What Does It Mean to Age Gracefully?
The phrase “aging gracefully” is regularly tossed around but what does it actually mean? How can you incorporate grace as you move through life? Besides appearance and physical representation, exuding grace can have a much deeper, ethereal meaning. It’s an undeserved favor, unconditional forgiveness and kindness. And “aging gracefully” can mean practicing those qualities on yourself, through full self-acceptance and self-care. Keep reading for ways to incorporate these methods into your daily habits.
Self-acceptance means feeling content with yourself, including both the positive traits you possess and all the areas you may be working on or feel insecure about. Here are a few ways to practice more self-acceptance:
1. Make a List of Your Strengths and Achievements
Ask yourself, what do people compliment me on? What do I excel at? What are my very unique talents? Continue to add to this list and reread it frequently. This will help you focus on all the wonderful things you can be grateful for in your life. A glance at this list should make you feel happy and proud of yourself.
2. Forgive Yourself for Any Past Mistakes
While easier said than done, remove regret from your life by accepting that you did the best you could with the resources and knowledge you had at that time.
Remember what you learned from that experience.
3. Realize that Self-Acceptance Does NOT Mean Resignation or Giving Up
Instead, it simply means letting go of the past and the things out of your control. Self-acceptance is about focusing on the things that you can control such as how you react.
4. Think About Yourself with Kindness
How would you speak to a cherished loved one, such as a best friend or your own child? That’s how you should speak to yourself, with compassion and kindness.
5. Allow Yourself to Grieve Past Dreams
Life often takes a different route than we plan and we need room to grieve the achievements that didn’t happen. It’s healthier to allow yourself to feel sadness, regret or shame about plans that didn’t pan out. Then, move through these emotions, rather than bottle them up and avoid them.
Another way to practice some of these self-acceptance steps is with others and through a new program at BH in Spiritual Care called “Nobody Asked Me” (NAM), led by Howard Earle, Chaplin and Director of Spiritual Care. Each Tuesday in NAM, join a lively, candid discussion around the completion of the statement “nobody asked me.” Joining together to share and process our individual experiences will bring joy and healing.
A Self-Care Practice for Mental Health
The term “self-care” is now so common that the definition has been somewhat diluted. True care for yourself is actually the practice of protecting one’s own well-being, happiness, and health. This is especially important during periods of stress. The goal of caring for yourself is to bring peace, contentment and compassion to your mind and body. Each person may have their own way of reaching those feelings.
For some, learning a new skill or picking up a hobby is a great way to find more joy,
fulfillment, excitement, and meaning. Check out our weekly activities to find something completely new to try!
A great activity for mental health is journaling. We cannot write as fast as we think, so writing actually forces our minds to slow down and stay in the present moment.
For help processing emotions, working with a mental health professional can have enormous benefits at any stage of life. Seeking a professional for guidance can help you navigate and overcome some thought patterns and behaviors.
Meditating is a great way to remain calm and grounded in the present moment. It often involves intentional breathing, closing your eyes, remaining still, and giving yourself the opportunity to think about anything and everything, or nothing at all.
Reading a new book or re-reading your favorite book is also a great way to take care of your brain by engaging and entertaining your mind.
Self-Care Activities for Emotional Health
Emotional health is about how we cope with life’s happenings. Being aware of your emotions and reacting in healthy ways can help you feel good about aging. Staying connected to those who bring us joy and feeling a sense of purpose are two ways to improve emotional health.
A quick interaction can dramatically lift spirits and improve your day. Virtual connection is more possible than ever with Facetime, phone calls, and Zoom. However, face-to-face connection still offers important benefits. Try to prioritize being with people in person when you can. Make an effort to reach out and schedule plans to look forward to with family and friends.
Volunteering your time is a great way to feel a sense of purpose and also connect with others. It also has several benefits such as increased self-esteem, confidence, and life satisfaction. Think about ways your time and talents can be of use to those around you.
Aging With Grace
Aging truly is a privilege, and it can be done with grace. Each day, we have a chance to live life to the fullest by trying new things, taking care of ourselves, and enjoying those we love. Through self-acceptance and self-care, we can improve our mental, physical, and emotional health. Cheers to aging gracefully!