Age catches up on all of us at some point, one day we’re racing around, enjoying life to the full and the next we start to feel just a little bit tired. It’s harder to shift the pounds, walking up a steep hill takes a little more puff and having too many drinks on a Friday evening can leave us feeling out of sorts for the whole of Saturday.
You look back and recall the times you tutted as Aunt Gladys fumbled to get her slippers on and laughed at the group of elderly gentlemen snoozing in the sun in their deckchairs, knotted hankies resting on ill-fitting toupees. You thought age would never catch you up, but here it is – knocking on your door. The question is – are you going to answer it? Are you going to accept that slippers and toupees will be part of your life? Or will you fight against embracing your twilight years?
Of course, in your brain you still feel young, you don’t really feel grown up at all. You’re like Tom Hank’s much-loved character Josh, in the classic film Big. You want to run and shout, laugh and have fun, heck you want to go and jump on that giant piano and play a tune. You don’t feel ready for the maturity that age brings and you certainly don’t feel ready for what you see when you glimpse your reflection in the mirror one day.
Who Is That Looking Back at Me?
Who is that person? The person with the fine lines framing their forehead, their eyes etched with wrinkles (too much laughter and sun you suspect). Their hair isn’t as thick and lustrous as it once was and their face is more rounded than you remember.
A few extra pounds have somehow crept on and the arms are a little flabbier. The tummy can only be sucked in for a short time before being let out like a deflating air balloon. Let’s not get started on the clothes – what a hideous cardigan – the person staring back at you has obviously been to visit mushroomsville – any beiger and they would disappear into a realm of wishy-washy nothingness. Who is this OLD person? You stare open mouthed at the reflection; the old person is you.
Change Your Mindset
First things first, don’t panic. You are not old, you are in shock – it only seems five minutes you were a teenager having your first snog with someone you met at the park. Now you look like the only person you could pull would be an old dear waiting for a number 8 bus. Before you begin a whole new mission to look and feel younger you must first change your mindset.
Responsibility comes as standard, accept it and embrace it. There will always be gardens to mow, bins to empty, food to cook, clothes to iron, kids to chauffeur and a miserable boss you have to please. Do NOT spend your day moaning about these things, either get on with them or resolve to make a few changes e.g. update your skills so you can search for a better job, draw up a chores rota at home and encourage the kids to help out more by offering pocket money or iPad time for a job well done – you will be surprised how much your kids will do for cash or more time glued to their favourite game or movie.
Do One Thing Each Day That Scares You
Is it nice in your comfort zone? All cosy and familiar? Put down that security blanket and step out into the light my friend. If you want to feel younger and fresher you have to set yourself new challenges and set out to experience new things. Keep your mind active by learning a new language, keep your body active by taking up a new team sport – go running with a group or take up bowling – it doesn’t matter as long as you are not vegging on the sofa with a dull-as-dishwater soap.
Never lose that sense of adventure or spirit. If you want to ride a motorbike around the USA start to formulate a plan on how you are going to do that (if you don’t ride a motorbike first stop might be to book some lessons)! You can do anything – tap dance, fly a kite, eat a vindaloo, get a cat, learn to bake, phone an old friend, move house, take up karate, or just decide to spend the day in bed with a box set and the biggest bar of chocolate you can find. The point is you HAVE to ring the changes. A change is as good as a rest – don’t stop moving – life is way too short to rest on your laurels.
Update Your Wardrobe
Bored of your appearance? Feel like you don’t look your best? Getting older doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take pride in the way you look. If you aren’t happy do something about it. Start with your clothes, pull everything out (everything – even that old pair of lucky pants you’ve been saving in case you need a little good fortune). Throw out anything that doesn’t make you feel great when you put it on, that misshapen jumper, the shirt that’s missing a button (you will sew it back on, when you find it), the shoes that need re-heeling. Have a big trying on session and make a mental note to buy a few new pieces to plug any gaps in your wardrobe – a cashmere jumper, a neutral shirt, a pair of leather brogues – good quality items that will last and make you feel and look like a million dollars.
Change Your Look
Hair, skin, nails, your body – these are all things you can influence and change with a bit of thought and effort. Cleanse and tone your face, use a good moisturiser, keep your nails well groomed and use hand-cream to soften your over-worked hands. Man or woman – you should take time to look good, and that starts with the basics.
Check out your hair in the mirror – have you had the same style for ages? Not quite sure you are ready for a massive change just yet? You can try out different styles and colours by investing in a few natural hair wigs. No need to chop and colour your own hair when you can go from blonde, to wavy, to black, to straight in a few minutes.
As for your body, try not to be too critical of yourself, age brings new challenges. You might have saggy \bits and flabby bobs, a few lines here and there and a bit of grey hair spouting but are these not the signs of a life well lived?
Your health is one of the most important assets you have, if not the most important. Are you doing enough to safeguard yourself as you grow older? Are you eating healthily? Drinking enough water? Quaffing too much wine? Getting enough fresh air and exercise?
Are you still secretly smoking those fags when you think no-one is looking? If you want to make the most of the future and enjoy a healthy and happy time as you get older then you need to invest in yourself.
You need to put aside time to go for that power walk, take the time to cook yourself a tasty and healthy lunch, give up those damaging habits and get enough sleep. We know it’s hard to step away from the laptops, tablets and mobile phones but your bedroom should be a calm and relaxed space where you can take a moment for yourself and get some decent shut eye!
You Are Only as Old as You Feel
Don’t let age creep up on you and change your life, you can set your own clock in terms of when you want to wind down and accept a slower pace. Don’t be influenced by others telling you that you should be doing this or that, the beauty of maturing is that you tend to know your own mind and have courage in your convictions. Think yourself young in all that you do, from the clothes you wear to the places you go and even how you style your hair. Let’s end with a few wise words:
To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old – Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.