How to use your mind to feel and look younger
Think Younger To Feel Younger
You’ve likely heard the saying “you’re only as old as you feel.” Now new research suggests that how you feel may, in turn, dictate how you act. In surveys of adults ages 66 to 98, University of Exeter researchers found that those who identified themselves as “frail” were more likely to give up activities such as physical exercise and social participation.
“Once you identify yourself as frail and give up those activities, you encounter further problems with health, increasing the likelihood that you’ll think of yourself as frail,” says study author Krystal Warmoth, PhD, from the University of Exeter.
Fortunately, you can turn the tables simply by tweaking what you say to yourself. Here’s how to reframe your thinking.
Instead of: “I’m so frail”
Say: “Maybe I’m not as robust as I once was, but I can still get around—and I'll feel better if I go out more.”
“ ‘I’m so frail’ is an automatic thought,” says Carolyn Becker, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist at Trinity University in San Antonio. “If you don’t pause to identify it as athought, the mind perceives it as a truth or reality, which can have a devastating impact.” By identifying the statement as a thought, you put some distance between you and the statement so you’re less likely to identify with it. Plus, offering yourself something you can do about it—such as getting out a little more or seeing your friends—further acknowledges that it’s not inevitable and you can do something about it.
Instead of: “I’m so fat”
Say: “What am I going to wear today?”
You may be tempted to reach for those frumpy sweats, but resist. “If you really want to change how you feel about your body, behave in a way that’s opposite to what you’re thinking,” Becker says. “We don’t like to feel hypocritical, so if your actions and beliefs are misaligned, it can be really uncomfortable to keep thinking something that doesn’t match how you’re acting.” When you wear clothes you love, prepare nutritious meals, and make time for a gym session, those “fat” thoughts become less salient and are likely to be replaced with thoughts of feeling healthy and active. Try our 14 Walking Workouts To Boost Energy for easy ways to be more active.
Instead of “I’m so tired”
Say: “Why am I so tired?”
Phrasing the statement as a question sets your mind on a path toward problem solving, Becker says. Otherwise you’re more likely to participate in activities that perpetuate the thought. “If your answer to the question is ‘because I’ve been sitting all day,’ then you may realize that if you moved around instead of lying down you’d feel a lot better,” Becker says.
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