Sometimes aging seems like a cruel joke. Technology can take us to the moon and let us watch cat videos from halfway around the planet, but when it comes to aging, there’s practically nothing it can do. What’s worse, scientists know that aging isn’t a fixed quantity: it’s something that can be changed by environmental, genetics and even what you eat. But even with all that knowledge, aging still leads to the inevitable.
According to the data, our society is a little obsessed with aging. There has been an 114 percent increase in the number of cosmetic surgeries since 1997, and many believe it's down to the higher standards of beauty in society today compared to the past. So what can people do as they age to cope with declining looks and health? Professional models turned psychologists Jill Muir-Sukenick and Vivian Diller offer some advice.
Meditate On The Parallels With Adolescence
Getting older, graying hair and joining a retirement community might not sound like they have much to do with your life as a teenager. But it turns out that there are a number of emotional parallels. The anxiety you felt over having pimples, and bad breath as a teenager is the same as you feel now over sagging skin and graying hair. Women in their forties can feel just as anxious about the way they look as women in their teens.
Listen To Your Internal Conversation
One of the reasons dealing with aging is so difficult is not because of the actual consequences but rather our internal dialogue. Many women have overly negative conversations with themselves about how they look, and this can lead to long term suffering. Sometimes the content of this conversation isn’t always conscious, but it does have an effect. Constantly reminding yourself that your fat and ugly can have real consequences for the way you relate to others and yourself.
Is there anything you can do to break out of it? One way to stop being so negative is to talk to yourself as if you were talking to a close friend. Think about what you’d say to them. Would you tell them that they were fat and ugly? Probably not.
Confront Your Changing Appearance
Society says that we should all remain beautiful and wrinkle-free as we get older. But that just isn’t possible. In fact, it’s totally unfair to expect such high standards of beauty from older people when they can’t help it.
Does that mean there’s nothing you can do about it? No, of course not. Embracing aging is often just as much about accepting is as it is enjoying it. And how do you enjoy it? By working on lifestyle factors, like nutrition, that help accentuate the positive aspects of aging - like increased wisdom - while reducing the negatives, like poor health. Your appearance will change, but with the right lifestyle approaches, it doesn’t have to change beyond recognition. Accepting aging is very different from accepting aging badly - something which will hurt you in the long term.