Excessive stress: Chronic stress, an epidemic of modern life, can cause your cortisol levels to skyrocket, leading to inflammation and metabolic malfunctioning. Identify the things that stress you out, anticipate when they will occur, and take steps to manage your response. Take deep breaths, meditate, participate in a yoga class—whatever helps make you feel calm and centered.
Attitude adjustment: “Most people underestimate the effect of the mind, but research in this area is very powerful,” Matson says. Become more in-tune with the tone of your inner voice and swap negative notions with positive affirmations. Matson also suggests starting a gratitude journal and searching for ways to help others.
Alcohol in abundance: Research indicates that small amounts of alcohol may provide certain health benefits, but women especially should aim for imbibing no more than two drinks in a single day. Beyond that, the drawbacks of alcohol begin to outweigh the benefits.
Second-hand smoke: Plain and simple—don’t put up with secondhand smoke. For non-smokers, long-term exposure to second hand smoke is nearly as bad as puffing on an actual cigarette. Set boundaries. “It is the smoker’s responsibility to smoke away from you and others,” Matson says.
Chemical contaminants: Since you don’t have much control over the environment when you’re outside, be sure to minimize your exposure to chemicals while in your own home. Invest in a water filter and cut down on how often you use aerosol cleaning and beauty products.
Pill-popping: Poly-pharmacy is a big problem for many adults, one that only get worse with age. Medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), while helpful for managing certain conditions, may end up doing more harm than good in the long run. “Know what you’re taking and why you’re taking it,” Matson advises. He says that many medications are prescribed for conditions that can be otherwise managed by making lifestyle changes. Ask your doctor if there’s any way you can safely reduce your dosage, or go off a prescription all together.
The genetic gamble: You may not be able to alter your genetic code, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of your detrimental genes. Research your family history and make the lifestyle changes necessary to accommodate your unique set of inherited vulnerabilities.
There’s no magic bullet that can cure aging, no miracle restorative regimen that everyone can follow and never experience the symptoms of aging.
But making small, simple lifestyle changes can improve your physical and mental well-being—no matter how many candles weigh down your birthday cake.