How to Stay Young in Body, Mind, and Spirit

What does youth mean to you? The absence of wrinkles? The energy to stay up late with friends? A carefree sensibility? Whatever picture the desire to “stay young” conjures in your imagination, it’s probably more complicated than smooth skin and a tight butt. Here are some of our favorite research-backed tips for maintaining or regaining your lit-from-within glow that others can see on the outside and you can feel on the inside.

Body

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ― Hippocrates, called the father of modern medicine

Self-Care Through Food

For our bodies to work properly, feel energized, and stay strong enough to avoid illness and injury, we need to fuel them properly. Avoid the chemicals in processed food as much as you can, and try to reverse the damage from similar free-radicals by taking in lots of the good stuff.

Experts say you should aim for a diet that’s rich in colorful fruits and vegetables. Deep purple, blue, and red fruits and veggies tend to be high in skin-brightening antioxidants, for instance. Research also says that a diet high in healthy fatty acids like omega 3s will keep skin looking younger longer.

“A body in motion stays in motion.”

Okay sure, Isaac Newton was talking about the physics of inertia here, not about getting your workout in. Still, the idea definitely applies to your physical longevity. You already know that you’re likely to live longer if you consistently engage in even light physical activity. But now scientists have proof that you’re likely to look much younger, too.

In recent studies from both The Mayo Clinic and Brigham Young University, researchers found that adults who do moderate- to high-intensity exercise about 5 times per week have reversed cellular aging by approximately nine years compared to their more sedentary peers!

Mind

Attend to keeping your mind fresh and youthful, and you will keep your body fresh and youthful.—Deepak Chopra, M.D.

Meditation for the Win

Have you ever felt like your life is barreling forward of its own accord and you’re just hanging on for the ride? This can happen when you’ve spent too long living your life for other people (your parents, kids, spouse, etc.), or chasing the things you think you’re supposed to want, without much thought about what you, a unique individual, truly desire out of life.

A regular mindfulness meditation practice can help you declutter some of the mental debris of daily life and reconnect (or connect for the very first time) with your core beliefs and aspirations. This will allow you to live your life more intentionally and direct your energy toward the things that matter most. According to several studies, regular meditation not only helps you feel more focused, but can also keep you happier, give you a better memory, and even change the very shape and function of your brain (for the better).

Feed Your Mind

Think you’re stuck with the brain you have? Think again. The emerging field of neuroplasticity, or the notion that you can continually build new neural pathways and change your brain patterns as you age, is quickly gathering momentum in the scientific field. Studies even show that exercising your brain through reading not only makes you smarter, it also keeps your memory sharp and slows down the decline of brain function as you age.

In addition to reading, brain puzzles, and mental workouts, you can also feed your mind through nutrition. For instance, there’s a large body of proof that by routinely taking supplements like gingko balboa, bacoba, and ashwagandaha, you can actively care for your brain health and function, even as you age.

Spirit

I’m young at heart. I’m young in spirit, and I’m still adventurous.” Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Don’t Let Your Possessions Weigh You Down

Our homes, cars, desks, bags — you name it — are full of the stuff of life. Believe it or not, clearing your environment of unnecessary clutter could be your next great adventure.

In her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo writes that we should only fill our houses with the objects that bring us joy and make our lives better. If you’ve been a pack rat your whole life, this can be a life-changing idea.

You don’t need to go all-out Marie Kondo and simplify your home to the bare bones. Real life is messy sometimes, and homes that are too focused on a minimalist aesthetic can end up feeling cold or unwelcoming. But if you’ve been holding on to clutter you don’t want or need anymore simply because it’s “wasteful” or too much trouble to throw it away, it may be time for a purge.

Ask yourself what objects really bring you and your family joy and usefulness — and then donate, sell, or recycle the rest. You’ll be surprised how much lighter you feel — not to mention how much easier it is to keep your home clean.

Revel in the Small Pleasures

Award-winning writer Norah Ephron was most famous for the cult-favorite movies she wrote (like When Harry Met Sally), but near the end of her long life, she also wrote bestselling books about womanhood and aging (like I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing). In one striking moment from her last book, she writes that as she gets older, she has more and more good days, because her criteria for happiness has been getting simpler and simpler.

Near the end of her life, all she needed for a “perfect day” was a milkshake and a walk in the park. We should all be so enlightened. By routinely making space for small things you enjoy, like a cup of perfectly brewed tea or a good book in bed before you turn out the lights, you can experience the simple joy of life a little every day.

Cammy Pedroja, Ph.D.

Cammy Pedroja, Ph.D. is a freelance writer and journalist covering lifestyle, culture, and women’s issues for both print and digital outlets, including USA Today, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and HealthyWay. With degrees from Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College, Cammy earned her doctorate from SUNY Binghamton. www.cammy.live/ Twitter: @CammyPedroja