40 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make After 40 from 40 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make After 40

40 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make After 40

Full Story
40 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make After 40
iStock

40 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make After 40

Getting old is not a punishment, but you have to make some minor adjustments. Aside from the healthy changes that need to occur – stop smoking, start eating vegetables and exercise more – certain lifestyle habits should be adopted. This is how getting older has actual perks. Now that you’re behind all the drama of your younger years – you are probably more confident and feel like you have a purpose – it’s time to start benefiting. Acquire better and more fun habits now because they will catch up to you later. Reap the rewards instead of seeing signs of premature aging.  

Take walks in nature
iStock

Take walks in nature

Research has shown that merely a walk in the park can calm the mind, while changing the way the brain works to improve mental health. According to science, people who spend time in parks cope better with stress, feel happier and have more self-esteem.

Be a romantic
iStock

Be a romantic

It’s better even from a scientific perspective. Increasing warm touch among couples has a beneficial influence on multiple stress-sensitive systems, according to a study. They key is the hormone oxytocin. Its nickname is “the love hormone.” Intimacy helps its production. Holding hands and hugging will do the trick as well.

Smile more
iStock

Smile more

Just try it – see how even forcing yourself to smile will put you in a better mood, at the very least, experiments show.  Smiling basically throws a party in your brain. It triggers the release of neuropeptides that work toward fighting off stress. The serotonin acts as an anti-depressant and a mood lifter.

Laugh even more
iStock

Laugh even more

Laughter will increase your heart rate in the beginning, but this will follow by a few moment of muscle relaxation and a lower blood pressure, according to medical reviews. All of these help reduce the risk of heart disease. There is also a fitness benefit of laughing – stronger abs. Laughing is a physical activity that causes your stomach muscles to contract, just like when you’re doing crunches and other abs exercises.

Mediate every day
iStock

Mediate every day

Set aside at least 5 to 10 minutes and you won’t regret. The benefits come in several forms -  less stress, emotional health, controlled anxiety, and even a longer attention span. Mindfulness is defined as paying attention in the present moment. A study found that after an 8-week meditation course, participants’ ability to focus and keep their attention was improved.

Travel every chance you get
iStock

Travel every chance you get

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Looking forward to something is an exciting feeling. Planning a big trip, for example, can only boost your happiness and research supports that theory. Keeping your mind active and preoccupied with joyful concerns keeps negative thoughts away. Traveling also keeps you concentrated on something that brings you positive emotions.

Don’t live alone
iStock

Don’t live alone

Either with a partner, a friend, or just a roommate. People who are happily married actually live longer than people who are single or divorced. Some science backs this up. Also, don’t underestimate one of the most obvious perks of companionship: emotional support. You have a shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen. This is pretty much “an at-home therapist.”

Be an optimist
iStock

Be an optimist

Optimism helps people cope with disease and recover from surgery, according to Harvard Medical School, which reviewed several studies. The impact of a positive outlook on overall health and longevity has been impressive. An optimistic outlook early in life can predict better health and a lower rate of death during follow-up periods of up to 40 years.

Socialize more
iStock

Socialize more

Studies show people that have connections with small or large groups of people have stronger immune systems. Meet people at dinner, at the bar, by the pool, or during an exciting excursion. Find a workout buddy to keep you motivated and hit up the top deck running track together. Supportive interactions also help the endocrine and cardiovascular functions and decrease allostatic load, which reflects wear and tear on the body.

But not online
iStock

But not online

You are probably already on the digital bandwagon and you check your social media profiles a gazillion times a day, spend your lunch breaks on your computer and bring your phone with you even in the bathroom. Nothing can replace human-to-human interaction. The dangers of spending too much time in the digital world have been known for some time. Don’t cut yourself off from the world.  Apple is even introducing new features to reduce interruptions and manage Screen Time.

Set some alone time just for you
iStock

Set some alone time just for you

If Anita Lane, certified breakthrough coach, was to give one piece of advice to people about how to ways to love themselves more, it would be, she says, to start by making a statement that they will practice self-care and start choosing activities to support that declaration. Tell yourself “I’m my own best friend’” to help you make baby steps towards feeling better about yourself, she adds.

Volunteer often
iStock

Volunteer often

Helping others makes people feel happier, purposeful and self-confident, according to a York University study that included more than 700 people. Some were asked to be compassionate towards someone for 5-15 minutes a day. About six months later, they reported to be in a much better mood than those who were not helpful. Volunteering is good for the body and mind, other research shows. The biggest benefit is feeling connected to other people. This helps to ward off loneliness and depression.

Go back to college
iStock

Go back to college

Recent research has found that brain age decreases by 0.95 years for each year of education (and by 0.58 years for every daily flight of stairs climbed). So keep your mind occupied. Going back to college may also be a good idea if you’re thinking about switching careers. Also, taking your mind off the usual stuff and concentrating on something new and exciting can boost your mood significantly.

Start saving money
iStock

Start saving money

If you haven’t gotten out of debt, now is the time to do it. Review how much money you spend on your lifestyle and decide if you’re putting enough into your retirement account. Create one if you haven’t already. Take a close look at your expanses and cut, for example, unnecessary subscriptions and expensive cable package.

Practice gratitude
iStock

Practice gratitude

Spend time before bed thinking about the good things you did during the day, Dr. Krista Jordan, a board certified psychologist, says. “Give yourself credit for the good job you did.” This can be anything from accomplishing a task to skipping dessert at lunch because you’re trying to cut sugar. Acknowledge the progress and be proud of it. Make a point to do something you like every day, Dr. Jordan says. “But it has to be a deliberate act of self-love such as a nice lunch or taking a hot bath.” Tell yourself “I deserve this because I’m a good person,” she adds. This will eventually turn into a natural habit, leading to more positive feelings toward yourself.

Don’t compare yourself to others
iStock

Don’t compare yourself to others

You can’t stay too wrapped up in self-criticism because it will only lead to self-loathing, Hope Tackaberry, life coach and speaker, says. “Spending energy self-hating is not doing anybody any good.” Do something about what you did wrong, and move on, she adds. “A lot of people get stuck in a state of self-hating. This can eventually lead to depression.”

Don’t hold on to grudges
iStock

Don’t hold on to grudges

“Some patients hold on grudges for 20 or 30 years,” Dr. R.Y. Langham, psychologist, a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, says. “They can’t or won’t let them go, so they drag them down. In other words, these past grudges make them bitter and angry, which affects all facets of their lives, so my suggestion is to just let it go.”

Be easier on yourself
iStock

Be easier on yourself

People are too hard on themselves, Dr. Langham says. “They think life, themselves, others, and the world should be perfect and fair, in reality it is not.” When it finally dawns on them that life is not perfect, they beat themselves up and self-destruct, she adds. “More specifically, they ruin friendships, relationships, careers, etc. They turn to drugs and alcohol, violence, etc. They become hopeless and simply give up – which is the worst thing to do.” It’s okay to not be perfect, but the key is to keep striving to be a better person than they were the day before, she adds.

Set small goals
iStock

Set small goals

You probably hear about this every December when you work on you New Year’s resolutions. There is a good reason for that – setting small goals make them achievable. Breaking big objectives down into shorter-term goals, for example a month, helps keep motivation levels high. What will also keep you motivated is giving yourself specific timelines to work toward that goal.

Learn new skills
Dreamstime

Learn new skills

This is not to say you have to reinvent yourself, but the benefits of learning a new skill go well beyond being able to do something new. At the very least, you are going to be a better-rounded person. Consider learning a new language. Research shows that speaking two or more languages, even if you learned the second language in adulthood, may slow age-related cognitive decline, according to Harvard Medical School.

Turn off that TV
iStock

Turn off that TV

A study has linked prolonged television viewing with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. Also, televisions and other electronic devices emit blue light, which affects the levels of the sleep-inducing melatonin more than any other wavelength. Another problem is what you’re watching. Chances are a movie or a late show that you find will be more stimulating than relaxing, keeping you awake, which has many side effects, including weight gain.

Step out of your comfort zone
Dreamstime

Step out of your comfort zone

Neuroscience has demonstrated that brain elasticity is encouraged by new things, according to Dr. Roger Jahnke from Health Action Synergies and author of “The Healer Within.” This means it’s critical to your growth to step out of your comfort zone from time to time – the courage comes from shifting your perspective. Learn to reframe those “out of your comfort zone” experiences as a positive instead of negative.

Spend more time with friends
iStock

Spend more time with friends

Have you ever met anyone who has ever said “I wish I spent more time at work.” Probably not. The good things about being in your 40s is that drama of your earlier years is behind you. So enjoy the freedom. On a more serious note, research shows that social support can moderate genetic and environmental vulnerabilities for mental illness, possibly by fostering effective coping strategies. So catch up with old friends and don’t let these relationships fall to the wayside again.

Make fun a priority
iStock

Make fun a priority

Take a look at your schedule. How many events do you see that you are genuinely looking forward to? If it’s full of business meeting and other professional obligations, you need to re-do your schedule. It’s time to set aside time for activities that make you happy. They could be anything from a spontaneous road trip and a dangerous winter hike to surprising a relative you haven’t seen in years. The more positive and fun things you do, the happier you will feel.  

Handle stress like a champ
iStock

Handle stress like a champ

Many people thrive when they are under some amount of pressure, but chronic stress can be totally debilitating and a huge health risk. Apply a few tips to handle stress at work, which is usually the biggest culprit. The excessive tension and pressure will eventually take a toll on your physical and mental health with upset stomach, headaches or migraines being only a few of the possible side effects.

Listen to cheerful music
iStock

Listen to cheerful music

Music has the ability to change your mood in an instant, Tackaberry says. And science has proven it. Another benefit of music is that it leads to social connections, which is also an effective way to fight the winter blues. Studies show that listening to your favorite music is a great wat to relieve stress. Happy tunes relax blood vessels and increase blood flow.

Wear sunscreen year-long
iStock

Wear sunscreen year-long

Dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen all the time, even in the winter, when people are outside. Everyone gets incidental exposures of sun that in some cases can cause sunburn and significant skin damage. Wearing sunscreen on a regular basis can help prevent this. And whatever you do, don’t use suntan booths. They are incredibly dangerous; you are exposing your skin to ultraviolet radiation.

Read more books
iStock

Read more books

Stay informed, have plenty of subjects to talk about at parties, keep your brain sharp, and lower your risk of developing dementia. The benefits of reading more range from social to scientific. Reading keeps your brain young. Spending an hour a day to read helps with that, according to research. Also, “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go,” according to Dr. Seuss.

Develop a new hobby
iStock

Develop a new hobby

This is an easy trick to take care of stress. Taking your mind off the usual stuff and concentrating on something new and exciting can boost your mood significantly. Some helpful hobbies for stress relief include painting, dancing, and playing sports. Binge watching TV does not count.

Cook at home
iStock

Cook at home

People who frequently cook meals at home eat healthier and consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research. It’s no surprise that the combination of fewer carbohydrates, less sugar and less fat – a very healthy diet – can add years to your life. Turn it into a cooking party, and have fun!

Take sleep seriously
iStock

Take sleep seriously

A minimum of 7-8 hours each night, a pre-bed routine without screens, and making your room cool, quiet, and peaceful are key steps to get started. Sleep deprivation affects the brain in a way that makes you want to eat more and not process food efficiently. It sparks a vicious cycle where you are left feeling tired, slowing your metabolism and playing tricks with your hormones.

Rid yourself of toxic people
iStock

Rid yourself of toxic people

Review your relationships and get rid of anything that makes you feel bad. It’s not easy to disregard family, the members of which you can’t choose, so be around inspiring people any chance you get. Go on a “diet of positivity,” Lane says. “Make life a workshop around how you want your life to be and engage with people who are motivating you to live it like that.”

Stop judging people
iStock

Stop judging people

“People miss out on really great people, who could enrich their lives, simply because of their sexual orientation, gender, or religion,” Dr. Langham says. “I see this a lot in sessions – people hating others based on some trait or demographic.” Her suggestion is to spend time with the people that you have prejudices against – learn about them – because you may find out that you have more in common than you think.

Change your routine
iStock

Change your routine

Even in terms of exercise, our bodies become accustomed to a certain regimen after just a few weeks. If you can make small adjustments to your routines every month or so, that will help keep things moving along. In fact, on a more curious note, studies have shown that happy marriages keep people healthier, and dull routines kill marriages faster than fighting.

Stop using lack of time as an excuse
iStock

Stop using lack of time as an excuse

People are so busy in today’s world that they tell themselves that there is no time to fit a workout or watching a movie into their daily life. Most people lead busy lives, and that is why you need to learn that certain stretches and exercises can be done at home while you watch a fun movie, for example. A good practice may be to meticulously plan out your day and consciously set aside non-negotiable 30 minutes every few hours to do something you actually enjoy.

Grow a thick skin
iStock

Grow a thick skin

Having a thick skin is generally about loving yourself. “If you are really confident in who you are, then you can handle almost anything. As with everything else, confidence is a practice,” John Kalinowski, life coach and mindfulness expert, says. You can’t let everything get to you. Avoid needless suffering and build immunity to other people’s opinions and actions.

Don’t be addicted to your phone
iStock

Don’t be addicted to your phone

The number of cell phone calls per day, the length of each call, and the amount of time people use cell phones have increased. But improvements in cell phone technology have resulted in devices that have lower power outputs, according to the American Cancer Institute. Still, a digital detox is one of the best ways to truly relax your body and mind and recharge. Cell phones can interfere with your sleep and can lead to neck and back pain from hunching over to use the devices.

Don’t wear headphones too much
iStock

Don’t wear headphones too much

Elderly people are often labeled as having hearing problems. They usually come with age but sometimes they appear due to environmental factors. Wearing headphones for more than an hour a day can be a cause as well. It’s important to not overdo it and keep the volume down. Sound is delivered directly into the ear canal, very close to the eardrum. Over time that quickens the kind of hearing loss linked to age.

Don’t dismiss health warnings
iStock

Don’t dismiss health warnings

“If you think you have an emergency, then you have an emergency until proven otherwise,” Dr. Michael G. Millin from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says. The key to preventing potentially fatal incidents is to pay attention to small changes or sensations and to know when not to dismiss them because you had a busy day at work. Don’t overlook symptoms such as sudden headaches – could be life-threatening, chest pain – could be heart attack, shortness of breath – could be heart problems of collapsed lung, swollen legs – could be a blood clot, or confusion associated with tiredness.

Think about retirement
iStock

Think about retirement

There is still a long time until you can stop working, and you don’t even have too if you don’t want to, but in case you’re tired of a 9-5 desk job, make an appointment to see a financial planner. Now is the time to figure out what your money goals are for the next few years, so you can working towards them accordingly.

40 Lifestyle Changes You Should Make After 40