words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Archive for the tag “Ageing”

How to avoid feeling old

IMG_3836Why is it that a five minutes of running on a treadmill can seem like an eternity, but 10 years can pass in a flash?

Or that 30 minute appointment at the dentist seems like hours, but a night out with friends is over before you know it.

Why is it, that your child’s first day at school seemed to last longer than the many years they actually spend at school?

It truly is one of life’s great mysteries to me. That time can go by at different speeds even though it is a finite entity.

Time is something that continues to tick on, one minute after the next, slowly adding up until a substantial amount of time has passed. It doesn’t slow down or speed up as many of us think it does. In fact, the speed of time passing seems to be relative to its significance or enjoyment.

Albert Einstein (the clever man that he was), summed it up perfectly:

“Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.”

Last week, two things happened made me realise just how quickly time can pass.

The first was when my son lost his last baby tooth. The last visit from the Tooth Fairy left me wondering where did that time go? How did we get here all of a sudden? It wasn’t that long ago we were waiting for his first tooth to come through. It seemed like yesterday when he lost his very first tooth (at his Nana Jude’s house!) Yet here he was, with none of his original teeth left.

The second was the form we received from school for my son to apply to attend high school next year. Hang on! Haven’t we just settled him in primary school? Why is it time for him to think about heading off to high school?

However, the series of school photos on my desk tells me that it is time for us to fill in this form. That he is indeed in his final year of primary school, and time is not playing a trick on us.

Psychologists call this tendency to think past events have happened more recently than they actually have, ‘forward telescoping’. It happens to us all. Often, we are surprised that significant events happened so long ago. Case in point — my son starting primary school and losing his first tooth.

There seem to be a few theories as to why time speeds up as we get older, which are interesting to read. However, the existence of these theories doesn’t change the fact that time marches on.

If the speed at which the last ten years has gone by is anything to go by, I’d say that I will be nearing retirement age before I know it! In fact, while having dinner with friends a few weeks ago, one of them ‘kindly’ pointed out that it is only 15 years until some of us would be in our 60s…. That was truly shocking.

It made me realise that time isn’t an endless commodity that can be squandered. I also realised that thinking about all the things that had already passed, made me feel a little old.

Many of us fail to realise that getting older is a privilege. I know I am guilty of that sometimes. A part of me can’t help wishing my kids would stay little. Sometimes I feel sad that the things we did together when they were small are all in the past, never to happen again. However, the fact that time has disappeared so quickly is surely an indication that we have all had a great time along the way.

While it’s great to look back and relive memories, spending most of our time looking back and wishing things were different is not great. It means we miss a new lot of experiences — things that are happening now, and things that will happen in the future, new friends and new opportunities.

don't regret growing olderMy son is not upset that his last tooth has gone. In fact, it means that he is now a step closer to getting his braces on (which is kind of a cool thing these days). As for going to high school, well he can’t wait to meet a whole lot of new friends and learn new things. He’s more than willing to embrace the next phase of his life.

The challenge for me is to embrace the next phase too — in particular, accepting that my children are getting older. Instead of wondering where my ‘little kids’ have gone, I should be engaged in the new experiences that await them, eagerly anticipating the future alongside them, rather than feeling sad (and old) for what has passed.

And maybe, just maybe, I will be so busy having a ball with them (like I have for the last 10 years), that I won’t have time to realise that I am getting older as well.

cropped-twitterpic.jpgNerissa Bentley is a Melbourne-based freelance writer at Write to the Point Communications. This blog is just one of the things she writes in her spare time.

 She also specialises in writing for the health and well-being market. As well as writing thoroughly researched articles, she can provide assistance with press releases, copy writing, editing, proofreading and communication strategies.

So if you would like her to help you, contact her at writetothepoint@hotmail.com

Why some numbers are important

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently I have been thinking about numbers. Unusual for someone like me who is more interested in words.

But just like words, numbers are everywhere. Some are important and some are not.

I’ve been thinking about how some numbers have more importance than others, depending upon the phase of life we are in.

I know that when my kids were babies, I really focused on the number of feeds they had and the number of hours sleep I could get each night!

However, my kids are no longer babies and I am not as young as I used to be. The numbers that are becoming more important as I get older, (and which should be more important to all of us as we age) are those related to my health.

After all, it doesn’t really matter how many pairs of shoes I have, if I’ve had my feet amputated due to diabetes complications.

And if my cholesterol levels are through the roof and my heart is in such poor health I could drop dead any moment, then no amount of money in the bank will make me feel better.

Over the last few years, I have specialised in writing ‘health and well-being’ articles. Over the years I have researched and written plenty of content relating to important issues such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cholesterol. I must admit, that at the time, while I thought they were important topics, they didn’t really apply to me all that much.

I think I just had my head in the sand.

However, now I am in my early 40s, I am suddenly in a ‘higher risk’ category for many of these nasty diseases. I’m also more aware of the importance of screening tests (as uncomfortable, inconvenient and embarrassing as they are), particularly when my family health history is factored into the equation.

Put simply, I’ve pulled my head out of the sand, accepted that I am getting older, and am now doing all I can to prevent poor health in the future.

So when it comes to numbers, these are the kinds that I have been thinking about:

Blood pressure — High blood pressure can lead to serious problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney disease.  Doesn’t sound very pleasant.

Cholesterol levels — While we need cholesterol for our bodies to function, too much of the wrong kind (LDL cholesterol) can lead to heart disease or stroke. Not a nice thing to live with.

Blood glucose levels — Having raised blood glucose levels may be an indication that you are on track to develop diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that affects many parts of the body — many more than most people realise.

Calcium levels — Low calcium levels are a risk factor for osteoporosis. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to have to deal with poor bone health and multiple fractures as I age.

Waist circumference — Probably something most of us don’t pay attention to unless we are trying to zip up our jeans! Men should have a waist measurement of less than 94cm while women should have a waist measurement of less than 80 cm. What’s your waist circumference?

‘What about the scales?’, I hear you ask.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the scales are not the most important number in my life anymore. They were for a long time. However, they really only tell a small part of my story. They don’t tell me how much fat or muscle I have, they don’t congratulate me on cutting out processed foods and increasing my water intake, they don’t indicate how much energy I have.

If you haven’t been on the scales in years, then yes, you need to know what you weigh. However, you shouldn’t obsess over a number and let that number dictate how you feel about yourself. If you are proactive about your health and making a concerted effort to lose fat, gain lean muscle and improve your metabolism in order to beat the ageing process, then the scales are over-rated.

And of course, along with all the ‘numbers’, there are a range of health checks that you really just need to have as you get older — most of them not pleasant, but far more preferable than dealing with conditions such as breast cancer, bowel cancer, blindness and false teeth.

Whatever your age, or phase of life you are in, you cannot escape the ageing process.

So I figure, if I can’t stop the ageing process, then I’m going to make sure I slow it down as much as possible and live a happy, healthy fulfilling life for as long as possible.

Who says that it’s all downhill from 40? After all, age is just a number.

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words by nerissa

...observations, thoughts and questions