The Hidden Health Sabotage of Older Age: Follow These 3 Tips to Help You Navigate Through It
It’s January. The holiday festivities and pressures are behind us and a new year stretches to the horizon – one filled with possibilities. It’s natural to think of new beginnings or re-commit to goals this time of year. Have you considered how specifically you’ll move closer to your goals?
Geometry of Time
Sometimes I find inspiration in the oddest places. While cleaning out clutter (one of my resolutions) I picked up The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson; a book on finance and business.
Scanning through the pages, a figure caught my eye describing what the author called the “geometry of time.” It shows two arrows seemingly parallel at first then separating – one curving sharply up and one curving sharply down.
As a finance book, he used this concept to illustrate that time is always moving and we make small choices every day that either take us towards or away from our financial goals.
At first, things seem pretty static but as our choices are compounded over time, their differences result in a sharp upward or downward curve.
Health Choices Compounded Over Time
This concept applies beautifully to healthy aging. Many people are afraid of the big challenges that might derail health: cancer, heart disease, or a traumatic injury. But it’s most often the small choices made day after day – compounded over time – that have the biggest impact on health outcomes.
Every single day we make dozens of choices that either support or diminish our chances of living with vitality through the full lifespan. We make choices about how much we move our body, what we eat, and how we spend our time.
These small choices made day after day will either enhance or diminish our physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and vocational wellbeing.
Consider visualizing a typical day, then week, in your life. Register the choices you make during your daily routines.
Do you make conscious choices about what you eat in the morning or just grab something by habit? Does that habitual choice actively support wellbeing?
How much do you really honestly move throughout the day? Do you take a few brisk walks to get your heart rate up? Do you deliberately reach, push, pull, bend, lift, carry, and in some way challenge your muscles to stay strong and mobile? What do you choose to fill your mind with?
Health – like life – is ever changing. Nothing stays exactly the same even when it appears that way (like the parallel arrows until they sharply curve). It would almost be better if our behaviors resulted in immediate feedback, i.e., after being sedentary for a week we couldn’t get out of bed!
But whether you see it or not, small choices you make day after day – your habits – have a tremendous impact on gradually moving you up or down the health curve, and they are absolutely compounded over time!
The new year is a great time to evaluate and re-calibrate. Contemplating this article, I realized that somewhere along the line I had stopped spending 10 minutes every morning reading uplifting books and meditating on positive affirmation statements.
I know this type of reading puts me in a positive frame of mind for the day, but I still allowed it to drop off the radar because I got too busy and started squeezing extra work in “before the work day starts.”
Gradually, that’s become my habit, and now I have to re-calibrate! I started today by re-reading another book on my shelf, If Life Is a Game These Are the Rules, by Cherie Carter-Scott. Written in 1998, this uplifting book is timeless!
Keep Choosing Wellbeing
Supporting lifelong vitality isn’t a choice you make once. It’s many different choices you make day after day about keeping a healthy physical body, filling your mind with thoughts that uplift rather than suppress gratitude and joy, taking the time to expand your social circle (rather than let it shrink due to neglect), building emotional agility and resilience (rather than getting stuck in anger or disappointment).
When clearing out clutter and starting fresh you evaluate each item to determine whether to keep or discard it. Try the same approach with your health habits and consciously choose the ones that help you travel up the health curve.
Visit Brilliant Aging for a free Vitality Portfolio® download to help you build and track healthy habits.
What new habit can you add to your routine that will uplift your physical wellbeing? What habits have you built around reaching out to friends and family or meeting new people to strengthen your social connections? Do you have positive readings, a gratitude practice, or specific actions you take on a regular basis to uplift emotional wellbeing? Please share them below.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor to get specific medical advice for your situation.