Aging is an incremental and profound process that we all experience. And yet, it’s also a process that we tend to be in denial about. In denial, that is, until some change makes our aging undeniable!
But being proactive about accepting and adapting to our aging makes each day easier and more enjoyable – with fewer surprises and unanticipated losses.
In a previous article titled “Aging, You and Your Time” we talked about the importance of coming to honestly and fully appreciate the process and experience of aging. The following tips are meant to enlarge on what we covered in that post and provide some concrete, specific stepping stones for you as you navigate your own, unique aging process.
Aging-5 Timely Tips
1. Your (and everyone’s) unique process of aging occurs over time. Since the changes that come with aging are usually very gradual, they can be difficult to notice. That means they sometimes sneak up and surprise you!
Rather than worry about unforeseen surprises, pay attention to your mind, body, and spirit. Find time to step back and review the last few months. Do you notice any incremental changes in your energy or efficiency? When you do identify changes, use your new clarity to understand that they are a natural part of living. Acceptance enables you to be in reality and to problem-solve meaningfully as you move ahead.
2. Avoid denial. This goes right along with Tip #1. Acceptance is key; denial only keeps you stuck. Suppose you notice that it takes you longer to do things. Your next step is to compassionately and directly confront the realization that you move more slowly, and that it takes you longer to complete even familiar activities.
It’s a temptation to deny the reality of these life changes and to tell yourself that things will return to their normal pace once you are less tired or stressed. But for starters, “normal” is an illusion; we are always changing. And denial actually just keeps you on the defensive, as you are trying to push reality away. That never works!
So, instead, assert positive control by listing the tasks that now take you longer to complete. Then you can start building in the time you need to get them done.
3. Don’t react with anger or frustration. These are feelings that will stop you in your tracks. So, encourage your feelings to flow, rather than churn in whirlpools. Staying stuck in anger or frustration wastes precious time and diverts valuable energy from coming up with creative ways to adjust to your new pace.
Challenge yourself to craft new – and even enjoyable – ways to maintain your desired level of productivity, while accepting that the time required overall may be longer.
You may find that when you allot more time you feel more connected to your task, whatever it may be. Welcome new learnings as you make your way!
4. Don’t stay stuck in grief. Just as you don’t want to let anger and frustration fester, so it is with grief. It’s natural to experience losses as you age. But remember that grief, too, needs to flow and, as it does, make way for the new.
If your self-esteem is tied up with high productivity and accomplishments, then you may initially feel like you’ve ‘hit a wall’ as you slow down. However, aging opens new gateways as you genuinely accept your real losses and honor your accomplishments. Rather than getting stuck, you have the power to frame this as a time to stretch, savor, and celebrate what truly matters.
5. Use humor. It’s no accident that the words humor and human sound similar. Humor humanizes.
Approach your changes in productivity with empathy and a bit of humor here and there. Attitudes are contagious. A pragmatic view, softened by humor, creates a powerful environment of acceptance. That alone, will carry you far, as you make this very human journey.
I hope you find these tips helpful, and would love to hear how you are experiencing your aging process.© Copyright 2014 Paula Eder, Ph.D.