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Living Your Best Life At Every Age

Living your best life – it is the mantra for the 21st century. Experts tell us that living your best life is a proactive pursuit. We must be willing to take action, make choices and own our existence, but what exactly does “living your best life” mean? How do you go about it, and is it something that changes over time?

A Center for Disease Control report revealed that Black women are living longer than ever before, and many experts believe it is because many of us are making a concerted effort to live healthier and better throughout our years. During its 40th Annual Symposium, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. hosted a Living Your Best Life at Every Age workshop featuring a panel of accomplished, influential Black women ranging in age from 20-74. Together with more than over 600 workshop participants, they shared personal stories about their journey to fulfillment, and tips for getting the most out of life as we age.

National Library of Medicine

Is the baby of your family cruising around the kitchen? Are your pets scavenging through the trash? Check out the National Library of Medicine’s Household Products database http://hpd.nlm.nih.gov to learn about the potential health effects of chemicals found in common household products and which items should be moved to higher, safer ground.



Go4Life http://go4life.nia.nih.gov

An exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life.

Twenties & Thirties

In our 20s and 30s, most of us are still trying to figure out who and what we want to be when we grow up. We savor our independence, but learn that “adulting” is hard: there are bills to pay, careers to pursue and other obligations to meet that are not necessarily the way we want to spend our time. So how does one get the most out of life and live responsibly?

  • Be Kind to Yourself. Value and treat yourself with respect. Don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes learn from them.
  • Run Your Race. It’s easy to compare your life to those of people around you. Whether they are killing the game or slacking, your friends and colleagues are living their lives. Concentrate on making the most of yours.
  • Take Care of Your Mind and Body. Maintaining a strong body and positive relationships helps to minimize stress and maximize your ability to live a healthy satisfying life. Sleep! Give your body the 7-8 hours it needs nightly. Find an exercise resume that you don’t mind sticking to – yoga, running, walking, or spending time in the gym. Eat foods that are good for you as well as tickle your taste buds, and avoid over-indulging in food, drink, medications, etc.
  • Now for the mind. Take time to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings. Spend time with the people in your life who matter to you and are invested in your happiness and success. Let go of those individuals who feed on drama or negativity.
  • Be Smart About Money. Money may only be a tool but having some at your disposal helps to provide options and flexibility. Avoid debt and if you must borrow money, have a timetable for paying it back. Save. You don’t have to have millions to talk to a financial planner about a savings strategy, and no matter what you make, you should be putting something away for the future.
  • Try New Things. You have a new job prospect, a chance to spend time in another country, take a bike tour, or attend a networking event by yourself. What will you do? It’s easy to say no. It’s also the easiest way to miss out on what could be a life-changing opportunity. Weigh the pros and cons. Talk it over with people whose opinion your value, and then … if that little voice inside you is egging you on …go for it!

Forties & Fifties

Welcome to the sandwich years! Black women in our 40s and 50s are generally well into child rearing. Many of us also have aging parents or other loved ones that we are caring for, whether they live in the same house or miles away. We want to make sure that our children have the tools, support, and resources that will enable them to successfully go out into the world, and that our relatives’ needs are also addressed. Add work and societal pressures to all of this, and as Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, puts it: “it’s no wonder that research is finding that Black women in their 40s & 50s are dealing with a great deal of stress.” So how does one care for others and still nurture herself?

  • Find a space where you can be quiet. Breathe deeply and slowly and separate yourself from life’s demands. Pray, meditate, and reflect on your own worth.
  • Take care of your physical health. Make sure you get your mammogram, colonoscopy, pap & HPV test and annual physical on a timely basis. Don’t smoke and if you do, keeping quitting until you stop. Exercise, in 10-minute intervals or 7-minute circuit workouts. if time is an issue. Also, practice safe sex.
  • Ask for help. Make a list of all the things that you have to do and all of the people in your life that can help you. Then ask them for assistance. It will help you manage stress and maintain connections.
  • Establish a financial plan. There’s a sense of power in knowing that you are planning for the future. Look at how much it costs you to live, how much you make and save. Then consider how you can reduce your cost of living and put more money into your savings account. Plan for things to not work out perfectly and then save with purpose. Examine your insurance – health, life, disability, and long-term. Turn to your social network and consider what life might look like if you support each other.
  • Identify something in your life that you are passionate about, and then do it. Start out as a volunteer if you have to, and then look for opportunities to turn it into an income-producing position. Few things are as fulfilling as doing something you love and getting paid for it.

Sixties and Beyond

By the time we become “senior citizens” we’ve acquired a truckload of memories, but not necessarily a lifetime’s worth. With the possibility of another 10, 20 or 30 years ahead of us, we can choose how we want our lives to change – or remain the same. Consider:

  • Staying interested and engaged in life. Keep abreast of the news and how it affects you, your family and community. Is there a civic or service organization that would benefit from your time, service, or expertise? Do you have a neighbor who could use an occasional babysitter?
  • Discover what makes you feel good – inside and out. Take care of your health. More activity is better than none. According to experts, exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and possibly cognitive decline. Eat good, nutritious food regularly and incorporate drinking several glasses of water into your diet.
  • Maintain connections to others – family, friends, colleagues, and be open to making new friends. As we get older, we lose some of the people we’ve come to love and depend on. Rather than isolate yourself, look for opportunities to meet new people and create new bonds.
  • Get rid of excess baggage – real and emotional. Getting rid of the clothes, papers, and furniture that you no longer use or need will make you feel lighter and freer to embrace life. The same goes for the baggage that is weighing on your mind, heart, and spirit. It may be time to let it go.
  • Strive to life guilt-free. Sometimes the mind is willing, but the body is not, or the body is fine, and you simply don’t feel like doing something you said would. Forgive yourself, forget it, and move on. Life is too short and too interesting to dwell on the would-ofs, could-ofs or should-ofs.

As for advice that we would do well to heed and embrace at each and every age? Symposium panelists and participants agreed: Live joyously, graciously, nimbly and gratefully. Remember that we are all loved and blessed.






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"The Black Women's Agenda, Inc."
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