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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 September 10, 2019

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

1. Gratitude

Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

Gratitude-Quotes

    2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

    This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

    For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

    What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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    Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

    3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

    This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

    Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

    An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

    Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

    write down goals

      4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

      According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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      There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

      5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

      Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

      Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

      6. Rise Earlier

      The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

      For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

      So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

      Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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      7. Listen to Uplifting Music

      Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

      Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

      It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

      Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

      More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

      Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
      [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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