What if the secret to the Fountain of Youth was just imagining, with all your might, that you were a younger age? Does the way we think about age actually affect our aging process? Why do some people seem to stay young forever while others age, let’s just say… not as gracefully? Science suggests that “[we’re] only as old as [we] think and do”.1 So before turning to supplements, creams, and health elixirs, you may want to change your way of thinking.
“Research suggests that subjective age changes on a daily basis and older adults feel significantly younger on days when they have a greater sense of control,” says Jennifer Bellingtier, Ph.D., of Friedrich Schiller University. The greater question then is, how does one start feeling a greater sense of control? Well, it can start off as simple as changing your thinking from “time is fleeting” to owning the now.
The study followed 116 seasoned adults aged 60 through 90, and 106 younger adults aged 18 through 36 for a total of nine days. Each day the two groups were given a survey which had them respond to a “series of statements on the level of control they felt they had each day and were asked how old they felt that day.”2
Surprisingly, the study showed a correlation between the level of control the older adult group had over the day and the age they felt. This was not seen in the younger group.
The article, posted in Science Daily, suggests that one of the ways to help garner a better sense of control could be meetings with a therapist. This way individuals can discuss ways they can directly influence events and how to properly respond to situations they cannot control (like growing older, for example). Also, in nursing home situations, allowing the residents to make more choices in their daily lives could help create a greater sense of control.
However, one of the greatest things that seems to be overlooked is fitness and nutrition. These are two very basic (yet key) things in helping to create a better sense of control. Practicing healthy eating and exercise habits helps decrease health problems, increases longevity, and even helps with maintaining a youthful appearance.
The takeaway: Think younger, feel younger. Exercise control over your life where you can, and that can start in your mind. And lastly, never forget age is just a number – meaning it’s never too late to take control!
- American Psychological Association. “You’re only as old as you think and do: Increased control, physical activity lower subjective age in older adults, research says.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180809141122.htm>.