Move over anti-agers, hello super-agers! It’s about carrying your years, experience, wisdom and insight lightly, luminously, laughingly. Super-agers are those lovely, healthy, silver-haired folk, who blend beautifully with their surroundings yet stand out because they are so poised in their patience, exuding calm and acceptance as they wait for the traffic to stop or the last vehicle to vanish from the horizon to step across the road with sure steps.
My wish for you all… whether you’ve seen 50 summers or innumerable winters: be fit, be healthy. Let your body, mind, spirit be in concert. Be a super-ager. Dr Miriam Stoppard, 79, columnist and TV presenter, inspires when she says: “All through my life, each decade has been better than the last. As one of the oldies who trekked to India to see if retirement is better than the UK for the new BBC1 series The Real Marigold Hotel, I was struck by how fit you have to be to travel.”
Climate changes affect seniors too — with aches, pains, stiffness, even near-disability at times. And this trauma often leads to low spirits, helplessness and depression.
It’s huge, this hurrah to living, this magnificent statement of intent — make every year healthier, every decade better. Come rain, come shine, get fitter and fitter. Even more so in these climate-changing times. For, according to a study conducted by psychology students Esther Sukita and Ashwini K, climatic changes can lead to stress, anxiety, depression or a post-traumatic stress disorder, whatever be our age.
The study rates the vagaries of weather as one of the major causes for farmers’ suicides: “Any climate-change- related disaster will lead to a trauma which affects their (farmers’) normal conditions of living. It also leads to depression when unable to cope with the trauma, which, in turn, affects their performance level. When farmers don’t know how to cope, they end up committing suicide.”
Weather the weather.
Climate changes affect seniors too — with aches, pains, stiffness, even near-disability, at times. And this trauma often leads to low spirits, helplessness and depression. Helplessness stems from feeling conditions that are not in your control. In school, we were taught this bracing chant: “Whether the weather be hot/Or whether the weather be cold/Whether the weather be fine/Or whether the weather be not/We’ll weather the weather/Whatever the weather/Whether we like it or not!”
It’s an anthem for these times. Sure, we can’t control the climate. But we can weather it by being aware that climates are changing with the times. Be ready with warms when the chill blasts in, light cottons when the heat blazes, dry talcs and towels in humidity, water and creams in dry conditions. Take it in your stride literally by walking briskly, purposefully, powerfully, regularly. Life eases when you move. As my grandmother often said, “When blood circulates, bliss circulates.” And as a Chinese proverb exhorts: “Don’t be afraid of going slowly, only of standing still.” Be pro-active. Don’t get shaken, just awaken.
Reach out for remedies. Deal with aches by taking one calcium tablet a day, and a Vitamin D3 tablet every fortnight. By the third day, you’ll be ache-free. Please note: aches can be psychosomatic — felt but having no underlying physiological cause for them to exist. Wisdom does not say, “You are old, so it hurts”; it urges, “Do body-stretches to iron out those kinks in the muscles. It whispers, “Let the mind rise high above this ‘attitude ache’.” No medical technology can detect it, yet it exists for sure.
The cleaner the gut, the happier and more anxiety-free we are because the serotonin has space to weave its magic.
Have you ever clenched your fist so tight that it hurts? A negative attitude works the same way — the body throbs when you hold on tight to a perception. It could be simmering resentment at some perceived injustice done to you. It could be anger so intense that it blinds you to all that’s right in your life. It could be envy, an acid corroding your natural tendency to be happy and generous in others’ success. These awful negative emotions run deep and inflame muscle, bone, joint, nerves and the stomach.
Empty and refill.
Again, don’t feel helpless as you feel the familiar emotion and tension build up in you. You’ve got the power to neutralise the tension. Close your eyes gently and visualise all the unhealthy thoughts that cause tension flow out of your body through the toes and fingers, leaving you empty and clean.
Follow up the emptying procedure with a refilling process. Visualise thoughts composed of serenity, wholeness, peace and beauty pouring into your body and circulating through your entire being. It’s like having cool, crystal-clear water softly kneading muscle and bone, cleansing joints and stomach, soothing and healing nerves and leaving you utterly relaxed and reassured. When stress exits from the mind, it exits from the body. In this beautiful inner environment you’ve created, your immune system strengthens. You sleep better and feel hopeful and optimistic about life.
The emptying and refilling process should be carried out in the stomach too. A doctor tells me that 95 per cent of the body’s serotonin — a hormone that fills us with tranquil well-being — is in the gut. The cleaner the gut, the happier and more anxiety-free we are because the serotonin has space to weave its magic. Keep your meal simple with foods high in soft fibre — peeled fruits, vegetables, whole grains cooked soft. After a meal, chew a teaspoon of unroasted cumin seeds to prevent gas, acidity and discomfort. Avoid or eat sparingly meat, paneer, cheese, cabbage, white flour, chips and sugar. These are gut-unfriendly. Increase water intake and take carrot juice which is better absorbed than even water by the body’s membranes.
One exercise effectively helps gut-cleansing. Abdominal crunches strengthen stomach muscles which then squeeze the food with greater force and make both digesting nutrients as well as discarding wastes easier.
Freshen the brain
The brain regenerates too in the healthy living climate you’ve created. The regions ruled by emotions remain thick, young, resilient, not thinned by age, negativity or neglect. Continue to freshen it with beautiful words like Peace, Harmony, Quietness, Beauty, Order and Serenity. Walk in the sun — it pours golden optimism into you. Don’t lose yourself in loneliness but in loving, listening, learning. Gift yourself quiet, nourishing moments. A new study suggests watching birds as an excellent healing afternoon activity. Feel all the tension drain out of you as you watch the flight in grace, the skilful swoop, the wings undulating in the air… As Bryant McGill says, “You came to this world to grow and to explore and to touch the miracles and marvels of life.” Allow yourself to be overtaken by joy as Nature composes her loveliest poems for you.
The writers are authors of the book ‘Fitness for Life’ and teachers of the Fitness for Life programme.