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5 Things That Can Make Midlife Better

 “A man never gets so old, that he forgets how it was being a little boy.” ~Ward Cleaver to his son, Beaver, on Leave it to Beaver

Everyone is busy running on the treadmill we call Life.  We have so much to accomplish over the course of one single day.

Deadlines to meet, bills to pay, emails to answer, texts to acknowledge, appointments to keep.  We take care of our families and ourselves, trying to balance the responsibilities of being a good parent, grandparent, spouse or child.

The speed of our treadmill gets faster as we age, when some of our responsibilities may become more burdensome, financially difficult or exhausting.

 Lucy Carmichael: “Weren’t you ever a teenager?”

Theodore J. Mooney: “Well, of course, what do you think?”

Lucy Carmichael: “I thought one day they opened the bank vault and out you popped, full grown and stingy! “~From The Lucy Show, 1962

midlife, meditation, yoga, healthy living, pets, health

During midlife, the stage I call My Second Chapter, some of us are “empty nesters” or perhaps we’ve recently retired.  Some have changed jobs, or moved to another location.

Some are stuck in a rut with an unfulfilling job. The current economic crises and discouraging job outlook have forced some to work longer while saving less.  Family and friends move or pass away.  Health issues arise and our free time is filled with doctor appointments and staying closer to home.

When we are in our Second Chapter we can experience depression, anxiety, fear, boredom or loneliness.  If we find ourselves feeling this way, we need to take a step back and think how we can make things better for ourselves.

The ups and downs of life are inevitable.  Yet if we prepare and challenge ourselves to learn new and useful tools, tools that are beyond our normal comfort zone that may enhance and enrich our lives, isn’t it worth a try? 

I believe it is!

To illustrate what I mean, I thought I’d share a few of My Second Chapter tools:

1. Journaling – Over the years, many people have told me about the power of journaling.  According to Dr. Andrew Weil (www.drweil.com):

“Therapeutic journaling” or “expressive writing” are the terms used to describe the writing you do as a means of dealing with stress, pain or chronic disease can help a lot. An early study of the effects of journaling showed that it improved immune function in healthy people, and in 1999 the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study from North Dakota State University showing that writing about the stress in their lives actually reduced physical symptoms among people with asthma or rheumatoid arthritis.”

I began journaling when stress was affecting my health.  Create your own, using sentences and paragraphs, or jot down some random thoughts here and there.

It feels good; make it your own.  There is no right or wrong way; you are the Editor in Chief of your own story!

2. Meditation – The Internet is a great place to find basic instruction (trywww.youtube.com or Yoga Journal.)

Studies have shown that meditation can re-wire our brain through the power of thought.  It has been proven that it helps us to “de-stress”, maintain health, increase our ability to better concentrate and enhance emotional stability.

I recommend you read about meditation on Dr. Weil’s website – The Self-Healing Benefits of Meditation – written by Susan Piver who recommends learning about meditation from a reputable resource.  Check out her website at www.susanpiver.com.

 3. Yoga – I love my gentle yoga class, and the pace of the class is perfect for my needs.  I’ve re-learned how to breathe – YES, BREATHE!

In times of crisis we tend to hold our breath and our muscles become tense.  When focusing on your full inhalations and exhalations, you begin to feel your anxieties melt away. Stretching, balancing and breathing make you more aware of your body; this carries over into your daily life. .

Here is a link from the Livestrong website that describes the basics of Hatha Yoga (one popular form of yoga).

4. Visualization – I’ve learned over the years to use visualization to help me de-stress and battle my MS, making me a healthier person.  I know it can help you, too.

Use your own images and try visualization.  If you want to seek a reputable guided imagery therapist, I suggest you look at the website for The Academy of Guided Imagery.

To read up on this, I recommend an article on Dr. Andrew Weil’s website –Guided Imagery Therapy.

“Animals are people too, ya know!” ~Radar O’Reilly, M*A*S*H

5. Pets – Pets give you unconditional love, and it is documented they help lower blood pressure, are a constant source of comfort and boost peoples’ moods.

These are a few of the tools I use to empower myself  for My Second Chapter.  What do you do?

Read more from Cathy Chester on her blog, An Empowered Spirit

 

Cathy Chester

Cathy Chester blogs at An Empowered Spirit, focusing on living a healthy and vibrant life after 50. Cathy’s lived most of her life with a disability, and knows it does not define her. Changing the face of disability is her passion, along with other issues of concern such as social good and animal rights. She was voted one of the best blogs of 2013 by Healthline and was nominated for WEGO Health’s Best in Show Blog for the past two years. She is also a regular blogger for The Huffington Post as well as a Blogger/Moderator for MultipleSclerosis.net and Healthline.

Joan Stommen

Thursday 27th of February 2014

Great suggestions, Cathy. Journaling and blogging is what has gotten me through so much! My yoga class has us visualizing and meditating......but I don't do enough of it otherwise. I shall give it more consideration. I am working on enjoying/embracing my cat. Burney was my husband's pet....I've never been an authentic animal lover. But we are stuck with each other so time will tell! I always enjoy your posts and comments each day, my friend.

Cathy Chester

Thursday 27th of February 2014

Those furry creatures are blessings and bring us unconditional love. You will come to LOVE them!

Haralee

Wednesday 26th of February 2014

Good for you Cathy! You are more evolved than me. I don't care for Yoga and meditation and visualization put me to sleep! My cats, however make my life calmer and more worthwhile.

Cathy Chester

Thursday 27th of February 2014

We love our pets, Haralee! They are furry medicine! Ha..

Dejan Davchevski

Wednesday 26th of February 2014

I think Yoga is an amazing activity to start doing even if you are younger. It harmonizes your heart, soul and body through your mind and creates a more open outlook towards the world around you.

Cathy Chester

Thursday 27th of February 2014

Thank you for sharing that information, Dejan.

Walker Thornton

Wednesday 26th of February 2014

Nice list--I like that you've included resources. I used to see a woman for guided imagery on a regular basis..part of it was combined with music meditation-fabulous practice that served to relax and get my creative juices flowing.

Cathy Chester

Thursday 27th of February 2014

I am sure that seeing someone for guided imagery must have been amazing. How relaxing and useful. It's nice to hear how well it worked for you, Walker.

Maritza

Tuesday 25th of February 2014

Meditation and keeping a journal helps me feel focused and ready to tackle mid life. Great article!

Cathy Chester

Tuesday 25th of February 2014

Oh, how marvelous Maritza! I am so glad to hear it helps someone else. Thank you for sharing that with all of us!

Best always~ Cathy

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