How to enjoy middle-age
With middle-age comes the shock knowledge that you will not live forever. Whilst we can know this intellectually when young, with the advent of aches and pains, diminished energy, and a sudden need for comfy shoes and innumerable pairs of glasses, we can glimpse the Grim Reaper on the horizon and feel the chill dread of mortality.
On our bad days it can seem like a good option to give up now and start packing the bags for the journey to oblivion. But our middle years have some wonderful compensations for loss of youth. For a start, we don’t have to listen to heavy metal music anymore (tolerance of which decreases with age) and can fill our music collections with gorgeous ballads and soothing instrumentals. More seriously, we can develop a greater understanding of who we are, and prioritize self-care and gentleness towards ourselves over the short-term gratifications of our youth.
Here are some ways to make the best of your middle-age:
Enjoy slowing down and take time to relax. Your body is telling you what you need. When possible, surrender to the call of an afternoon nap. If you are at work and can’t have a snooze, take a break to shut your eyes and just be still for 15 minutes.
Watch the alcohol and coffee intake. These things are volatile medicines, to be used carefully for perking you up or calming you down. Be aware of their power! There are innumerable safe, delicious alternatives to caffeine, and the upside of less alcohol is more clarity and energy (and less gout!)
Don’t bang on about being ‘old’ to all and sundry. Sure, you can share with your ageing friends some of your gripes, but the workplace, a social occasion or romantic dinner are not occasions to draw attention to your decrepitude. It’s your spirit people will really relate to, and a cheerful, positive spirit gives other people a better time than a complaining, negative one. Do you want to be that stereotype of the grouchy old person at the bus stop? Didn’t think so.
Reconnect with old friends and long-lost family. They are probably missing you too. Make new friends with your wider peer group through activities and organisations which cater to you and your values and interests. Give service by volunteering or caring for others (but avoid running yourself ragged – you’re a lot less effective at this if you’re not well).
If you take pride in your appearance but don’t want to look like mutton dressed as lamb, ditch clothes that show lots of flesh or are skin-tight. Think of your grown-up style as ‘elegant’, ‘artistic’ or ‘witty'. This way you can still turn heads without looking inappropriate. You can wear a wider range of clothes than you might think – well-cut jeans are ageless, a good hat is always fetching, sunglasses are endlessly glamorous. Change your relationship with the mirror – don’t pore over new wrinkles and broken blood vessels (that way madness lies). Instead, smile cheerfully and briefly at your characterful new face – then get on with your life.
Middle age is not about galloping through life, hungry for the next thrill – it’s about noticing the good stuff you already have, going deeper with it and nurturing it. Let the young have youth, and claim the time of life that’s your territory, with all its potential pleasures and sense of achievement. And if you want to climb into a onesie and watch lashings of TV now and again, that too is absolutely fine.
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