How To Stay Young At Heart When You Feel Old AF
Today is Youth Day.
But let’s face it, it’s been a few years since you were a youth. And even though you have yet to be called a boomer, you’ve lost your ability to metabolise dairy or wake up without back pain.
In other words, you’ve started aging. But amidst your growing resignation to grumpiness and aching joints, you still possess a faint – very faint – desire to stay young at heart.
After all, feeling youthful helps our bodies stay younger too. Researchers at University College London found that men and women who felt younger than their actual age lived longer than those who felt older than they really were.
As Albert Einstein once said, “Do not grow old, no matter how long you live.” So if you’d like to feel young without going into full-blown midlife crisis mode, here’s how:
1. Stop stigmatising aging
A couple of years ago, a marketing manager told me that the beauty brand she represented had replaced the term “anti-aging” with “youth-preserving.” I think about that a lot, even as I stock my shelves with retinols and eye creams. Age is not our enemy. So instead of defending ourselves against getting old, why not start habits that keep ourselves young? Exercising regularly won’t stop you from eventually getting wrinkled and grey, but at least you’ll feel energetic, rather than lethargic, when it starts to happen.
2. Know the difference between having an old soul and having an old spirit
Feeling old or young has less to do with your personality and interests, and more to do with your attitudes. If you’re under the age of 30, but spend your Friday nights crocheting and drinking tea, then you’re an old soul. If you regularly engage in philosophical conversations, or enjoy music from a bygone era, then you’ve also probably been told that you have an old soul. But if you tell young people that their dreams are dumb, if you think hope is a farce, and if you’ve shed every one of your ideals in favour of cynicism, then maybe you’ve got an old spirit. The key to staying young on the inside is always rekindle your idealism, to grow in resilience, and to know that it's never too late to try again.
3. Go HAM on skincare, exercising, and eating well
If you feel young, you’re likely to take care of your health and your appearance – no pain, no gain, right? But if you feel old, you’ll likely abandon exercise – “I’m too old for that anyway” – and you’ll be more likely to eat badly, because if death is imminent, then you might as well go out eating fries.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably not 99 years old and on your deathbed. Don’t resign yourself to a painful demise. The car you own might be destined for the scrapyard, but you still take care of it while it’s running, right? All the more you should take care of your body as long as you’re alive.
4. Challenge yourself to learn new things
As anyone who has tried to exercise after not working out for the entirety of the circuit breaker knows, you’ve gotta “use it or lose it”. Don’t become a boomer before your time. Keep up with technology, read new books, or pick up a new skill, like cooking or speaking a different language.
5. Give yourself permission to feel excited
One of the hallmarks of an old spirit is negativity. You feel disdainful of people and things, and you question everyone’s motives. You think being positive and getting excited about things is dumb. But remember how when you were a child, or even a young teenager, you could get excited about something as simple as eating chicken nuggets at McDonalds? Give yourself the permission to get excited about something like that now, even if it’s as mundane as ordering a new ironing board from Taobao.
Finally, if you know a youth - be it your niece, your nephew, or your intern - go hang out with them! Not as a peer, but as someone who is genuinely interested in their hopes and dreams. Play Animal Crossing with them, ask them what they watch on TV, find out what they do for fun and what they want in life. See them as full-fledged people, rather than as annoying teenagers. You might find that it's easier to close the generation gap than you expected.