As we cross the age of 49 into our 50th year, most women have a tendency to resign themselves to accepting their lot in life. I would like to share a to-do checklist which we should be mindful of, in order to keep our mind and health in optimal shape:
- Get lots of sleep. Maybe you got along with four hours a night when you were 40, but your body can’t take that abuse when you’re older.
- Set aside quiet time every morning. Meditate, pray, visualize your day. Read something that inspires you. Focus on self-renewal. Love yourself and work on yourself everyday.
- Be optimistic. Take time to understand what you want out of life. Find purpose and meaning. Then spread the joy to others.
- Get cancer screenings. Colon screening begins at 50. Mammograms should be annual. Pap smears continue every one to three years if you are sexually active.
- Check your bones with a bone density scan. Talk to your doctor about calcium and vitamin D.
- Get an annual checkup. You need blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and thyroid tested. Also, talk to your doctor about any symptoms of depression, which can be common for women over 50. These include: persistent sadness or pessimism, feelings of worthlessness, loss of hope, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, and insomnia. I have told people, who ask me how I manage to maintain my positive attitude, that my secret is to keep myself so busy, I really don’t have time to feel depressed.
- Get plenty of aerobic exercise (like walking). It builds strong bones. It also reduces heart disease risk. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women.
- Take up yoga. Yoga is a great stretching exercise and enhances flexibility. Flexibility gives you better balance, so you don’t fall — which avoids fractures.
- Have fun. Go hiking with Island Hikers, hash running, salsa dancing — whatever makes you happy. Act like you feel, and you’ll feel youthful.
- Eat colorful foods. It’s important for women over 50 to get plenty of fruits and vegetables. And eat more fatty fish (like salmon) to get heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Learn to love whole grains, lentils, and skinless lean protein. Treat yourself to sweets, but only occasionally. When you use oils, lean toward the good ones, like extra-virgin olive oil.
- Drink sensibly. For all women, not just women over 50, one alcoholic drink a night is plenty.
- Find a creative outlet. It helps prevent depression — and depression affects memory. Having a creative outlet helps stimulate your mind. Engaging your creativity stimulates your brain more than reading, and certainly more than TV.
- Make your home an oasis. Eliminate clutter. Fill your home with great music, books, and friends. Withdraw and recharge when you need to.
- Associate with positive-focused people. They will not drain your valuable energy with complaints. They will help you pursue the best that life has to offer.
For women over 50, that pursuit can take any form and take a woman anywhere. Make now the very best time of your life.
Published: Sunday Guardian, Feb 17, 2013