You’re only as old as you feel, right? So consider this your GPS to feeling happy, healthy and totally content right now – and as the years tick on.
FACT OF LIFE NUMBER ONE?
Ageing happens. But instead of slathering on anti-wrinkle creams and being shy about admitting how many candles decorated your last birthday cake, how about taking a different approach? Learn to celebrate your life at every age, and you’ll radiate an inner confidence that’s timeless.
“Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean a decline in physical health or a slide into cultural irrelevance,” says Dr Christiane Northrup, author of Goddesses Never Age (Hay House, $19.99). “You can change your future by adopting an ageless attitude that will help you flourish physically and mentally.” Intrigued? We asked Dr Northrup for her secrets to growing ageless with grace…
First up, recognise that ‘beauty’ isn’t the same as ‘young’. “In our ageist culture, even 25 year olds worry about one grey hair,” says Dr Northrup. “Women reaching 30 panic about looking old. But what if you had no notion of what you’re‘supposed’to look like on any milestone birthday? Forget about the number of candles on your cake, and your notions of beauty can change.”
Work on resetting your definition of beauty and you’ll open the door to a gorgeous future. “To be beautiful, a womanneeds to be youth ful and supple in mind and spirit,”says Dr Northrup.“Then she has a beauty that radiates out wards.”
Make an empowering change, such as learning a new skill (French classes, anyone?) or ditching a habit that drains you. “This can make you look healthier almost instantly. There’s nothing more beautiful than deep contentment and happiness,” says Dr Northrup. “When you’re happy, people don’t notice the lines on your face. They’re seeing your sparkling eyes as you laugh.”
Practise mindful pleasure
“To be ageless, learn to truly feel pleasures when you experience them,” says Northrup. “If you’re going to have chocolate cake, buy or make the best possible quality, sit in a comfortable place and slowly savour it.”
Notice all the small ways you can find pleasure in your day-to-day life: Walk barefoot on the grass and wear a beautiful fragrance, even if you’re not going out. “Delight in tastes, smells, sights, sounds andtactile sensations such as the pressure of a massage or the light touch of a soft fabric against your skin,”suggests Dr Northrup. “When you feel good inside your clothes, it shows in your attitude and your mood.”
Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary. Keep it tidy, splurge on bed linen and use high-quality essential oilsor candles to give it a beautiful scent, and play relaxing music. Enjoy spending time in the piece of paradise you’ve created.
Develop inner peace
Look for the positives everywhere, advises Dr Northrup, and avoid overdosing on news. “The body and its nervous system have not evolved to tolerate the daily onslaught of bad news and emotionally traumatising information in the mainstream news,” she says. “Remember that for every depressing news story, there’s an uplifting one.”
If you feel stressed ,worried or sad,there’s no better antidote than laughter. Even if you don’t feel like it, watch your fave funny YouTube clip or sitcom. Laughter can be as powerful as meditation.
Let it go
Holding onto past hurts can be ageing, says Dr Northrup, so learn to release them and move on. Not sure what’s holding you back? Keep a journal. “They’re an excellent tool for helping you reflect on life,” says Dr Northrup, “which is important when you consider how much pressure women are under to keep their focus on everyone except themselves.” Buried emotions, including painful ones, often reveal themselves in dreams, so write down any dreams that provoke a strong feeling in you. Looking at these thoughts could help you understand yourself–and your past hurts–better.
Write a letter to someone who has hurt you, suggests Dr Northrup. Don’t hold back – let the words flow. Then tear up the letter and have a long, relax ing soak in an Epsom salts bath. When you pull the plug, imagine all that hurt and negativity draining away with the water.
“Having a community of support is a primary way to help you release fear, anger and grief, and develop a greater sense of safety, happiness and optimism – and to keep you healthy and ageless,” explains Dr Northrup. “Social isolation and loneliness are a major health risk.”
If you’re not in a relationship and don’t have family or close friends nearby, it can be hard to feel connected. Reach out to others to share in experiences with you – this might also mean spending less time with those who are a drain on you and making connections with new, life-enriching people.
Organise a girls’ night out (or in). Don’t burden yourself by setting up too many expectations for the evening – be happy, relaxed and spontaneous. The only agenda is to have fun.
If you’ve spent your adult life watching your weight, your relationship with food is likely to be a fraught one. To nurture a healthier approach to food, aim to nourish your body when you eat.
“Improving your diet is one of the most powerful reset buttons available,” explains Dr Northrup. Focus on whole, natural, fresh foods and count nutrients rather than kilojoules. Make a habit of it and you might find you automatically want to avoid junk foods.
Really savour the food you eat. Take care as you plate it up and eat slowly, enjoying every bite.
Dr Northrup emphasises the importance of fun and enjoyment when doing exercise. “When you werea child, no one had to push you to exercise. In fact,it was just the opposite. You moved joyously in your body, and had energy to burn,” she says.
To take your fitness routine back to that happy place, exercise with freedom in mind. Dancing makes a great cardio workout, and improves coordination and mood. Plus it’s sociable, so it doesn’t feel like exercise.
Dr Northrup’s ‘Pretend You’re a Cat’ exercise is a playful way to give your muscles a mini-workout, any time of day. “Stretch like a cat.Yawn like a cat. And really notice how great it feels to tense your muscles as you stretch,” she says.