathrooms at the office...women/men are n-a-s-t-y). I need to see and talk to people and that's big coming from me because for the majority of my life I've never seen this as a necessity.
As humans, we need contact. I've talked about this before with reference to loneliness, how we have the power to change the feeling of being lonely. Go volunteer, go to a basketball game, call an old friend and ask he/she out to lunch, or do something productive that will make you feel good. I know for a fact this will add to how well we age. I always feel like I'm on a natural high when I hang out with my friends or meet strangers in Target, or when someone in the grocery line turns around and tells me a corny joke. It's a good feeling, so take advantage of social interaction.
Life is challenging and there's no way around that. Like my homie Frank Sinatra once sang, "That's Life," (my taste in music is dope and it dibbles and dabbles in all genres) and I'd like to think it was his PG-version of telling his listeners that ish happens, but you have to keep moving. Just focus on doing better, thinking positively about what life throws, and leaning on people who can give you that natural high that we all so desperately need at times.
Happy Healthy Aging month! May you find yourself feeling better than ever before.
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