The way you view aging can affect how well you manage stress.
Older people who see aging negatively have stronger (negative) emotional reactions to day-to-day stresses, while such events have little effect on the moods of adults who are more positive about getting older. Their sunny outlook acts as a buffer against little annoyances.
That’s not all. People who carry negative views also have lower levels of satisfaction and well-being. And they’re more likely to be hospitalized or die young, according to research published in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.
Surveys by the nonprofit West Health Institute and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago found that the time to gain a positive perspective on aging is early in life — your 30s and 40s. This is when many people start to have general concerns about the future, such as facing health and financial issues, developing memory problems and losing their independence.
The survey found increasing worry among younger people that government programs don’t — and won’t — do enough for seniors.
What can you do to ward off such worries? Stay on top of lifestyle habits that help you avoid serious health threats, like diabetes and heart disease, and that maintain mental sharpness. These include eating a healthful diet, doing regular exercise and getting enough sleep.
But beyond activities that benefit your physical side, add in those that boost mental health. Consider volunteering to develop “emotional capital,” as in mentoring programs that allow you to share what you’ve learned in life with the next generation.
Read more about the NORC survey findings through reports posted on its website.
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