The phrase “age is just a number” may just have been scientifically proven. According to a new study published by the American Psychological Association in the journal Psychology and Aging, researchers from the German Centre of Gerontology who have analysed 3 years of data from 5,039 participants over 40 years old in the German Ageing Survey have concluded that the subjective age the participant felt did provide some sort of protective effect against stress.
In other words, if you felt young (regardless of your actual age) you would be less likely to be affected by stress and consequentially be more healthy!
Participants who reported more stress in their lives experienced a steeper decline in functional health over 3 years. This relationship was stronger for chronologically older participants. Feeling younger than their chronological age was associated with a weaker link between stress and functional health. The benefits of this were seen to increase with participant age, too.
This means that the more youthful you feel, the more you will have a buffer against the effects of stress which in turn, play a role in maintaining your overall health as you age.
So, when it comes to your health, the age you feel could be more important than your actual birthdate!
How do you feel younger?
According to some experts such Akua K. Boateng, PhD, LPC, who is a licensed psychotherapist in Philadelphia, feeling younger can be as simple as shifting your mindset.
Begin by asking yourself how old you feel today. Then, make a conscious effort to incorporate the following lifestyle modifications into your everyday routine. Over time, small changes can completely transform your life.
- Play. Incorporate play into your weekly schedule (e.g., games, sports, or social interactions).
- Laugh. Lean into laughter at least once a day.
- Learn. Start a hobby that allows you to explore something either new or continue learning.
- Explore. Enhance your curiosity (ask questions about what feels established and known).
- Seek. Be spontaneous and seek adventure.
If you are struggling to shift your mindset, you may find support and help by talking with peers, mentors, and trusted professionals about what may not be working.