Navigating middle age, especially as a woman over 40, can be a daunting task. We’re expected to hide our aging skin, but to take pride in ourselves at the same. These conflicting viewpoints can be confusing, but don’t have to be overwhelming.

Take some time to reflect on what being over 40 means to you.

Are you worried about aging or scared that you have passed this invisible deadline to have everything accomplished? Maybe you sustained a chronic injury when you were young, and you are worried about how the pain will affect you as you get older.

Take the time to process your fears about aging, whether it be through meditation, journaling, or therapy. Take this opportunity to also think about the benefits of aging, such as watching your family grow or gaining experience so that you can be a mentor to someone else.

Rediscover your hobbies and passions. There is no age limit on happiness and doing what you love will help you to find satisfaction in your life, whether it is baking intricate cookies, running marathons, or traveling to new places.

Ways to make the most of being over 40 and navigating middle age.

Stretch to be able to move your body freely.

As you age, your body naturally begins to wear out. Injuries take longer to heal and you can get hurt from sleeping funny. Regular stretching helps to keep you limber and flexible, which means that you can go about your daily life with ease and keep up with all of your family’s adventures.

Download WeStretch for free from the App Store or Google Play to begin forming your stretching habit today!

Eat well to nourish your body and maintain good physical health.

Everyone has different dietary needs, but striving for a well-balanced diet of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats will help your body to function at its best. If you are unsure of where you should start, talk to your local dietician. They will help you to determine what foods will work best for you.

On the other hand, though, while too much sugar isn’t good for you, allowing yourself to enjoy sweets and treats, especially when with your loved ones, is important to your mental well-being. The camaraderie and joy you experience in these moments will create memories that last a lifetime, versus feeling miserable and left out because you had to stop yourself from tasting the dessert.

Get adequate amounts of good sleep.

It is common knowledge that 7-9 hours of sleep daily is recommended. When you shorten this length of time, you are increasing your likelihood of illness and not allowing your body the recovery time it needs.

If you are regularly getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night, it might be time to re-evaluate your lifestyle or to talk to your doctor about potential health concerns. How you take care of your body during middle age will be a large indicator of what your health will be like as you eventually become a senior.

Keep on top of your mental and emotional health by managing stress.

Take breaks regularly– both during work and in life. By continually pushing yourself without allowing time to recover, you will likely become burnt out or jaded at some point.

Seek out positive outlets, such as music, writing, hiking, or even just scheduling time to hang out with your loved ones. Finding contentment in your life doesn’t have to be hard, but it should be a consistent effort.

One of the common things that many women over 40 experience is the push to lose weight that typically occurs from a decline in activity or after childbirth.

Will I be happier when I lose weight?

Maybe yes, but potentially no.

There is a disconnect between our perceived body image issues and what is truly affecting our self-esteem.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to hear, “Once I lose 10 lbs, I’ll be happier.” For many people, this mentality drives them to skip out on meals or treats with friends. If they gain weight, they feel like they’ve failed and lost part of their worth. Often, when people achieve their weight goal, they briefly feel happy about their success, but their underlying emotional issues haven’t been addressed, which doesn’t necessarily make them feel better in the long run.

Wanting to lose weight isn’t a bad thing, but it is important to truly understand your reasons why.

Your value as a person stays the same, regardless of what the numbers on the scale say.

Try to find what makes you happy, and embrace your body, whatever it looks like. Those that love you, love you regardless of your appearance, and just want you to be present in their lives. Take care of your body and appreciate how it accompanies you age.

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This article is not intended to act as or replace medical advice. Please talk to your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns.

Written by Kayla Willsey