Coming to terms with aging is a difficult task for many people. Fear of aging is similar to the fear of death and fear of the unknown. These fears are completely natural and many people have these same fears. The unfortunate thing about the fear of aging is that time is continuously passing by and this can further exacerbate the fear of aging. The stress associated with fear can lead to premature aging and lead to a toxic feedback loop. Learning how to effectively deal with and cope with your fear of aging is important because at no point in your life will you be getting any younger.
This is often harder said than done as learning to effectively manage these fears and focusing on the present is something that takes immense amounts of practice and time. Below is a guide of ways that could help to mitigate your fear and could allow you to age with less fear and stress.
Mindset and point of view play a large role in how you perceive the world. When it comes to fear of aging, physical signs of aging on your body may be triggering and cause you more stress and fear. If you find that these outward signs of aging cause you distress, it may be helpful to step back and try and find a positive about it.
An example of this in action would be if you see that you have developed wrinkles around the side of your mouth. Rather than jumping to the negatives, you could attempt to look at it as a positive. Instead of seeing the wrinkle as a sign of decline, you can view it as a badge of honor that shows everyone how often you are smiling.
While the example above is the ideal case, through continual practice and positive self-talk it can become easier to default to positivity rather than negativity.
Replace negative prototypes of aging
Watching a loved one decline in old age or having other negative experiences or views of aging can lead to a fear of aging. Experiences throughout life shape our perception and can have a large impact on the development of fears later in life.
A prototype is essentially the model that people envision when discussing a topic. Prototypes are not the same for everyone and negative prototypes can exacerbate fears. An easy example would be if people were told that they were going to meet a dog. People without fear of dogs would most likely imagine a friendly dog while individuals with a fear of dogs may imagine one that is aggressive.
Finding opportunities to replace these prototypes of aging is a great way to help mitigate fears. An example would be if you see getting older as a lonely process where people lose their sense of purpose. In this scenario volunteering in a retirement community could allow you to meet elderly people who have a rich social life and retain a strong sense of purpose. Putting yourself in a position to disprove your preconceptions of aging can be difficult at first, but they can be extremely helpful in mitigating your fear and allowing you to have a healthier relationship with the aging process.
Take actions to preserve your physical health
With the fear of aging, there is typically a very logical underlying concept that leads to it. The gradual decline of physical capabilities, decreased autonomy, fear of loneliness, and others are all very real and valid concerns. While these factors can occur, there are actions you can take to avoid them.
One of those is to take action to preserve your health so that you will be healthier in your advanced age. Many fears are based upon the fear of the unknown and items that are perceived as out of your control. While the passing of time cannot be controlled, your health is largely within your control.
Taking control of your health can help to mitigate your fear because you go from feeling helpless to knowing that you have control over your future.
There are many actions you can take to preserve your physical health. Eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and taking care of your skin can slow biological aging and decrease the outward signs of age.
One specific change experienced by the aging body is a decline of CoQ10 within the mitochondrial membrane of cells. Taking supplements like MitoQ can help your goal of supporting your health as you age. MitoQ is a CoQ10 molecule that has a high bioavailability. This means that MitoQ is absorbed and utilized within your mitochondria to a larger degree than other CoQ10 supplements. CoQ10 is an antioxidant molecule that enables the powerhouse organelle within your cells to function optimally. Supporting your mitochondria with MitoQ is a great way to support your body as it ages.
Learn stress management techniques
With some fears, it may be next to impossible to completely get rid of. While fears can last a lifetime, there are still things that you can do to limit their impact on your daily life.
One of the best ways to deal with a consistent fear is to learn coping strategies and stress management techniques. Fears can often bear themselves in many forms. Some may feel anxious while others may have intrusive thoughts. No matter how your fear presents itself, having ways to cope and deal with it is important.
Because no two people are the same when it comes to fears and coping, it is important to get counsel from a licensed psychologist if your fears are impacting your day-to-day life. A psychologist can guide you through different coping techniques to find one that best suits you and your needs.
Coming to terms with aging
The largest obstacle for people with a fear of aging to overcome is to come to terms with the fact that aging is inevitable. Some people find closure within their religion while others are unbothered by the impermanence of life. While these individuals seem to have it together, they most likely had a fear of aging and death at one point. The main difference is that those people were able to come to terms with their mortality.
Coming to terms with aging and mortality is not an easy task and many people live their entire lives without coming to terms with it until their final moments. Attempting to grapple with your mortality is a good way to begin mitigating the fear of aging. Acknowledging there is nothing you can do and accepting it as an inherit part of life can drastically decrease the stress felt surrounding aging.
One way to come to terms with aging is to talk to those around you. Seeing how other people deal with aging and their mortality can be beneficial to you. Even if those around you are equally fearful of aging, it can be comforting that you are not alone and that your fears are valid.
Fear of aging often coincides with a fear of the unknown in the future. While it is good to plan ahead and generally know where you want to be in the future, focusing too much on the future can lead to feelings of anxiousness and stress. The future poses many different unknowns and what-if scenarios that can lead many down a negative rabbit hole.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the current moment and really taking in the world around you. By utilizing tools like meditation, grounding exercises, and more people are able to slowly able to train their minds to focus more on the present moment and less on things in the distant future. When fears of aging present themselves, you can utilize mindfulness to take a step back and reframe your attention to the present moment rather than to the anxiety invoking future.
Aging, death, and fear of the unknown are extremely common fears. Evolutionarily speaking, these fears were most likely very advantageous as they would keep you from dying. Unlike fears of spiders, snakes, or bugs fear of aging is quite rational.
Even though the fear may be rational, the impact of stressing over something that never goes away is detrimental to your health. Many people are able to come to terms but some find resistance to accepting their fears. Ways you can attempt to mitigate your fear of aging include staying positive, replacing negative prototypes, taking actions to preserve your health, utilizing coping strategies, coming to terms with aging, and practicing mindfulness.
Reviewed by: Kai Man Yuen/ BSc., PGDipSci., MSc.