In a world that is obsessed with age and its limitations, there is now a growing movement that is challenging the idea that you should “act your age.” While breaking free from societal expectations, individuals are discovering the remarkable health benefits that come with defying age stereotypes.
Contrary to popular belief, age is not a rigid constraint but rather a fluid concept influenced by our mindset and lifestyle choices. From psychological well-being to physical vitality and social connections, we are about to help you uncover the science-backed reasons why not acting your age can unlock a world of possibilities for a fulfilling and vibrant life.
Age is Just a Number 👩🦳
More often than not, we think of age chronologically, thinking of age being the number that represents the time that has passed from our birth to the present day. This chronological age is the universally accepted measure of age, but it isn’t the only way we can, or should, think about aging. There is also what is known as biological aging, which is the damage our cells and tissues accumulate over time. Unlike chronological aging, biological aging takes into account a number of factors beyond just the day you were born, including things like genetics, lifestyle, nutrition, and any medical conditions you may have. When all of these factors are taken into account, medical providers are better able to determine what age your body “acts” like which allows them (and you) to better give your body the support it needs.
When we are talking about age, chronological age and biological age aren’t the only things we should be considering—we also need to look at subjective age, which reflects how old you feel. While your mindset around your age and how you feel may not sound like it could play a role in your overall health, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, researchers have now uncovered that your subjective age can actually be a protective factor for your health, which is great news considering that older adults tend to report feeling younger than their chronological age.
One study that had 5,000 participants over the age of 40 explored the effect that subjective age can have on overall well-being, and the results are promising. It’s already known that having high levels of stress can negatively impact our functional health (the ability to do what we want without being hampered by physical pain or restraints), and the researchers used this study as a way to explore whether or not subjective health plays a role in the severity of this decline. The results showed that having a younger subjective age is correlated to less stress-related functional decline.
In simple terms, this means that feeling and acting younger than your chronological age suggests may provide a bit of a buffer against some age-related health declines. Thus, the advice to “act our age” is actually something you may want to push back against.
Influences on Subjective Age🪞
It’s easy enough to understand that many of us feel a different age (whether older or younger) than the one reflected by our chronological age, but what are the factors that influence this perception of ourselves? Research in this area is still in its early stages, but so far, researchers believe that your subjective age is influenced by various things including…
Chronological Age 🙁
There are a number of studies that have found that a person’s chronological age is one of the strongest predictors of their subjective age. As you may expect, these studies have found that young adults (age 25 or younger) tend to feel older than they actually are and older adults (older than 25) tend to feel younger than they are.
Perceived Health 🤔
The way a person perceives their own health status also plays a role in influencing their subjective health. Generally, the better older adults perceive their own health to be, the more likely they are to have a younger subjective age.
Mental Health 🧠
The state of your mental health may also influence how old you feel. Researchers have found that better mental health, particularly when it comes to the presence of feelings associated with depression, correlates to a lower subjective age.
Marital Status 👩❤️👨
Certain socioeconomic factors may play a role in subjective age as well. While the jury is still out on many of these factors, some researchers have found that marital or relationship status plays a role here. Specifically, being married or with a partner is often associated with having a younger subjective age.
Societal norms and perceptions around different age groups can also influence how old a person feels, particularly with older adults. Some psychologists theorize that this is a type of psychological defense where negative age stereotypes persist tend to have a lower subjective age. This suggests that having a lower subjective age may help people distance themselves from negative perceptions they would otherwise feel subject to because of their chronological age.
Embrace Your Youthfulness 👧
With younger subjective ages in older adults being strongly associated with health benefits like increased life span, positive personality traits, better mental health, and better overall physical health, you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to help yourself start feeling younger again. We’re here to tell you that you absolutely can! Use tips like the ones below to help you embrace your youthfulness and experience the benefits of feeling younger than you actually are.
1. Adopt a Positive Mindset 😁
Work on accepting your actual age for what it is without believing that it will hold you back. Be optimistic about the future and have faith in yourself that you are doing a wonderful job navigating this journey called life. It may not seem like it, but it will go a long way toward helping you feel younger
2. Consider Your Appearance 💃
It’s amazing how much our appearance plays a role in how we feel. Controlling facets of your physical appearance that are within your control, and taking steps to slow down factors that are out of your grasp, can help you look younger than you are, and that can go a long way in helping you feel younger too. Being intentional about the way you dress, the supplements you take, and the products you include in your skincare routine can all help you look younger and feel younger in the long run.
3. Focus on Healthy Lifestyle Choices 💪
Again, this comes down to controlling the controllable. Many of your daily lifestyle choices can directly impact both your physical and mental health, which we now know plays a role in how old we feel as we go through life. Being intentional about these choices can help you keep your body and mind as healthy as possible, which will likely help lower your subjective age. Focus on your choices around areas like diet and nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction, and sleep habits to ensure you are giving your body and mind the care they deserve.
4. Challenge Societal Norms 🥳
In more simple terms, stop acting your age! Just because society tells you that you need to calm down, socialize less, and refrain from many types of physical activities doesn’t mean you have to. When an opportunity presents itself to you, don’t immediately shut it down because you “are too old.” Instead, ask yourself what a slightly younger version of you would have done. If you would have jumped on the opportunity to play tag with your grandkids, meet your friends for after-dinner drinks, or join your family on that vacation 5 or 10 years ago, then consider jumping on the opportunity to do the same thing now.
Reap the Benefits of Not Acting Your Age 👏 🥰 💋
Your age is only a number, and if you base it on what society says, it’s only going to continue going up. Don’t let that number keep you down. Instead, embrace the beauty of getting older and the benefits that come with feeling and acting younger than the calendar says you are.