Anti-aging and healthier aging are terms with slightly different meanings. Anti-aging refers to specific external interventions you can do to fight the aging process. In contrast, healthier aging refers to adopting internal mindset shifts to help you accept growing old with grace, strength, and wit. Combining anti-aging with healthier aging methods is probably the best way to help you look and feel more youthful.
What follows are 17 of the most effective anti-aging and healthier aging methods for creating a more youthful appearance and helping your mind and body to function at their best as you grow older.
1. Shift Your Mindset from Lifespan to Healthspan
A fundamental shift in thinking about how you age will occur when you start to differentiate between lifespan and healthspan.
We all want to live a long and healthy life, but how many of us do?
For many people, their health deteriorates dramatically as they get older. This is the opposite of what you want for yourself or your aging loved ones.
Lifespan means the total number of years you will live during this lifetime. Healthspan, however, means the total number of healthy years within which you can experience at least some degree of physical mobility and contentment. Lifespan is about quantity. Healthspan is about quality.
In a perfect aging scenario, you will be healthy right up until the end of your lifespan and then expire relatively quickly. Thinking in this new way will begin to impact the lifestyle choices you make along the way and can contribute to healthier habits.
2. Healthier Aging Means Releasing the Illusion of Control
Excessive stress, experienced consistently, causes poorer health.
You will exhaust yourself if you try to control absolutely everything within your life.
Because not everything can be controlled. Your stress levels will immediately lessen when you can recognize those aspects of life that are within your nexus of control and those aspects that are outside your nexus of control.
Within the recovery community, millions of people have benefitted from the serenity affirmation, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Do you find yourself worrying about what could happen?
Do you constantly try to change things and make them better for fear of what might happen if you don’t?
Letting go of the illusion of control means giving up the idea that there is only one right way to do things or that things must always go according to plan. It also means allowing yourself to take risks and make mistakes – because those are a part of being human.
3. Begin Each Day with a Firmly Established Positive Thought
Every morning when you awaken, one of your first, clear thoughts of the day can be one of your choosing.
You can make it a habit to start your day with a firmly established positive thought.
You can choose something about your life – big or small – that you are deciding is a good thing.
Repeat the positive thought in your mind. Next, switch from thinking to feeling.
You can even stand in front of the mirror in the superman pose with an open, confident body language – feet firmly planted, hands on hips, and excellent posture – as you experience the physical sensation of gratitude.
When you start each day with gratitude in this way, you realize that even though you can’t have complete control over everything going on in your life, you still have plenty of competencies – and things for which you can feel thankful.
Negativity is a sort of mental prison. The more repetitive your negative thoughts, the more negative circumstances you will unconsciously manifest.
It’s positivity that will, ultimately, give you the greatest sense of freedom.
4. Live to Inspire, Not to Impress
Comparing yourself to others is often an inefficient use of your time and energy.
Live to inspire others, not impress or compare yourself to others. This distinction is an important one. Abraham-Hicks has said, “offering an example of thriving is of tremendous value to those who have the benefit of observing you.”
We are all guilty of wanting to impress people. We want to be liked, and be known as the person who has it all together. But in reality, this is usually not a healthy way of living. It’s natural to want to look good in other people’s eyes. But if you’re constantly trying to impress others, you will rarely be happy with yourself.
Here are some tips on how you can do just that:
- When something terrible happens, find the lesson from the situation instead of complaining about it.
- Instead of comparing yourself with others who are “better off” than you, compare yourself to you last year.
- Avoid waiting until tomorrow to do a secret good deed because tomorrow may never come.
- Worry less about what other people think about you because, after all, they’re imperfect too.
- Understand that you don’t need anyone else’s approval to fulfill your life.
Be wary of any distractions that prevent you from living your best life. You don’t have to worry about how many Instagram followers you have, or if your hair looks perfect in every selfie, or how many wrinkles your skin has acquired. You’re too busy living your best life and helping others do the same.
5. Generate the Feeling of Gratitude
Growing old is a lot better than the alternative.
Few of us arrive at the age of 50 without knowing at least one person who wasn’t also able to make it to middle age:
- Though sometimes tricky, being in your body on this planet at this time is an opportunity to viscerally experience life, moment to moment.
- To be both alive and healthy is an astonishing feat and is best not taken for granted.
Even if your life feels flawed and challenging, anything is possible if you’re alive and healthy. You are pure potential.
Try to generate a feeling of gratitude for having made it this far. Not everyone gets to experience all four of life’s seasons. To do so is a gift.
6. Think of the Challenges of Aging as Part of the Adventure
Aging is inevitable, and there isn’t anything you can do to stop it (there are proven interventions to slow the aging process, but not stop it altogether).
The best way to have an adventurous and meaningful life is to experience each of life’s metaphorical seasons – spring, summer, autumn, and winter.
Each of life’s seasons has its unique challenges.
At times those challenges might feel painful or even insurmountable – but there is almost always the potential to experience fulfillment and joy in your future.
It’s good to be youthful at heart, but if you overly resist the idea of aging, you might miss out on having a fully dimensional experience during your autumn and winter seasons. If you can’t embrace growing old, at least accept it.
7. If You Can’t Embrace Growing Old, At Least Accept It
While a year does represent the amount of time it takes the earth to make one revolution around the sun, it does not have to represent or determine your level of vitality or happiness.
Though by now, you might have started to experience some of the effects of growing old on your body and mind, you can still choose to feel youthful by adopting healthier thoughts and habits.
When the human mind focuses on the negative, it tends to manifest more negative experiences.
Though no one is insisting that you love every aspect of growing old, you must understand that to aggressively resist the process is not only unproductive, it might also be counterproductive.
8. Make Your Own Health More of a Priority
As you age, your physique will change, and so will your brain.
Some of these changes can be hard to accept, but they’re a normal part of growing old.
You might start to gain weight or lose muscle mass as a result of aging or other health conditions like:
- pre-diabetes or diabetes
- arthritis and stiff joints
- skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, or rosacea
- increased risk of heart disease or stroke.
Some cancers grow or shrink based on the number of excess carbohydrates or sugar in your daily diet, while other cancers are impacted by the amount of excess protein you consume. This means you can reduce your risk of cancer by eating an anti-inflammatory diet that contains only the amount of carbohydrates or protein you earn through physical activity.
9. One of the Best Anti-Aging Interventions Is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Anti-aging refers to the specific interventions that are designed to prevent the feeling and appearance of getting older.
An anti-inflammatory diet provides a strong foundation for a healthier, anti-aging lifestyle and can help slow the pace of growing old.
When a person is relentlessly exposed to modern foods for which their body was not designed to ingest, the immune system can become fatigued, confused, and overactive.
An anti-inflammatory diet involves a daily menu of foods to which your body responds positively, reducing the risk of an inflammatory response.
What a body finds inflammatory is slightly different for each person. Generally, a body tends to thrive when it’s not exhausted by a constant onslaught of flour, sugars, fried food, alcohol, seed oils, or too much caffeine.
For example, the lectins and oxalates in certain foods can irritate some people, which is why some thrive when they remove foods containing high levels of lectins or oxalates from their daily menu (such as peanuts, wheat flour, navy beans, soy, and nightshades).
Similarly, industrial seed oils (used in many of today’s “conveyor belt” food items) contain oxidized fatty acids which can damage molecules, including DNA. Some people do better when they remove these oils – such as canola, corn, cottonseed, soy, sunflower, safflower, grapeseed, rice bran, and peanut oils – from their weekly diet.
For many, a diet very high in vegetables works remarkably well for overall health and body composition goals.
The micronutrients and cofactors found within vegetables help to support the body in essential ways. The high fiber content helps to keep the bowels regular so that waste materials move smoothly through the body without being absorbed into it – this reduces risk factors for heart disease such as high cholesterol levels in blood vessels which can lead to blockages or narrowing.
In addition to a high vegetable intake, an anti-inflammatory diet might also include meat and fruit – however, what amount of meat and fruit is beneficial is determined primarily by one’s physical activity level. A sedentary person might require relatively small amounts, while a relentless athlete might need significantly more.
10. Exercising Smartly Is a Key Part of Anti-Aging
It’s wise to move regularly, if possible, five days a week for at least 30 minutes.
You don’t need to run marathons or lift heavy weights; moderate exercise such as brisk walking will help keep your heart healthy and reduce aging effects by keeping muscles strong, bones dense, and joints mobile.
In particular, many people receive abundant benefits from cross-training.
A good cross-training program involves doing a bit of everything throughout a typical week – such as Pilates, resistance training, anaerobic drills, stretching, yoga, swimming, and lower-intensity, steady-state cardio.
11. Healthier Aging Means Becoming Solution-Oriented
To avoid becoming the stereotypical cranky old senior, it’s helpful to orient your mind toward seeing solutions. Become the type of person who delights in solving problems.
Only spend enough time and attention on a problem to identify it. After that, switch immediately into solution mode.
For example, instead of complaining about your ailments or dwelling on life’s imperfections, direct your awareness toward discovering as many self-care tactics as possible that help slow the pace of growing old.
Here are some examples of self-care tactics that can have a significant positive impact:
- Get enough quality sleep, about 7 hours per night – more if you’re an athlete. Make some improvements to your bedroom to make it even more restful.
- Rampant mouth bacteria can weaken your heart. Take care of your mouth, gums, and teeth so that the bad bacteria are kept at a minimum. Brush carefully twice daily, floss daily, and see your dentist regularly for cleanings – at least twice yearly.
- Drink ample water, it helps keep organs running smoothly and regulates the temperature inside your body. Dehydration can lead not only to fatigue but also reduce cognitive abilities. Dehydration is not just about not getting enough water; it’s also about electrolyte depletion, so ensure you’re getting enough trace minerals – mainly if you’re eating a lower-carbohydrate diet or working out a lot.
- Find healthier friends. Growing old is more enjoyable if you surround yourself with healthy people. You’ll be less likely to slip back into unhealthy habits.
Make an effort to ensure that most of your habitual thoughts are positive. It’s important to remember that aging is a process, and like any other process, it can be approached with a positive attitude. Growing old is a part of life; we all must do it. But it’s not a bad thing.
12. Be on the Lookout for Ruts
Sometimes, you can get into a rut without even realizing it.
A rut is a habit that might have started as positive but has since become negative.
Be alert for patterns of behavior within your own life that may have – over time – become dull and unproductive.
Ruts can sometimes be hard to change, but acknowledging that you’re in one is half the battle.
Stay out of boring ruts by periodically challenging yourself. Learn something new. Get involved with a group that interests you or take up a new hobby. For instance, you can:
- Take a hike in your area and explore the natural beauty of nature around you.
- Learn how to speak another language, even if it’s only one new word daily.
- Start volunteering at an organization near you where they need help. For example, if you love animals, find out about local shelters or animal rescues looking for volunteers who can do things like walk dogs and clean cages at no cost.
- Take up cooking classes or sign up for one of the many online courses available today that teach everything from basic knife skills to advanced cooking techniques.
13. Healthier Aging Allows You to Reflect on Your Purpose
Growing old helps put you into a more reflective state of mind. Being the age you are, you’re now more able to give deeper thought to your life and the reasons you are here:
- When you’re younger, it’s easy to be motivated by what other people expect of you.
- But in your fifties and beyond, that changes.
- You’ve probably achieved many things that were important to you during your life.
- Now it’s time to start thinking about what else you want from life — what else will fulfill your purpose?
Many people have achieved fame and success in earlier parts of their lives but were never content or satisfied.
As they grew older, they realized their true purpose in life.
14. Avoid Common These Common Pitfalls of Growing Old
There are some common dangers people experience while growing old for which you’ll want to be on the lookout.
Take Precautions to Avoid Slipping
More people are severely injured or killed by head injuries from simple falls than you might believe.
Have a strategy for avoiding falls. Wear non-slip shoes or slippers at all times. Slipping and falling can happen to anyone while walking, even young people. But it’s a common problem for mature people. Falls can result in hip and leg injuries, too. If you don’t want to wear your work shoes around the house, invest in a pair of non-slip slippers that will allow you to move around more safely. Don’t let your pride prevent you from using a cane or walker if that ever becomes necessary.
Slipping is an obvious risk factor for falls, but there are many others as well: tripping over uneven surfaces like carpets; not paying close enough attention while walking; having poor balance because of muscle weakness, or wearing loose clothing that may catch underfoot while walking (this includes socks with holes).
Still Smoking? You’ll Be Growing Old a Lot Faster
If you’ve been smoking tobacco cigarettes, I encourage you to consider taking the money that you would have spent on cigarettes for the rest of your life and invest it instead in a residential treatment program to help you quit smoking once and for all (if you have health insurance, it might even pay for part of it).
Smoking is among the leading causes of preventable death and can make it much harder for an older person to live a physically healthy life. Smoking increases your risk of heart disease and stroke and also increases the risk of lung cancer. It’s also a contributing factor in other cancers such as mouth, throat, and stomach cancer – not to mention various types of skin cancer and excessive wrinkles. It may even lead to erectile dysfunction.
15. Healthier Aging Focuses on Longevity and Quality of Life
Try to remember that, in today’s world, people are often more focused on short-term gains than long-term ones:
- Most people are concerned about losing weight or getting in shape for an upcoming event.
- However, these goals may not be as beneficial in the long term as we think they are.
- To achieve true longevity and quality of life, we must focus on our overall health rather than just a few specific aspects.
- While it is vital to get in shape, losing weight quickly can do more harm than good if you’re not careful.
- The key is balance and moderation. You don’t want to go overboard with your dieting efforts to lose weight quickly — that’s not sustainable.
- Instead, make small changes over time that will help improve your overall health without sacrificing too much fun.
16. An Anti-Aging Mindset Shifts from Codependence to Interdependence
Each person experiences love a bit differently, so each person has different relational needs. That makes relationships between fellow humans sometimes complicated.
Further complicating human relationships is that – since no childhood or family of origin is entirely perfect – many of us grow up developing relationship styles with less-than-healthy behavior patterns.
It’s simply part of the human experience to sometimes have difficulty getting our relational needs met in a way that helps us thrive.
Similarly, it’s sometimes challenging to meet others’ relational needs in a way that helps them to thrive.
In a perfect scenario – whether within a romantic relationship, a friendship, or among colleagues – each person is winning.
Winning in human relationships means that each person contributes something healthy and receives something healthy.
When it comes to thriving over the age of 50, it’s helpful to understand the mindset of interdependence versus the mindset of codependence:
- Interdependence is the state of functioning that exists when two or more people have a cooperative relationship and share a common interest or goal.
- Codependence occurs when an individual relies on a dysfunctional relationship with another person to help fulfill his or her own needs.
The Mindset of Codependence
Codependent people tend to seemingly put others’ needs ahead of their own. They might feel responsible for other people’s happiness or need to care for someone else because they don’t think anyone else will do it.
They also might feel like their life is out of balance because they spend so much time caring for others and not enough time taking care of themselves.
The irony is, though a person behaving codependently thinks of themselves as an “over-giver,” in reality, it’s the behavior pattern of a “taker.”
Because the emotional pay-off of convincing themselves that they’re a giver is more important than anything else – ultimately a selfish position of unconscious victimhood. It’s exhausting for everyone involved, either directly or indirectly.
A codependent person might have low self-esteem and be more concerned with taking care of others than themselves.
They might try to solve other people’s problems instead of listening when those people talk about their own concerns or feelings.
Focusing on other people makes it as if they can avoid doing the difficult work of their own personal growth.
Codependence is a psychological condition in which one person’s well-being depends on how another person feels about them and their actions.
Codependence can be found in romantic relationships and between friends or family members. It is when one person loses their sense of self and instead focuses on the needs of another to feel worthwhile.
Codependent individuals often feel helpless and frustrated that they cannot seem to help themselves or others get better. They tend to have difficulty knowing when it’s time for action versus when it’s time for listening.
The Healthier Aging Mindset of Interdependence
Interdependence is a state in which two or more people or things are connected or dependent on each other healthily.
For example, a single person cannot live without other people and resources, so they are interdependent on the rest of humanity and the planet.
When one person provides support for somebody else’s needs, and another person is not in a position to reciprocate with the same degree of support, there is a dependency relationship, but this is dependent interdependence (not codependence). This dependent-interdependence is also healthy because it’s a natural part of life. Children, for example, require caretaking, and so often do the elderly.
Some people believe that there is no such thing as true independence; all actions have consequences that affect others.
We need each other to survive, whether talking about our families, communities, or even ourselves. If one part of a system fails, it might still function for a while if another part works well enough to compensate for what’s missing. But eventually, everything will fail because things are more complicated than they appear.
Interdependence is also crucial because it helps us understand how interconnected systems work together to create bigger wholes; like how all parts of an ecosystem support each other so all species can thrive; how water flows through streams and lakes into oceans and back again; or how two people’s stories can be told together in one narrative without losing anything from either one.
Say Goodbye to Codependency
Codependency is not a relationship. It’s a behavior.
And it can happen in any relationship. Even ones that seem healthy, even ones where both people are committed to one another.
Codependents are people who often have trouble setting firm boundaries with other people. They have a difficult time understanding that healthy relationships have boundaries. In fact, codependents mistakingly believe that boundaries are the opposite of love.
They also find themselves doing things for others that they wouldn’t do for themselves, like giving money or spending time on someone else’s hobbies or interests instead of focusing on their passions – and neglecting their physical and emotional needs in favor of pleasing a partner or family member.
Sometimes codependency looks like selflessness at first glance because it involves putting others first. Still, in reality, it’s actually selfish because it prevents you from getting what you need out of life and prevents your loved ones from getting what they need out of life too.
Interdependence is about relying on your partner for support and emotional intimacy.
You need to be able to count on them when you’re feeling down or need help with something. But it’s also crucial that your partner be able to depend on you for things.
It’s not that relationships have to be precisely equal, tit-for-tat; however, from a higher altitude vantage point, a healthy relationship is, overall, equitable.
Codependence is about giving up some of your own needs and wants in favor of pleasing your partner. This can be really nice sometimes. But if it happens too much, it can make you feel like you don’t have any individuality anymore.
The trick here is finding balance: how much independence do we allow ourselves outside our relationship? And how much interdependence do we need inside our relationship? As we age, our relationships change, so defining the difference between interdependence and codependency is essential.
17. Accept Growing Old with Grace, Strength, and Wit
Making mindset shifts can help you approach aging more positively and empowered way.
No matter how old you are, it’s never too late to make a constructive change in your life.
The reality is that our perception of aging and the way we experience it are all mental constructs.
Aging is a burden or an opportunity for growth, renewal, and learning.
You are the only person who can make you happy. You are the only one who can make your life what you want it to be.
You don’t have to wait for others to validate your choices about life; you can make mindset shifts and accomplish your goals on your terms, not theirs.
You’re growing old, there’s no denying it. Everyone is growing old – it’s a natural part of life. But whether you accept growing old with dignity and intelligence is up to you. It can be helpful to imagine the aging process as a fun adventure that, through various challenges, allows you to showcase your grace, strength, and wit.
If you think you’re aging too fast or not feeling as youthful as you used to, remember that there’s nothing wrong with being older — it just means you’ve lived long enough to get here.
Aging might be inevitable, but there are proven interventions that help slow the process. In particular, improvements in nutritional and exercise habits can help you get healthier while growing old.
The above 17 tips combine anti-aging and healthier aging methods for a youthful appearance and to help your mind and body to thrive.
Additional Sources on the Differences between Anti-Aging and Healthier Aging:
Connection Between Gum Disease and Heart Disease – https://www.deltadentalil.com/your-health/general-oral-health/gum-and-heart-disease-link/
Dietary Interventions for Cancer – https://chriskresser.com/dietary-interventions-for-cancer-vitamin-d-walking-tocotrienols-sleep-apnea-adhd-in-kids-mental-health-and-nanoplastics/
Healthspan VS Lifespan – https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2018/12/07/its-quality-not-quantity-of-life-that-matters/
Layers of Meaning within Life – https://www.theschooloflife.com/article/the-meaning-of-life-2/
Control as an Illusion – https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-illusion-of-control-5198406
Science of Gratitude – How it Changes People, Relationships (and Brains!) and How to Make it Work For You – https://www.heysigmund.com/the-science-of-gratitude/
Relationships Based on Interdependence – https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-build-a-relationship-based-on-interdependence-4161249
Relationship Mindsets – https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/codependency-vs-interdependency/
Facts about Codependent Relationships – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319873#