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AGING WELL NOW
You’re Never Too Old For New Habits
Aug. 12, 2022
When you have foggy menopause brain, it can be hard to make healthy (or any) changes. Rather than dwell in negativity, try this three-part strategy.
I love big, audacious goals. But if our menopausal years have taught us anything, it’s that change isn’t easy.
We’re at an age when our lifestyle is dictated by deeply ingrained habits, and it feels like we’re at the mercy of our ever-fluctuating hormones; from mood swings to insomnia, hot flashes and a body that looks and feels unfamiliar.
It’s easy to feel defeated. The good news is that it's never too late to make life changes. But to do so, you may need a new strategy that’s less focused on the goals themselves and more on the psychological rewards along the way.
The challenge is that we live in a culture where “the hustle” is celebrated. Because of this, we’re willing to sacrifice our physical, mental and emotional health for success. But who can embrace the new when they're depleted, overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted? No one, that's who!
If you want to make big life changes, then your strategy needs to include movement, rest and self-expression. So, what I'm urging you to do is to not focus on your big goals. You've got enough on your plate! Instead, try this three-part strategy for three weeks before tackling the big stuff. Chances are, by then, you will have laid the foundation for all that big stuff — and it won't feel so big.
Part 1: MOVEMENT
Our bodies are meant to move. And not just to whittle our waists and sculpt our muscles. Joseph Pilates understood the psychological rewards of exercise, even asserting that, “Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness." Imagine exercising not for aesthetic goals, but for an endorphin rush that will boost your mood and confidence as much as your mental clarity, and productivity.
It’s far easier to let go of deeply ingrained habits when they don’t support your happiness. Plus, all those feel-good hormones make you more amenable to new habits you might otherwise consider burdensome or inconvenient.
It’s a relief to know that “movement” doesn’t have to consume too much of our packed schedules. In fact, the CDC recommends about 30 minutes of exercise a day, at least 5 days per week for healthy adults. So, whether it’s Pilates, Zumba, or a power-walk with a friend, find a physical activity that you love and grab your dose of happiness.
Part 2: REST
As much as our happiness depends on movement, don’t miss out on the psychological rewards of rest; including better concentration and memory, reduced stress and improved mood.
“Anxiety, the illness of our time, comes primarily from our inability to dwell in the present moment," Tchich Nhat Hanh said. When you allow for downtime, it creates space to experience gratitude, listen to your intuition, gain clarity and develop your creativity. Those are key to making healthy choices in alignment with your goals. And it might only require a few minutes of meditation, a therapeutic massage, time with your pet or some nature bathing.
Part 3: SELF-EXPRESSION
We’re emotional beings, too, that thrive on honest self-expression. Joan Didion said, “I write to know what I’m thinking… what I want and what I fear.” The psychological rewards for expressing your truth are self efficacy and a growth mindset. It’s a way to build trust in yourself and in possibility.
So, whether you express yourself through writing, art, music, dance or talk therapy, celebrate your positive emotions and release the ones that congest your energy. Unexpressed emotions such as fear, anger, and sadness reinforce negative beliefs about yourself and the world around you. And they inhibit your ability to make choices that resonate with your intuition.
And if you don’t allow yourself to feel and process those emotions, they can get harbored in your body creating physical pain, discomfort and sometimes illness.
The psychological rewards of movement, rest and self expression are exactly what you need to embrace all of life’s changes—from menopause to chasing those big audacious goals. This healthy trifecta invokes happiness, clarity, confidence and a belief in the possibility that, well, you are never too old for new habits.
Get guidance on movement, nutrition and overall wellness with the Phenology App. Download it and ask the Phenology Coaches your questions—they're Registered Dietitians trained in menopause-related topics, and they're ready to give their advice via one-on-one, text-based chat. Click here to get the app!
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