Fill up your life

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Does it frustrate you to think about another person thinking of you as having limited abilities because of your age?

Time does slow our reaction times, numb our taste buds and make us creak and pop. However, we can slow and in some instances, even temporarily reverse the aging process. Consistent strenuous exercise, a restricted wholesome diet, mental challenges and strong relationships are effective antidotes against aging. Do you make the most of these tools? If not, why not?

Here are some suggestions to help you jump start a more productive and fulfilling, “rest of your life.”

• Develop or maintain a strong social support network. Have close relationships with your family and friends. Be an active part of the communities you participate in. If you don’t have strong ties to family, friends and community, work hard to cultivate them. Research shows that a strong social support system is either as important, or more important, than exercising.

• Eat a slightly restricted diet by eating fewer calories than normal. Emphasize complex carbohydrates with a low glycemic index. These foods have the least impact on your blood sugar and insulin levels. Eat moderate amounts of low fat protein. Eat healthy, monounsaturated fats like olive oil in small quantities. Strive for balance and moderation.

• Exercise at least five days per week. A good exercise program will quickly give you more energy and mental alertness. Get a doctor’s okay before you begin or significantly increase your exercise levels.

• Use both sides of your brain. Work with numbers and play a musical instrument. Learn to juggle with both hands. Brush your teeth and eat with the opposite hand on alternating nights.

• Generate a list of people, activities and events that excite you and give you a reason to get up in the morning. Have a list of places to visit. Then, find ways and times to go visit them. Read a challenging book. Take a course in person or on the internet. Learn a new language.

• Be an optimist. Research has found that optimists do live longer.

• Care about other people even if you don’t know them. Care about our planet and treat it well. Care about other’s dreams, aspirations and concerns. Learn about and accept the differences in cultures.

There’s my list to get you going. What can you add? Most important part of all, do something. Plans are only of value when we constructively act on them.

Tim O’Brien writes continuing-education courses and presents seminars on stress management.

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