To many people, the idea of ‘successful aging’ is a crazy one. We often link aging with bad things, like a loss of mobility or illness, but studies have increasingly shown that we have much more control over our health after retirement age than we may think.
Researchers in 1938 began following the lives of men who were studying at Harvard University, reaching out to them every couple of years to ask about their health, relationships, work, habits and happiness. The results show an incredible map of their lives, with researchers categorizing them as “happy-well,” “intermediate,” or “sad-sick.”
To an extent, our lives are dictated by things we cannot control, like having a happy childhood or being born into generational wealth, but there are things that we can control which will help us to have happiness in our later lives. Here are 7 healthy habits that you can start now to begin investing in your later life wellness.
1. Don’t smoke, or at least try and quit if you smoke already.
It can be hard to quit, and you might not be successful the first time you try, but the earlier you quit and the more smoke-free years you have, the happier you will be.
2. Reduce your alcohol intake.
Alcohol abuse was one of the most powerful predictors of being “sad-sick” in the study, so you should seek help if you have any issues with drinking. Although it can be difficult, if you have drinking problems in your family, it might be best to not drink at all. It will be worth it for your overall happiness.
3. Try and maintain a healthy body weight.
By avoiding yo-yo diets and eating moderate serving sizes and plenty of fruit and veg, you can maintain a healthier, happier body weight throughout your life.
4. Ensure you move regularly.
The best way to prioritize movement is to schedule time for it every day. Walking daily can be a great way to incorporate movement into your life.
5. Consciously work on your coping mechanisms.
Life will inevitably include upsets and distresses, so finding healthy ways to cope now will help you to avoid unhealthy practices later.
6. Never stop learning!
Education keeps your mind healthy, but this doesn’t mean that you have to go to Harvard too. Engaging in lifelong learning through reading serious nonfiction or learning a new language can lead to a longer, happier life.
7. Good relationships
Cultivate stable, long-term relationships, like a marriage, friendships and strong family bonds. It is important to have people in your life that you grow with and can count on to be there for you, no matter what.
No one wants to be worried about their later life, so start working on and investing in your post-retirement happiness now.