We’ve all heard the phrase: “you are what you eat” because its all too true. Nutrition and exercise have a major effect on your health, body and brain. However, did you know that you are what you think, too?
There is an astounding body of research that proves that our thoughts have a profound impact on our mind and body. This is especially true when it comes to aging. In fact, the Yale School of Health performed a study that found that the way elders thought about age and age stereotypes played a crucial role in whether they developed signs of dementia. Their study proved that how you think about getting older affects how you age.
There are 4 main factors that can shape your thinking of how you age, as researched by Becca R. Levy PhD:
- Health – The anti-aging “health” industry constantly promotes stigmatized, negative views of older adults. This dramatized fight against aging can make people feel that they are losing as they get older, which can only hurt the psyche.
- Intergenerational Contact – There is significantly less stereotyping and better attitudes towards aging when there is frequent contact between older generations and younger people. However, there has been a marked decrease in intergenerational contact in recent years. This decline has had a negative impact on older adults, as proven by a University of California study.
- Legislation – Age stereotypes are also creeping into legislation, despite anti-ageism laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. It’s hard for elders to have self-confidence and self-love if the government itself doesn’t have confidence or love for them.
- Social Climate – As negative views on other minority groups improve, those on aging stay the same. This social climate transformation does not include the elder population, and is causing seniors to feel even more excluded, lonely and stigmatized.
With these 4 factors working against you and your thinking on aging, how can you possibly win?
Don’t despair, as research, like what’s being done at the Columbia University Aging Center, suggests there are a few ways you can fight back against this negative thinking like:
- Have a Flexible View of Aging – Viewing age as “just a number” rather than something that’s set in stone is proven to have a positive impact on cognition, health, and overall well-being.
- Use It or Lose It – Don’t blame age for the things you can’t do. Instead, stay curious, active and social. If you don’t use your skills, physical health, or social connections you will lose them.
- Ditch the Timeline – The common view that declining physical and cognitive health is because of calendar age is wrong. Fight back against the “clock” and lead a healthy lifestyle, because you and not a calendar are responsible for your rise or decline.
How you think about aging has a serious affect on how you physically and mentally age. Use these tips to fight back against negative stereotypes, thoughts and even laws. Only you can control your aging, because you are what you think.
How have you noticed negative thoughts impacting your life and health? Share below.
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