“I like the way I look. I like the way I feel. I like my energy. I have wisdom. I have perspective. And I can tell you that ageing can be so incredible”- Suzanne Somers
I went for my annual skin check recently. It’s one of the proactive things I do to look after myself. The doctor did his check and reported my skin was in good shape, but then looking at my details on the computer, he said “oh you’re over 50, this is where your health starts to fall apart and anything can go wrong at anytime. Make sure you see your doctor regularly”. What an absolute positive and inspiring comment to make (insert sarcasm). Oh, I know he was just trying to be caring and helpful, but here’s the thing, it’s not positive nor inspiring and in fact it’s counterproductive and damaging.
We have been conditioned to believe that as we age, everything declines. That it’s expected our body will suffer pain and we won’t be able to maintain a good level of health and fitness. It’s normal we will feel like crap. We won’t be able to bend over and will most likely leak with every sneeze, cough or laughter outburst. That our heart can just stop at anytime. Perhaps some other major organ will just fail on us, as we try and move our creaking bones out of bed. That we will become forgetful and less useful. That we won’t be productive members of society. That we will need all sorts of medications to survive. That we have one foot in the grave. Despairing yes? Yet we continue to limit ourselves because of these beliefs.
We have been collectively conditioned to fear getting older. And anyone who understands our psychology and belief system, will recognise how harmful this type of limiting belief can be. The fear belief itself, is in fact the biggest killer of all.
It’s true some people do age quicker, struggle with illness and some do suffer with failing body parts. But it’s also true that one’s physical health can decline or change at any age. The difference is most younger people aren’t expecting to get sick, or drop dead at any moment. There’s also some real lessons to be learnt for younger people in a) taking care of themselves now so that as they age the chance for better health will be maximised and b) not to buy into this ageing notion and becoming part of the problem. The Biology of Belief and Mind over Medicine are two incredibly insightful books for understanding the relationship between the mind and the body and the impact our beliefs and thinking have on our overall heath.
I am guilty of taking these beliefs onboard in the past. As I sit here writing this, my dad who is visiting, is trying to discourage me from my training, as he thinks it’s not good to do that at ‘my age’. Without realising it we have formed this terribly sad negativity about getting older, with an expectation that all these awful things are going to happen to us. The spruiking by the medical profession like my recent encounter with the skin doctor, whilst their belief is it’s helpful, it isn’t. Yes it may encourage some to be more vigilant and diligent around their health, but for many it just builds on that already existent subconscious conditioning that, we are literally going to fall apart and that we must slow down, or even stop.
I am of the strong opinion, based on a lot of literature out there, that what we unconsciously believe, forms much of what happens in our lives. This is true about our relationships, money, outlook on life and of course our health. And that our emotional, mental, spiritual health and the wounding and trauma sitting in our little unconscious box tucked deep within us, plays the largest part in our health and wellbeing.
Of course sometimes regardless of what we do, things will happen in life. There’s no absolutes or guarantees, but there are things we can do to benefit ourselves and help support the right outcomes. If you’ve read any of my other articles, you will know I love making lists, so here’s my list to unchain yourself from the conditioning and give yourself the greatest shot at ageing well.
- Therapy- deep therapy to get underneath the conscious mind and into the unconscious mind. It’s the start of the journey to unravel your wounding and trauma and reveal the limiting beliefs that are holding you back. Don’t kid yourself that you have no work to do, because we all do and those of us that dismiss this are sadly the one’s who have the most to do. Look at your fears, your judgements, your bitterness, resentment, guilt, shame, anger and projections- they tell the story of your beliefs.
- Mindfulness- for me this means meditation in many different forms. It means walking in nature. It means anything that will bring me into the present moment. It’s reflection. Introspection. It’s the ability to be able to sit in comfort and discomfort. It’s recognising when I’m trying to distract myself and when my ego is taking over. It’s learning who I am and each version I grow into. It’s living in the now, because life is now.
- Gratitude– yep I’ve said this many times and yep many don’t understand it. I have a daily gratitude practise because it reminds me of all the beauty and blessings in my life. The day my mum died last year was devastating, but I was grateful I got the be there. I’m grateful I got to share the many years I had with her. I’m grateful to have learnt the things she taught me and to be able to acknowledge the limiting beliefs and wounding I had, not with blame but rather love that she did the best she could, but I could change my story. If we dig deep we can always find some gratitude.
- Grief– unpack your grief in healthy ways. Grief is a painful and overwhelming experience that society has taught us should have a timeline. That there’s a process and we should all go through this same process. That we will get over our grief. All lies that will cause us more pain. Unresolved and complicated grief can be so destructive and it can literally make us sick. Seek support so you can learn healthy mechanisms to move through your grief.
- Exercise- sometimes it’s a tough workout and other times it’s more subtle. But I move my body everyday. I mix it up with walking. Light running. Resistance and strength training. Yoga. Pilates. Dance and fun. Work your muscles. Stretch your body. Sweat. Perhaps you have health or mobility issues that limit what you can do, but there’s always some form of movement your body can endure. Don’t let fear stop you.
- Connection- family, friends and community. So important for our emotional and mental health. As a crisis phone volunteer one of the biggest reasons people call is loneliness and disconnection that has greatly impaired their mental health and life. But one important connection we often overlook is the connection to ourselves. Many of us have disconnected from ourselves, from our core and what we really want in life. From who we are and what’s important to us because we have a belief that our needs don’t matter and we need to fulfil some family or societal obligations. We feel lost, overwhelmed and unmotivated. Reconnecting to myself was the greatest thing towards regaining my wellbeing.
- Food– over the past several decades the food we consume has become more processed and less nutritious. We simply don’t get everything we need out of a typical diet. The diet of our grandparents and great grandparents, was far more wholesome, with far less preservatives and additives. I won’t lie I love a pizza and a meal out, but I also stick to protein, fresh vegetables and fruit for the most part. I also take a few good supplements, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, plus some natural hormonal stuff and a fermented probiotic for my gut health. Noting our gut health has a huge impact on our mental health.
- Health checks– I do annual and bi-annual health checks. Skin checks. Breast checks. Teeth and gum checks. Blood tests. Eye checks. I visit a doctor and a naturopath to ensure my body is balanced and not lacking in anything. A balanced body is a healthier body and I cannot express the importance of this, as it’s often so overlooked. There’s always a reason our bodies begin breaking down and knowledge is power.
- Physical therapy– massage. Osteopathy. Chiropractor. When my body feels pain I do something about it. Our bodies are incredible machines but like any machine they need maintenance. You can’t expect to push your body physically, overcome illness or struggle with your mental health and do nothing. If your car starts to play up you don’t just leave it, as you know if you do it will likely breakdown. Our bodies are the same. If my body feels pain I address it. At the very least I get an adjustment by my chiropractor twice a year.
- Energetic healing– okay I know some of you will be sitting there thinking this is ‘hocus pocus’ and you are entitled to your beliefs but I would ask what blocks you or scares you about working with your energy? I’ve done acupuncture, acupressure, kinesiology, reiki and chakra work and I have to say, I love it. Our energy can hold all sorts of things and releasing what we no longer need or no longer serves us is a great way to help balance our bodies more. I challenge you to open yourself up to different modalities.
- Purpose- never underestimate the need for purpose. People wither away when they have no purpose in their lives. Purpose is your why. Why you get up each day. Why you do what you do. It’s a statement of who you are from the deepest parts of you. It gives you and your life meaning. If you have no purpose in life and your life lacks meaning, it will be a quick slide into misery and ill health. If this happens find support to help you find your purpose and regain your meaning.
- Faith- I’m not religious but I am spiritual in the respect I have faith in a higher power, being that of the universe or higher self. Now I’m probably really testing people’s openness but the point I’m trying to make is faith is important. If we lose faith it has a direct effect on our being. Faith gives us something to believe in and we all need belief in something. It empowers us in times of struggle to have that faith. What do you have faith in?
- Hope- without hope what do we have? Hopelessness will lead to despair and despair will lead to a decline in our mental health. It will effect our whole body. Hope is the ability to look forward and anticipate that everything will be okay. There is nothing more unkind than taking someones hope away. Sometimes people hope for toxic things like reforming an unhealthy relationship, but rather than dismissing their hope, encouraging them to seek therapy is a kinder approach.
- Love and compassion– self love. A love of life and humankind. To see the world through the eyes of love and choose love. Be a compassionate human being. If not love and compassion then what? Judgement. Resentment. Bitterness. Anger. Jealousy. Hate. Blame. All reflections that you’ve lost connection to yourself and have some real self honesty, reflection and work to do. This sh*t will eat you alive. And make no mistake it will cause you some real health issues. You can’t possibly be happy when you are filled with such negativity and feed these toxic emotions. These toxic emotions will feed toxicity through your whole body.
- Sleep– we all know sleep is crucial yet some of us don’t get a good nights rest. I’m no expert in sleep but I do work on improving my sleep and having routines that are more conducive to sleeping well. Sleep deprivation and not sleeping well will accelerate ill health and cause chaos with your mental health.
- Learning– don’t ever stop learning new things and wanting to grow. We should always be challenging our knowledge and thinking. Whether that’s through reading, studying, being mentored, or open and interesting discussions with people. Learning opens our minds and keeps our brain active. Mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimulation.
- Skin– it’s the largest organ in our body so what we choose to lather onto our skin is important. Conversely our skin is a great indication of our inner health. So many skin related issues are caused by poor gut health, inflammation and the state of our mental health. I love a bath in magnesium, sea salt and bi-carbonate soda which is a great detox, drawing out toxins through our skin. Another reason a dip in the ocean is so good for us. Sometimes we need more than a topical solution.
- Laughter and fun– there’s no age limit on fun and having a full belly laugh. Age does not define your spirit and your essence and laughter can be such a stress relief. Do what you enjoy, no matter what that is. People that judge you are simply afraid because they are too scared to be perceived as silly or ‘not acting their age’. Seriously, who cares, life is to be lived and enjoyed. Laugh and have fun.
If you feel you must ‘behave’ in a certain way as you age, you’ve caged yourself. You’ve chained yourself up to the conditioning and beliefs that stop so many people from living the life of their passions and that will slowly poison you, because you are not following your souls desire.
If you believe that everything will slowly fall apart as you age, guess what? It likely will. Don’t manifest that belief into existence. Yes we might fall apart regardless but why not give it a red hot shot at bettering our odds and in the meantime living a happy and fulfilling life because we’re not worried about all the things that could go wrong. Rather we work hard on our emotional, physical and spiritual health and embody the things that will help pave the road to everything going right. How do we embody these things if we have no idea what’s in our unconscious? I circle back to therapy and doing that internal work. This is the most neglected aspect of our health and one way to slowly kill ourselves. Exercise and eating well are only part of the equation, our collective emotional and mental health is currently declining exponentially, because we ignore it.
So there you have it. Another list to mull over. Sharing my experiences, learnings and lessons is one way I can give. One way I can serve. And one way I can possibly support or guide another on a better path. It’s why I do the work I do. And why I love the person I have become.