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Are You Getting Older or Better?

With this posting, I am introducing a colleague and guest blogger, Pamela Holtzman, who is a therapist I know locally.  Pamela is an R.N and L.C.S.W. who combines her medical background with a combination of cognitive therapy, traumatic release with EMDR and EFT and integrative psychotherapy, to facilitate wholeness and wellness, in her clients. Her perspectives on being well while getting older are worth sharing: 

“Have you had that birthday yet which made you suddenly realize that you really are getting older? I don’t mean older in a decrepit, breaking down way. I mean older in a wiser, stronger, and more mature way. I had discovered that I had reached that phase during my recent 60th birthday “initiation by storm” as I came face to face with IRENE, the Class 3 hurricane that wreaked havoc at the doorstep of our home in the Bahamas. What followed was a week-long power outage, and a chance to do a lot of soul searching.

As a result of a life-long practice of maintaining a healthy mind and body balance, I was able to remain calm, peaceful, and resourceful throughout this life altering and potentially devastating experience. How can you stay balanced through life’s unexpected challenges:

Be Present – learn and practice living in the here and now, don’t worry about the past or future. No matter what life is offering, take time to do a morning quieting practice. Good options are yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, or anything that includes a level of mindfulness.

Be Healthy – have regular medial check-ups, and use a preventative approach to health. A good place to start is by eliminating the four poisons from your diet: hydrogenated fats, high fructose corn syrup, processed foods, and sugar. Develop and maintain a routine of ample rest, and follow a Mediterranean diet (high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and cereals, nuts and seeds, oily fish, and olive or avocado oil, keeping red meat and diary to a minimum.) Try some new grains like farrow and quin. Make sure to drink plenty of water, and, of course enjoy a daily treat of dark chocolate.

Simplify – let go of what you don’t need. Clear that which creates clutter and/or complicates your life. This includes identifying and spending less time with ‘maintenance friends’ who rely upon you, but don’t offer reciprocity in your friendship. Decrease or eliminate activities that drain your energy, as opposed to replenishing your reserves. Remember balance.

Get Moving – of course there’s the physical benefits of exercise (increased bone density, muscular strength, endurance, energy, and better posture), but exercise also provides stress relief and improves mood. I have learned as I age –if I want to move, I’ve got to keep moving! It’s fun to mix up your routine and keep learning. Try Zumba, Nia, Barre, go to a dance class, or water aerobics. Keep exercise fun and playful, and do it every day.

Have a Massage – many enjoy getting one. But you don’t need to pay someone to enable your body to relax, detox and stimulate the lymphatic system. You can do reflexology for yourself on your hands or feet (it’s as good as a whole body massage.) Or try “dry brushing” before your shower, which natural detoxifies and is very stimulating.

Embrace Change – and recognize that change is good. It keeps your mind active, challenges flexibility, and opens up new ways of being in the world. Remember to soften into life, rather than contract in fear whenever you’re not familiar with a situation or are uncomfortable in life. Let go of the need to be right, to be heard, or be acknowledged. As you mature, you can learn to be comfortable with who you are without the need for outside validation.

Fill Your Soul and Spirit – learn to have fun. Think about what fills your reserves, what feels cohesive to your sense of self. For me, it is being with my grandchildren, or doing anything in nature. For you, it may be travel, volunteering service work, or just being home with a good book. You will be able to tell you’re being true to yourself because you will feel happy, rejuvenated and renewed.

If you want to continue to improve and grow as part of your aging process, it is necessary to continue working on balance and integration as part of your daily healthy lifestyle practice. Then, no matter what life challenges you face – you’ll be ready for them. For more information and techniques on healthy living, refer to my book Healthy Lifestyle Path of Wellness.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago.  Please email your questions to  Charlotte Bishop.


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