Is it true that age could all just really be a state of mind?
Maybe not the number, but how you reach those numbers could be.
A growing body of research suggests that a person’s mindset – how they feel about growing older – may predict how much longer and how well they live as the years go up.
Several studies over the past couple of decades suggest that people with more positive attitudes about aging live longer and healthier lives than those with negative perceptions about the aging process.
A recent nationwide study of nearly 14,000 adults over 50 looked at how positive thinking about aging could impact physical health and psychological well-being.
The study, published in JAMA Network Open, found that those with the highest satisfaction with aging had a 43 percent lower risk of dying from any cause during a four-year follow-up than those with the lowest.
People with higher satisfaction also had a lower risk for chronic conditions like diabetes, stroke, and heart disease and better cognitive functioning.
Those with a more positive attitude about growing older were also more likely to engage in frequent physical activity and less likely to have sleeping troubles compared to their less satisfied peers. They also had a greater sense of purpose, were less likely to be depressed, and were more optimistic.
If you don’t feel great about the reality of aging, you can change your mindset to embrace it and potentially enjoy the benefits. Here are some ways to do that.
Maintain a sense of purpose: Finding projects that align with your value can provide purpose. If it’s family, maybe helping out with grandkids. If you’re passionate about the environment or conservation, find projects that contribute to the health of the earth. Volunteer work for a cause you believe in can be great at providing purpose.
Recognizing negative messages about aging and rejecting them: Research suggests that negative stereotypes about aging are internalized over a lifespan and can harm physical and mental health.
If you believe that poor physical health is inevitable with age, you may not think there is any point in staying active. Exercise, however, can lower the risk of a host of chronic conditions associated with age. Healthy behaviors offer support at any age.
Stay socially active: Age can bring the loss of spouses, family, and friends, and can lead to some feelings of isolation. Isolation can have negative impacts on mental health. Reaching out to people, joining groups, and replacing lost people with new ones can all help you stay social.
Try something new: Doing new things or learning new things can also help. You’re never too old to try something new!