Having recently turned 40, the idea of what it means to age has generally been on my mind a lot lately. At no other time in my life did I ever care or even think of my age as a significant number, or anything really. Even when I turned 39, I just saw the moment as another birthday, that one day of the year where you get pampered and drink champagne with friends.
I honestly also never considered myself as someone who would ever care about age. It never mattered. But something about turning 40 changed that. I don’t know if it’s because of the big deal that everyone makes when you cross the line into your 40s, or if it’s those extra grey hairs that you all of a sudden notice, or the fact that you can’t party until 3 in the morning and feel ok and look great the next day (remember when you could do that in your 20s?!).
Whatever the reason, I now often catch myself just randomly having conversations with people and prefacing it with things like, “well you know I’m old, I’m 40,” or “it gets even harder when you’re 40,” which I find super odd because I’ve been 40 for about 4 months, so what would I know?
And I know that if you’re in your 50s, 60s, 70s, or beyond, you’re probably laughing at me right now thinking, girl, wait until you’re 50 or 60, but here we are. I turned 40 and I’m trying to answer the question what it means to age, but especially what it means to age well.
A huge part of ageing is realizing you look different. This really got me. Everyone is super nice all the time, telling me that I don’t look a day over 35 etc, but I know that I’ve aged physically. I can see it on my face, my body, my skin. It happens to all of us. But it’s the realization of this I think that gets most of us.
You might feel 30 at heart, but when you look in the mirror your face may say something different. And this is where I would say most of us start to feel anxious. This is where that correlation of age with physical appearance comes into play and it’s so strong. It’s probably safe to say that when most people love how they look on the outside, they probably feel pretty great on the inside, and vice versa. Which is where the importance of self-care comes in.
Not because we necessarily want to look younger. It’s not about turning back the clock. It’s about enhancing features that make us feel confident and good about ourselves. When we feel good, when we feel happy, there’s less stress and less anxiety—two major contributing factors that age us faster both on the inside and out.
Exercise and Health
This is a big one too. It’s probably safe to say that balancing a healthy diet and exercise routine will definitely help in the ageing well department, and it’s an extension of self-care. Not to say that this is an easy one! You might work A LOT, or work full time and have kids, and your kids mostly like eating, well, kid food, which they can metabolize in under a second. You? Not so much.
And then to relax you may prefer to have that glass of wine over jumping on your Peloton or treadmill at the end of the day. Trust me, I definitely get it. But again, it’s really not about being as fit as Gal Gadot.
Eating well and exercising, when we can stick with it, makes us feel good physically and definitely makes us healthier, but it also has an impact on the quality of our skin. It also speaks to this idea that if we feel really good about ourselves, if we feel fit and healthy, we’re going to be more energized, we’re going to be more clearheaded, and overall we’re going to feel happier. And happiness seems to really be at the crux of ageing well. When you’re happy it shows physically in all the right ways.
Mental and Emotional Wellness
As much as ageing well often makes us think about our physical appearance, how we can keep those wrinkles at bay, how we can keep our skin looking healthy and rejuvenated, age is not only about what we look like but also about our mental well-being and how we feel.
Sure, no one can be happy ALL THE TIME—life happens, sad things happen, unforeseen things that throw us for a loop happen—but it’s important to have coping strategies and family and friend support structures in place for when these things come up.
And it’s also super important to give ourselves a little “me” time here and there. Whether it’s going for that relaxing massage or facial peel treatment, or if it’s simply having a coffee and reading a book, whatever your “me” time is, make time for it.
Oh, and in my experience the people that have always aged well are the people who have had fun. Have fun, smile, laugh. Don’t worry about the laugh lines, we’ve got you covered for that 😉
Generally though, these are just some of the few things that come to mind when I think about what it means to age well, but it’s so so personal. Ageing well means that you do you. Do what makes you happy and what makes you feel good and you’ll be forever young.