Staying Positive

What can we do to enjoy this stage of life more?  Instead of giving up all hope and shrugging and saying “that’s just the way it is”, we need to take charge of our health and habits. Never before in our lives have our bad habits mattered as much as they do now. One way to dig yourself out of poor eating habits and lack of exercise is to slowly incorporate healthy steps. The more you add healthy things to your life the more you will crave them. I am not a nutritionist but I do know from reading as much as I can on healthy nutrition that Omega 6s, or avocados, fish, fish oil and walnuts are really good brain food. Why wouldn’t we want to do all that we can to slow down the deterioration of our brains? Sleep is important and setting up a bedtime and wake up that is consistent at least 5 days/ week.

As long as we compare ourselves today to our younger selves or to those younger than us, we will feel defeated. It really doesn’t matter what we used to do or what we used to be. It helps to get a baseline on yourself today. Be honest. That is always a good first step. Are you on lots of medications? What is your weight and how far above a normal BMI is it?  Yes, maybe you used to be very active and you exercised all the time but what is your activity level right now. Then take just tiny steps toward improving that. If you go full throttle into a new healthy regime, it will be very hard to maintain that unless you are a super type A personality.

In my work I have counseled people with type 2 diabetes and post cardiac events from a behavioral perspective in healthy lifestyle programs. Often I found that many of the cardiac clients were actually thin and fit and after they were hospitalized they returned to work as fast as they could for fear that they would lose their momentum, but that was exactly the issue that landed them in the hospital in the first place. They were often healthy eaters and avid exercisers but they way in which they lived their lives was way out of balance.

What can you do today that would be reasonable to take your life in a different direction and to change the trajectory of your future? There are many things we don’t have control over but it’s important to take control where we can. You don’t need a lesson in what’s bad for you and what’s good for you. Most people already know the answers to that. The question is why would you continue to participate in destructive behaviors when you can always choose the opposite?

Health becomes the #1 concern at this stage of life because it’s now that we can set up a better future and plan for an active final stage. There can be much sadness at this time. We lose our parents, our children may have issues that we didn’t anticipate. We face financial problems that we didn’t expect. These years for many are not at all as we had pictured or the way our parents lived them. If it isn’t at the forefront of your thoughts, perhaps it should be.

 

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Author: Debbie Simon-14

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been in practice for 30 years. I combine years of experience in medical and psychiatric settings with a little bit of humor to come up with ideas for this blog. I lived in Brooklyn and NYC most of my adult life and raised my 2 sons there. From 1989-1992 I lived as an expat in Tokyo, Japan. I moved to CT in 2010 and after 6 years here I have decided to move west to a warmer climate. My interest in "this stage of life" stems from an observation that there is a lack of research and information on this developmental stage. Since baby boomers have always set the pace for future generations, the value of our lives between 50 and 70 years of age is just starting to gain some attention. Many clients in this age group who I've worked with in recent years have experienced agism in the work place, lay offs, foreclosures of their homes and financial concerns for the future. The retirement that our parents may have enjoyed is becoming a thing of the past. My hope is that this blog might strike a chord for some who are making their way through this leg of the journey with the same resilience, positivity and grit that they got through all of life's challenges with.

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