By Stacey Rose, PhD, LCSW
Each year that comes and goes reminds us that we are getting older. What does that mean to you and how are you coping? For some of us, it’s simply another opportunity to have a birthday celebration. Yet, for others, it is a clear reminder of our mortality. The ways in which we view the aging process can have a major impact on how we feel both physically and psychologically. So much of it boils down to our attitude.
Maybe you have heard the expression, “I am getting older but I don’t have to get old.” Feeling ‘old’ is more of a mindset than anything else. Have you ever met someone that you considered young but who seemed to act much older than their actual age? Or, maybe you know someone who you would consider ‘old’ but who acts ‘young’. Again, while we cannot change our chronological age, we can change our view on aging.
Oftentimes when I speak with clients who bring up concerns about their aging process, it leads us to a discussion about where they are in their life. In other words, are they proud of what they have accomplished by the age/stage of life they are in? Many people who struggle with getting older do not have as much of an issue with the number of years they have lived but instead are disappointed that they have not yet reached the level of expectations they had for themselves. If this is true for you, STOP right now. STOP what you are doing (after you are finished reading this article of course!) and write down what you want to accomplish by your next birthday. Make sure these are realistic, attainable goals that you can break down into manageable steps. If you can achieve what you want by yournext birthday, it will give you more to celebrate!
Another important factor about aging is fear. It is normal and understandable to have fears about getting older. As our bodies slow down and are not as agile as they used to be, it can create anxiety. Maybe you are afraid of becoming less independent or even afraid of the death and dying process. All of this is a part of the human experience. If you are strugglingwith any fear or anxiety that is getting in the way of you functioning, reach out for professional help. However, if you are scared but living each day to the fullest; you are clearly managing your fear well. Any time we think too much into the future, it can create anxiety. Let this be a reminder that all anyone really has is NOW. How is your NOW? Make the most of this very moment and if you continue to do that, you will likely feel more relaxed. NOW is all anyone has control over. It has been said, tomorrow is not here yet, and yesterday is gone, focus on your now.
Again, life can present many challenges; one of which is the aging process. Accepting that we are all getting older is the first step. The second and most important step is celebrating thatwe are all still here! Go make the most of your NOW and oh….