I work at a cemetery, and read obituaries everyday. One thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people are dying in their late 50’s and 60’s. At 60 years old, I sit in my office feeling good, no aches or pains, no health problems, am not taking any prescribed medications, have no grey hair, and am not overweight. I plan to live actively to 100, and wonder why my peers look like they are aging faster than I am, so I gave it some thought, and decided to share my findings with you, to the best of my abilities anyway.
Around age 60 we should be at our best as we make wise decisions based on all we’ve learned through the years, but old thinking patterns and behaviors can also develop, and at middle age our bodies often can’t take the hard life-styles of our youth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything fun, in fact, it means just the opposite. Middle age is the time to pursue the things our souls may have been secretly wanting to do for years, the things most beneficial to our longevity and health. It’s time to trust your gut, your feelings, your body, with no apologies or explanations, just do it because you know it is right.
Healthy Habits That Work For Me:
1. Think about the food you put in your body, but don’t make it complicated: drink water when you’re thirsty, and eat meat (mostly Amish chicken) from independent meat stores, not grocery stores. Eat plain chocolate when you have a sweet craving, not a candy bar. Stop eating from fast food restaurants completely, stop drinking soft drinks. Eat ice cream on special occasions. Eat three regular meals every day. If you get hungry in between meals, eat a few plain crackers. No special cooking required for healthy meals, just meat and potatoes and plenty of vegetables are fine for dinner, a sandwich and chips for lunch, and one egg and one piece of toast for breakfast. Avoid lots of sauces and cheese, just season lightly and enjoy the pure flavor of foods. Let yourself feel hungry between meals, it’s healthy and good for you.
2. Exercise in moderation: walking outdoors is great, and there are plenty of small parks everywhere. Plan to walk at least a mile on your outing, and I even end the walk with a small running sprint. I try to do it once a week, but sometimes to goes longer than that, and I don’t worry about it. I don’t belong to a gym or own workout equipment because I don’t enjoy exercising that way, no fun. I attend a yoga class at the level that challenges me twice a month, and do yoga at home twice a month, so I do it once a week. My class makes me try to do things beyond my capabilities, and often leaves me feeling sore the next day, which I think is good. It’s good to stretch your muscles and fill them with oxygen and blood. I make sure my head gets blood everyday too by touching my toes as I stand for at least 12 breaths every day. I have pulled a muscle here and there, and to take time to recover, so I don’t push myself too far. Moderation is the key.
3. Sleep naturally: I can’t emphasize this enough. A good solid natural sleep can be the best medicine of all. I find I have a rhythm of sleeping well, and not sleeping well, and if I just let it be, it is the best for me. I tend to sleep well at the end of the week, a vacation, or event, but I toss and turn at the beginnings of things. I used to panic when I didn’t sleep well, and now I just tell myself that I will feel tired the next day if I don’t sleep, and that’s OK, I’ll sleep good that night. I also sleep in my own bed rather than sharing a bed with my husband, (which has probably saved our marriage!) On sleepless nights I am now aware that I’m often obsessing on something, and try to consciously think of things that will calm my mind like visualizing a calm sea, or opening my mind to the random images and words floating around in the dozing stage of sleep. I’ve had amazing dreams in recent years that have guided me to some wonderful experiences in real life, so I don’t want to do anything to interfere with dreaming. I also give myself permission to rest during the day if I’m feeling tired, and sleep in on my days off. No reason to push yourself to extremes any more, and who says you have to get up early every day just because you’re an adult?
4. Give natural cures a try: I have found prescription medication side effects so harmful, that I avoid taking medications if at all possible. I do take antibiotics when needed, but ask for the mildest ones. I’ve cured stomach problems by changing my diet (no more grocery store meat), and have cured arthritic pains by exercising the body part that hurts. For example, my hands started to ache constantly in my early 50’s, so I started doing hand exercises with a gadget that you squeeze three times a week, and my hands stopped aching entirely. I still do it to this day, and I’ve noticed my fingers are straighter and stronger than many of my peers.
Another example of a natural cure I use everyday is wearing a nose strip at night instead of taking allergy medication. I tried taking different medications, and they all made me feel like I had no energy, and didn’t relieve my symptoms. The nose strips have no side effects, and were the only things that really worked to clear my nose and sinuses.
5. Select low-stress jobs: that’s right, it’s OK to quit a job because it stresses you out. I’ve done it a few times, sometimes before I had another job lined up, and it has landed me in a part-time job today that I love. I used to think the fact that I couldn’t tolerate a stressful job was a bad thing, but now I think it may have been a wonderful gift. Too much stress leaves me feeling chronically on edge, angry, sleepless, and sick, so I’ve made some difficult choices and resigned from some jobs I thought were really great at first. Some stress is good for us, as it stretches our capabilities, but too much kills us, I’m afraid. I’ve listened to my soul and made big changes that scared me at the time as I continued to put a peaceful state of mind first, having faith that it would all work out.
6. No smoking, getting intoxicated, doing drugs, or being excessively social: Enough said.
7. Be kind to yourself: self-awareness is a gift that can come with age, so use it to be kind to yourself. If I find myself worrying about something, I am now aware of it, and I understand the power that negative thinking can have on one’s health, so I say nice things to myself to avoid panic attacks or becoming depressed. I say things like, “it’s going to be OK, things will work out for the best, you can do this,” and “breathe,” I also try to figure things out instead of giving in to feeling overwhelmed by something. If I’m sad about something, I have a good cry, and grieve it out. Giving myself quiet time to reflect on something can be the most healing thing I do, as it helps me find my truth about something. This doesn’t mean I avoid conflict or suppress negative feelings, as I believe that can have extremely harmful health effects, rather I become clear and strong on my position on something, and think before I act on it. This helps me express myself calmly without being upset, even if others do not agree with me. Very important to mental and physical health.
In other words, living a pure life-style, somewhat like you did as a child is how I believe I’ve been able to age well. No need to do anything extreme. You know what you need to do, just find a quiet place, close your eyes, listen and breathe.