I started to experience aging anxiety only when I hit 30. Until then I never really bothered, and it's understandable. What triggered it was seeing changes in my skin and overall appearance. I must say that it took me a while due to probably healthy lifestyle and genetics, or I was simply in denial. Yes, I think I was in denial of my aging for a long time. What I think it did was exacerbated by anxiety even more, as I was distracting myself from thinking about aging as well as concealing the signs of it as much as I could. Hair dye has become one of those coping strategies for me. And it's not that I think there is something wrong with dyeing your gray strands (if you have it), I think that inner peace comes with embracing change, admitting that it's there and accepting it. At least that’s what I found useful in my life.
I have previously talked about how much pressure we as women feel when it comes down to our looks. Our looks pretty much represent our value, and that's why we all fear aging (besides existential fear of death, of course). So, one of the most important things that I think we should all work on is changing our mindset: our age does not equal our value, our looks do not equal our worth. Before you roll your eyes in disbelief, please understand that change of societal stereotypes starts with each one of us. It starts with you and I believing in our worth despite the factors we can’t control.
Seeing age as something positive
Aging isn't something we can change, so we must learn to accept changes that come with it and try to see them in a positive light. I often think that many people were not given this wonderful gift of life. Do we really want to be trapped mourning over something that has passed and can't be brought back, fighting the inevitable or we shall choose to enjoy life that we have now? For myself I choose the second option. It doesn't mean I don't struggle with insecurity or that I am always confident but focusing on the positive side of aging helps me deal with the hardships that come with it. It gives me strength and promotes inner peace. Acceptance starts with very small steps, and it is a long-term journey that I committed to.
Focusing on what we have gained with age as oppose to what we have lost is incredibly important. For everyone it's going to be different, but for me it's wisdom. I have always thought I was wise but right now I understand that my way of thinking "has improved" over the years. I know much more now what is important and what's not worth my time and worries. Of course, just like everything, it's still work in progress. I am nowhere near being a "wisdom guru", but I am much better now, even when it comes down to dealing with my anxiety.
Having real expectations
Having real expectations is another aspect of aging that I would like to talk about. With photo filters and cosmetic surgeries, it's hard to know who really looks the way they do and who simply fakes it. So, before you start asking yourself why you don't look like them, think: do they really look like this or they also have "imperfections" that they are insecure about? The answer is probably obvious, yet our mind still wonders around looking at those images. That's why I always say that it's important to choose who we follow online (what information we consume) carefully. If those social media accounts, for example, trigger some self-hating tendencies in you instead of motivating you to be better, maybe it's time to unfollow. It's a must to have a general understanding how most women look at a certain age, in real life of course. Some people might look younger than others due to genetics, financial status, and lifestyle, but large pores and wrinkles are still a normal part of aging for everyone. We can slow down the process, but we can't avoid it completely.
Focusing on health
Finally, I want to inspire you to focus on health, mental and physical. Even though I totally understand how important it is for many of us to look great. Stress doesn't help with that, in fact, constant stress can ruin our physical health. Remember, that when we feel good physically and take care of our mental health, we gain more control over our lives and as a result will feel happier and more confident.
Not every day is going to be the same, and if sometimes you wake up feeling like today you are not looking great, focus on eating healthier foods, mediate, exercise, do everything that is in your control (and what you enjoy) to get that sense of power back. Eventually (maybe even the day after) you will see a difference.
Years from now, I am sure, all these worries about new wrinkles, single gray strands and cellulite won’t matter to us anymore. But what will always matter is our health, our relationship and inner peace. Let’s make it our priority. Everything else is secondary.
I hope this blog post was interesting and/or helpful for you, my friend. One more thing is true: I see you; I feel your struggle. I send you love and sparkles of light. Until next time on Pillows&Trees.