Navigating the aging process is no easy task, and there’s no absolute right or wrong when it comes to how to age well.
Still, recent research notes that certain life skills we learned – or didn’t learn – at an early age influence how we handle aging. Specifically, researchers at University College London centered on the effects of emotional stability, determination, control, optimism and conscientiousness on aging. The more skills someone has relating to these categories, the greater the benefit later in life, according to the findings.
Resilience is yet another key when you explore how to age well, according to Dr. Steven Southwick, professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and deputy director of the National Center for PTSD.
“When we’re faced with what aging can bring, even though we may feel threatened, if we believe we’re capable and have the resources to deal with it, we can interpret that threat as a challenge instead,” he tells Next Avenue.
In order to build up resilience and boost our ability to age well, Dr. Southwick suggests:
– Remaining socially connected, especially because loneliness and isolation are common among older adults.
– Maintaining a purpose, since those with a mission are typically stronger and more resilient.
– Exercising, which boosts resilience physically and emotionally.
– Practicing mindfulness and meditation, as calming ourselves sets us up to bounce back and living in the moment reduces stress.
Wisdom, of course, is another crucial skill as we figure out how to age well. But we must use our experiences appropriately so that wisdom benefits us, according to Dr. Dilip Jeste, professor of psychiatry and neurosciences and director of the Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego.
Using wisdom in our favor requires having control of our emotions, being self-reflective, accepting uncertainty and having the capacity to make good choices.
Many skills develop from a young age. But it’s never too late to learn or change our behavior for a more positive aging experience.
So do you have what it takes to age well?