You’ll find a range of lotions and potions claiming “anti-aging” properties in any beauty aisle, and many of them can be very effective. That is, if you want to create a superficial reproduction of a youthful glow on the surface of your skin.
However, if you’re going to hit the anti-aging jackpot like you would when playing casino games and defy age with long-term results, you need to focus on keeping your body and mind young too. There are many ways to do this, but all of them are aligned with at least one of the following five principles:
1. Reduce Your Stress
Constant stress ages you both mentally and physically, but it’s unavoidable for most modern urbanites juggling the demands of work, social life and family. That’s why it’s important to set yourself specific times for self-care, and then stick to them. Building regular anti-stress breaks into your daily routine, maybe even a full “Me Day” once a week, is at the core of a sustainable anti-aging lifestyle.
Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and self-hypnosis are all proven destress techniques, but so are sport and other physical activities, including regular sex. If that’s not an option, you might try puzzles, games, hobbies, arts and crafts. The trick is to find the activities that fit your personality and your daily routine, and use them to destress on a regular basis.
Eating dinner earlier so you’re not going to bed on a full stomach, and getting eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night, are both recommended to further reduce stress.
2. Eat More Fat
Specifically, Omega-3 fatty acids. Those are the so-called healthy fats, vital to unimpaired brain function throughout our lives, that humans cannot synthesise themselves, we need to consume them in our food. Aptly named “oily” fish, including salmon, tuna, anchovies, trout, herring, mackerel, swordfish and sardines, are rich sources of Omega-3.
These fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties and a proven effect on cognitive health, although their putative effects on cancer, cardiovascular disease and developmental difficulties, among other conditions, are still contested by medical science.
It goes without saying that a healthy diet in general is a potent weapon against aging. Lots of whole grains and cruciferous vegetables will supply you with vital fibre, vitamins and minerals. Moderate amounts of protein keep your muscles and bones strong, and complex carbs provide sustained energy without spiking your blood sugar.
In smaller quantities, you also need to consume fats from healthy sources like oily fish, avocados, nuts, peanut butter and most seed oils. Fat is a vital ingredient in cell growth and energy storage, and acts as a catalyst in several other bodily functions, so you should never try to eliminate it from your diet completely.
3. Don’t Stereotype Yourself
Age is very much a state of mind; thinking that you’re old is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Part of the process of minimising your stress is banishing phrases like “I feel old” from your vocabulary. Your self-image is the picture you project to the outside world; if you think you’re old, and you behave as if you’re old, people will treat you as if you’re old. Which will only reinforce your conviction that you’re old and start the cycle anew.
So, stay open to new experiences, within reason. Never turn down an opportunity with the excuse “I’m too old”, with the exception of Miss Teen Universe or a musical flatulence contest. Invigorating experiences don’t have to be extreme, either; a new language or dance lessons, a hobby or a cooking class – they’re just a few examples of how to stay young while learning.
4. Stay Physically Active
It’s no coincidence that professional athletes who maintain their fitness routines post-retirement appear to be ageless. Even an average non-athlete can slow the aging process by staying in shape. Lifestyle issues like obesity or diseases of the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys, among other organs, can all contribute to premature aging.
If you’re not a sports fan, dancing, Pilates, yoga, tai chi or even a Nintendo Wii can be effective substitutes. If none of those options appeal, even taking a 60-minute walk around your neighbourhood every day can give your heart, lungs and muscles a healthy workout.
5. Stay Mentally Sharp
The most significant part of aging isn’t deepening wrinkles, less elastic skin or shrinking muscles. It’s the loss of mental agility, so exercising your mind to keep it young is an essential factor in your anti-aging strategy. This ties in to point 3: you can avoid falling into age-based stereotypes by keeping your cognitive processes nimble.
Puzzles, memory games, quiz shows and other mental aerobics are a proven way to keep your mind engaged, playful and young. They may be just as important in fighting off aging as physical exercise is.