Sometimes I feel about 100 as I look dispassionately and without recognition at the younger me in old photos. It's not my face that's changed, it's what I do, what I think and how I feel. But I'm not ready to get old yet, and I think the key is in my head.
It seems that I've always thought this way too. Before Pinterest I used to be hoarder of bits of paper and cuttings from magazines, from pretty ideas to tart up my home (those were the days when I cared) to random articles about stuff that interested or inspired me. During a recent decluttering session I sadly chucked a huge pile of them into the recycling bin. But one or two I kept, including a tiny article from ten years ago on a talk given by a Trinity College Dublin Professor about how to keep your brain sharp as you grow older.
I read through it again, and it's a beautifully simple manifesto for ageing well:
Here's how I'm doing...
Yep, boringly this is a top priority for me. My mantra is that too little exercise is never too little, so long as you do something. And since I can still run a mile, touch my toes and do a passable handstand I must be doing something right.
I need to be fit and flexible so that I can manage the physical side of looking after a disabled young adult and get the energy and endorphins to keep going every day. For me exercise is not an indulgence or a luxury, it's a necessity.
Verdict: not too bad
Hopefully blogging covers some of this (and maybe tweeting too?) but I'm a failure at cryptic crosswords and I can't concentrate on worthy books or find an interest in cerebral games like chess.
Verdict: could do better.
Learn New Things
As long as it doesn't include studying, exams and even more stress in my life, then I'm all in favour of learning new things. I'm loving my dance lessons and picking up technical skills from developing this blog. I'm not loving all the caring, DIY and home-making skills that I've had to learn, but if it helps me do my job for longer then that's a good thing, right?
Verdict: doing okay given all the constraints.
How? Modern life is designed to be stressful it seems. On top of all the usual challenges that life throws at people, we now have constant change, the ever-increasing pace of technology, piles of paperwork to manage and higher expectations in every sphere of life, from parenting to housekeeping to personal presentation - how rare is it to see a teenager with spots now? They're all being treated with antibiotics, we just washed our faces, squeezed them when our mums weren't looking and hoped for the best!
So of course we have to spend even more time that we don't have trying to reduce our stress levels just so we can function at all. Hence exercise above and saying 'no' a lot more. They both help. A bit.
Verdict: no chance.
I eat lots of healthy home cooked food, but the problem is that I eat lots of home baked food too. Basically I eat lots of food, and if it begins with the letter 'C', you can be sure that it features in my diet far too often...
Verdict: could eat less, could cut out sugar.
Widen Your Social Circle
Isn't that what Facebook is for? The problem is that I have become a bit reclusive in real life, at least by my standards. My happiest years were when I was at College staying in a student flat with 13 others, going to lectures all day and out all night. I was rarely alone. Of course that's true now too, but only because I have 3 children at home with me. Making an effort to go out and meet other people would definitely be a good thing.
Verdict: get out that front door more often.
"I'm too old to..." must be the kiss of death for thinking young, so I try not to do it! How do you think young? Mix with younger people, question everything, be hopeful and passionate and caring? I like to think so.
Verdict: With my Dad as inspiration I hope to manage this.
So that's my report card on feeling younger and ageing well, and I'm doing better than I thought! What would yours look like?