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Scientists Dig Out Why You May Be Aging Faster Than Your Friends

Scientists Dig Out Why You May Be Aging Faster Than Your Friends

You know what gets me? All those friends and ex-colleagues who are off to India, planning on following courses (such as cooking and gardening), going to the theatre every week — and they are all the same age (or even older) than me! They look younger too. Not only that, it also seems I am aging faster than they are. So, what is their secret? I was determined to find out.

I wanted to go a bit deeper than the usual lifestyle hints about obesity, smoking, and getting exercise. Here are 5 surprising facts which will help you to slow down the aging process.

1. Anxiety and phobias raise their ugly heads

Did you know that 8% of Americans (mostly women) suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder or phobia? When it comes to social phobias, they feel very uneasy when they are with company. Then there are lots of other phobias which are really interfering with their enjoyment of life. The bad news is that these phobias cause faster aging. A research team from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed over 5,000 women between the ages of 42 and 69 and found those who were suffering from phobic anxiety were not aging well at all. The best way to solve the problem is to get help through cognitive behavior therapy to try and keep your anxiety under control so you can live a longer and happier life.

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2. Mediterranean diet will help you age better

As our cells age, the DNA telomeres get shorter and shorter. If we are to halt the advance of aging, the secret is to keep those telomeres as long as possible, thus helping us live to a ripe old age. You may be wondering how a Mediterranean diet can help with this?

The British Medical Journal has published a very interesting study showing that the Mediterranean diet helps the most with longevity, when compared to other cultural diets. This study followed 23,000 men and women who had no major illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, or heart disease. Those who were on the Mediterranean diet had a significantly longer life. Just in case you have forgotten what this diet is all about and want to catch up on those friends, try changing your diet to include more olive oil, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Cut down on meat and fish.

The best news of all is that you need not worry obsessively about putting on a few extra pounds. This diet will also help smooth out wrinkles, making you look younger. Chocolate was once the number one fat enemy. It is now the doyen of anti-aging foods!

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3. Don’t be lonely

With advancing years, you are always tempted to do less because you simply have not got enough energy. This sort of decline in activity often means your social contacts start to wither and die. You give fewer dinner parties. To put it simply, you are just alone a lot of the time. You may like being alone; however, when that turns to loneliness, then you may be shortening your life. Loneliness is the number one enemy for aging faster. There are lots of studies to prove just that. One research study found that the lonelier people who were studied experienced a 40% percent more rapid decline in movement and agility. This sort of decline in motor activity is also linked to a 50% increased risk of death. The only solution to reduce both loneliness and inactivity is to get moving again, preferably in the company of others.

“Social contact is a fundamental aspect of human existence. The scientific evidence is that being socially isolated is probably bad for your health, and may lead to the development of serious illness and a reduced life span.” – Andrew Steptoe – University College, London.

4. Antidepressants may reduce your lifespan

I bet you that any 90 or 100 year old person you know was never on antidepressants, nor had them prescribed for even a very short period of time. How can I make such a bold claim? Does this really mean that antidepressants can shorten your life?

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Let’s look first at how many people are on these drugs. A CDC report from 2011 shows that 11% of the American population are on antidepressants. The bad news is that these meds have long term negative side effects. The worst news of all is that they can shorten your life. Lots of studies show that there is an increased risk of death in the over 50s. One study shows that critically ill patients who are on these meds were more likely to die when admitted to intensive care units.

When depressed patients were asked about taking all those meds, they said that would have liked more choices in treatment. They also said that more attention could have been given to counselling, dieting, and the importance of physical exercise.

5. Reduce your sun exposure

Nobody can claim that the sun will directly shorten your life. However, too much sun exposure will age your skin and increase your chances of getting skin cancer. This could mess up your plans for living longer and looking great. The key is to get sunshine in moderation and sufficient protection because it can really benefit you. The Vitamin D from sunshine has enormous health potential.

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“If I had to choose a religion, the sun as the universal giver of life would be my god.”- Napoleon Bonaparte

Now that you know what those friends never told you, take a long hard look at your lifestyle and see what you can change. You might as well start to overtake them in the age race!

Featured photo credit: Ageing – 1979 and 2008. I feel old!/ Roger Blackwell via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 3, 2020

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

The 10 Essential Habits of Positive People

Are you waiting for life events to turn out the way you want so that you can feel more positive about your life? Do you find yourself having pre-conditions to your sense of well-being, thinking that certain things must happen for you to be happier? Do you think there is no way that your life stresses can make you anything other than “stressed out” and that other people just don’t understand?  If your answer is “yes” to any of these questions, you might find yourself lingering in the land of negativity for too long!

The following are some tips to keep positive no matter what comes your way. This post will help you stop looking for what psychologists call “positivity” in all the wrong places!  Here are the ten essential habits of positive people.

1. Positive people don’t confuse quitting with letting go.

Instead of hanging on to ideas, beliefs, and even people that are no longer healthy for them, they trust their judgement to let go of negative forces in their lives.  Especially in terms of relationships, they subscribe to The Relationship Prayer which goes:

 I will grant myself the ability to trust the healthy people in my life … 

To set limits with, or let go of, the negative ones … 

And to have the wisdom to know the DIFFERENCE!

 2.  Positive people don’t just have a good day – they make a good day.

Waiting, hoping and wishing seldom have a place in the vocabulary of positive individuals. Rather, they use strong words that are pro-active and not reactive. Passivity leads to a lack of involvement, while positive people get very involved in constructing their lives. They work to make changes to feel better in tough times rather than wish their feelings away.

3. For the positive person, the past stays in the past.

Good and bad memories alike stay where they belong – in the past where they happened. They don’t spend much time pining for the good ol’ days because they are too busy making new memories now. The negative pulls from the past are used not for self-flagellation or unproductive regret, but rather productive regret where they use lessons learned as stepping stones towards a better future.

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4. Show me a positive person and I can show you a grateful person.

The most positive people are the most grateful people.  They do not focus on the potholes of their lives.  They focus on the pot of gold that awaits them every day, with new smells, sights, feelings and experiences.  They see life as a treasure chest full of wonder.

5. Rather than being stuck in their limitations, positive people are energized by their possibilities.

Optimistic people focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do.  They are not fooled to think that there is a perfect solution to every problem, and are confident that there are many solutions and possibilities.  They are not afraid to attempt new solutions to old problems, rather than spin their wheels expecting things to be different this time.  They refuse to be like Charlie Brown expecting that this time Lucy will not pull the football from him!

6. Positive people do not let their fears interfere with their lives!

Positive people have observed that those who are defined and pulled back by their fears never really truly live a full life. While proceeding with appropriate caution, they do not let fear keep them from trying new things. They realize that even failures are necessary steps for a successful life. They have confidence that they can get back up when they are knocked down by life events or their own mistakes, due to a strong belief in their personal resilience.

7. Positive people smile a lot!

When you feel positive on the inside it is like you are smiling from within, and these smiles are contagious. Furthermore, the more others are with positive people, the more they tend to smile too! They see the lightness in life, and have a sense of humor even when it is about themselves. Positive people have a high degree of self-respect, but refuse to take themselves too seriously!

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8. People who are positive are great communicators.

They realize that assertive, confident communication is the only way to connect with others in everyday life.  They avoid judgmental, angry interchanges, and do not let someone else’s blow up give them a reason to react in kind. Rather, they express themselves with tact and finesse.  They also refuse to be non-assertive and let people push them around. They refuse to own problems that belong to someone else.

9. Positive people realize that if you live long enough, there are times for great pain and sadness.

One of the most common misperceptions about positive people is that to be positive, you must always be happy. This can not be further from the truth. Anyone who has any depth at all is certainly not happy all the time.  Being sad, angry, disappointed are all essential emotions in life. How else would you ever develop empathy for others if you lived a life of denial and shallow emotions? Positive people do not run from the gamut of emotions, and accept that part of the healing process is to allow themselves to experience all types of feelings, not only the happy ones. A positive person always holds the hope that there is light at the end of the darkness.  

10. Positive person are empowered people – they refuse to blame others and are not victims in life.

Positive people seek the help and support of others who are supportive and safe.They limit interactions with those who are toxic in any manner, even if it comes to legal action and physical estrangement such as in the case of abuse. They have identified their own basic human rights, and they respect themselves too much to play the part of a victim. There is no place for holding grudges with a positive mindset. Forgiveness helps positive people become better, not bitter.

How about you?  How many habits of positive people do you personally find in yourself?  If you lack even a few of these 10 essential habits, you might find that the expected treasure at the end of the rainbow was not all that it was cracked up to be. How could it — if you keep on bringing a negative attitude around?

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I wish you well in keeping positive, because as we all know, there is certainly nothing positive about being negative!

Featured photo credit: Janaína Castelo Branco via flickr.com

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