Imagine your age was based on how you feel rather than when you were born? Often people feel younger or older than they actually are. Do you feel your age? I know that I don’t!
I may not look young, but inside there is still a ‘naughty little girl’ who loves doing crazy things. I am always asking a lot of my body and my body can’t manage it all – even though it tries! At a workout class, where I am definitely the oldest attendee, I competitively push myself but come away (or crawl away) smiling and happy. I’ll say yes to any adventure – whatever it may be I normally have my name down.
I am definitely a believer that feeling young doesn’t have to be about the physical – it’s about your outlook on life and attitude towards the younger generation.
Scientists have been interested in finding out why peoples ‘subjective age’ differs and the health and wellness implications behind this. They believe it may be essential for understanding why some people flourish in older age whilst others don’t. It impacts on important daily decisions and life decisions, which have a massive effect on the person. It doesn’t just stop there, however, with research showing that it can influence your bodies health.
Subjective Age and Personality
In my head, I am in my early twenties, and boy do I wish I still was.
Generally, people tend to mellow as they get older, and become less open to new experiences. But those people with younger subjective ages also become less self-conscious and neurotic. Feeling younger than your years comes with better mental health, as well as a better physical health such as a lower risk of dementia.
One study found that feeling 8-13 years older than your actual age meant 18-25% greater risk of death over the study period and greater risk of disease, even when taking into account education, race or marital status.
It may be due to the personality changes that come along with subjective age – if you enjoy a wide range of activities if you feel young which can put you in better health.
Of course, in some ways linking mental health and the age you feel can be a vicious cycle. If we feel depressed or physically vulnerable for whatever reason, we may feel older, which makes us feel even more vulnerable and down.
How Do We Stay Feeling Young?
I often walk into a shop that caters for teens and then catch myself in the mirror and think – oh no! However, I equally don’t feel ready to shop in ‘older’ lady stores! I find myself buying clothes and still liking items that may be for a ‘young’ me. However, I don’t think that will be ending anytime soon – I will always feel younger than my years!
Studies have linked the relation of subjective age and declining health with a negative perception of ageing. If we feel younger, it acts as a self-defence against society’s perceptions of ageing. One study found that people had a lower subjective age depending in different environments, and there was a direct correlation between the attitude on ageing in that environment. For example, in work where being older can be seen as a negative, people often said they felt younger than they did in other situations.
If we can protect ourselves from society dismal view of ageing and give ourselves a more optimisitic view of our age, we are more likely to age well, with a lower risk of physical and mental problems.
Positive ageing really can improve your health!