Last week I decided to give up New Year’s resolutions in favor of a New Year’s REVOLUTION – a new and positive way of looking at aging. Part Two of this revolution is the decision to live the rest of my life in an authentic way. I want my life on the outside to reflect the person I am on the inside.
Well, that shouldn’t be too difficult, considering that I’ve been this person for a long time now. I should have it down. I should be perfectly authentic. But, the fact is, like a lot of women my age, (and men, too) it’s not so easy to find that person. I’ve been busy, and I’m sure you have too, being the good wife, the good mother, the good employee, the good friend, the good committee member, etc., etc. You get the picture. Sometimes the real “us” gets lost in the roles we fulfill.
When I had my last physical, I was given a test for Alzheimer’s. It’s the first time I’ve been asked to take the test. I had to draw a clock face and remember some words.
When I asked my doctor about it – after he gave me my usual hug and told me I looked tired – he said, “Well, at your age . . .” Sitting in that tiny examining room, I was gobsmacked. “Oh, my gosh! I’ve reached that age!”
How old is “at your age?”
You know the one I mean. It’s the age where we’ve finally begun the steady decline from active and valuable adult into the stereotypical inactive and worthless old person. At first I was terrified, and then I was furious!
Stress isn’t all bad. Being mildly stressed can actually help us perform better in a committee presentation or on the tennis court. It gives us a little edge, and it’s been around forever. It’s the thing that helped our ancestors outrun the saber-toothed tiger, and though the tiger is long gone, the stress of modern life – even in retirement – can rob us of the joy we seek at this time in our lives.
It’s living with chronic stress – that constant bombardment of worry and anxiety – that’s the real problem. You know that tight feeling you get in the middle of your chest or the pit of your stomach? Your heart pounds; your hands get sweaty; and you wake up worrying in the middle of the night. Eventually, it can lead to health problems by making our hearts work harder and harming our immune systems. That means that stress management should be a priority for all of us.
The good news is that there’s plenty we can do to control the stress in our lives. All we need is a plan! In the next few blog posts we’ll be talking about taking steps to conquer stress in our lives. Let’s get started right away.
Three easy steps to getting started with stress management:
Like a lot of Baby-Boomer women of my age, I never really played organized sports as a kid. Before Title IX, there just weren’t a lot of opportunities for girls, and it was decidedly uncool to be sweaty and red-faced from exertion. So I tried to avoid it. I wanted to look like Twiggy (something I never came close to accomplishing), but it never occurred to me that exercise might help me with that. Suffice it to say that I spent lots of time sitting down. Dixie was different. She was a gymnast.
Fast-forward a few years. As a young wife with two small kids, I still spent lots of time sitting down, but now I smoked while I sat. One day I dropped my car off for a tune-up and was horrified to find that I had trouble walking less than a mile home. I had to sit down on a neighbor’s stoop to wait out a side-ache! You’d think that would have made me act, but it didn’t. Continue reading Move It or Lose It: Healthy Aging