It may sound simple, but all old people started out as young people. Along with being born, aging is the most universal experience all human beings have in common. Why is this part of a discussion about grieving?
While working as a fitness instructor, the single biggest cause of depression, stress and reckless behavior in adults I have observed is disappointment and frustration with the aging process. It is natural to mourn the loss of some of the opportunities our younger bodies provided us, but there is no reason to punish or put at risk our current selves.
For example, it is common for people to get so upset over weight gain brought on by a slowing metabolism that they do not want to exercise at all. This of course, results in additional weight gain and lack of muscle tone. Some of my clients have been very distraught by the new wrinkles they see developing. The stress they feel hunches their shoulders and neck forward, which ruins their posture, makes it difficult to breath deeply…and creates more wrinkles.
Another typical response to getting older is to begin or continue high-risk activities to “prove” that one is still vibrant. A person like this often tries to run a marathon even though they experience knee pain or may take up surfing despite a previous back problem. Instead of helping to build confidence and vitality, these choices can create or making worse, injuries that may last the rest of their lives.
Especially in North America it is popular to try to “fight” the signs of aging. The problem is that no one in the history of the world has ever succeeded at “fighting” the aging process. Realistically, not even the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt or wisest martial arts experts from Asia have actually stopped the effects of time on the human body. Getting “old” may feel like like a personal failure to many people. There is nothing less personal than the passage of time.
It IS possible to remain agile, capable, energetic and attractive for as long as possible. That is what I refer to as becoming an ADULT ATHLETE. We will be providing a range of exercise and wellness instruction here on BodyAwareGrieving.com designed to keep us fit and capable throughout our lives.
If we can gracefully accept the aspects of aging that we can not change, we will have more time, optimism and skill in focusing on the ways we really can improve our quality of life. Let’s choose our “battles” well and see if we can have as much fun as possible along the way!
Which aspects of being younger do you most miss? Are there advantages to being older that you really appreciate? What are your favorite ways to stay fit that are effective and gentle?