Okay – here’s something weird.
Recently I read an article – a series of articles, really – about aging.
Specifically, the series was focused on all the ways, available and emerging, we can stop or even reverse the aging process.
Many articles focused on learning techniques to promote restoration or longevity for our physical body – as such, these read much like a short course for auto enthusiasts striving to better preserving paint or battery life in a favorite antique car.
The article that captured my complete attention was called “Get Your Head in the Game: cutting-edge research is showing that your outlook can change how you age-at a cellular level.”
Its premise was simple – so simple it sounds like a cliche I was tempted to ignore (“You’re only as old as you feel” – well, what if some days I feel five and other days I feel 80? Divided by 2, that places me well within range of my actual age – 44).
So I stayed focused on facts – aka what we already do know is possible when body and mind are linked.
Here is what we know:
- Our mindset can increase or decrease blood pressure and germ-fighting white blood cells.
- Meditation can reduce inflammation.
- Mental state can impact the ability of free radicals to damage our cells.
- Our surroundings – where we live, whom we live with, our close contacts, et al – can impact physical and mental performance.
- Mindset can help our cells’ age markers (tiny pieces called “telomeres”) to actually grow longer – which in theory can slow down the body’s aging process!
- Active people experience less shortening of telemeres as they grow older, even in the presence of ongoing stress.
So these are some of the things research has proven to hold true – but to date, application strategies continue to be a big question mark.
At this point, it seems stress reduction is a big player in how quickly our body ages and how much we can do to slow that down, stop, or even reverse it.
Perhaps this is because reducing stress also reduces inflammation, a stress by-product that leads to other life-shortening health issues (such as high blood pressure).
The article interviewed several so-named “Longevity Gurus,” each of which offered their own personal formula for reducing stress.
Here are some of their favorites:
- Exercise and/or an active lifestyle.
- Mindfulness meditation.
- Seeking out fun things to do.
- Brain games.
- Mental hopefulness and optimism about the future.
- Adequate sleep!
- An overall positive lifestyle (incorporating diet, exercise, sleep, attitude).
I think my favorite part of the article comes from its author – he sums the researchers’ conclusions up perfectly when he says:
Enjoy the time you’ve got, and you just might get more of it.
To which I reply, hear! hear!
Today’s Takeaway: What is your relationship to age on a physical or mental level? When you think of “aging” (your own or others’) do you think of it strictly in the sense of the body? Do you factor in the age or state of the mind? Do you feel like your own mind is an ally in helping your body – and YOU – stay young? Why or why not?