Five Habits That Made Me a Happier, Healthier Thirty-Something

Birthdays sometimes come with a bit of trepidation about growing older. For some people, 30 is tough, while others dread the big 4-0 or 5-0. For me, it was 37. Suddenly, I was in my “late thirties.” There was no more pretending I just graduated from college “a few years ago.” I found myself saying things like, “I remember that…it was 25 years ago.” [Cringe!] I also felt physically older. For the first time in my life, I had to face the fact that I was aging. Life would require more of me if I wanted to continue feeling healthy and vibrant. Here are five changes I made as I adjusted to 37:

1. Drinking more water

I’ve never been one to carry a water bottle around (unless I’m visiting family in Colorado, where it’s so dry, I want a portable IV). I would drink orange juice with breakfast, water with lunch and dinner, and maybe one other glass of water each day. That’s it. I was always slightly dehydrated but never thirsty. After turning 37, I began to feel that dehydration in the form of sluggishness. I often felt vaguely hungry, but without the desire to eat. People giving weight-loss advice often say, “When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water. You’re probably just thirsty.” I believe that’s true! After increasing my water intake to five or six glasses a day, I felt much better.

2. Exercising regularly

Before turning 37, I walked my dog every day and had an on-again-off-again relationship with Bikram yoga. I never felt the need to hit the gym because my daily life included enough physical activity to keep me in pretty good shape. I told my friends to call the police if they ever saw me running. I wasn’t running anywhere unless a homicidal maniac was chasing me! Then at 37, I started feeling weaker. I was losing muscle tone, and struggling to go quickly up the stairs in my home. It was time to find an exercise program that worked for my lifestyle and fitness level. Now I use online workouts to get 20-30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week.

3. Wearing lipstick

After turning 37, I would often look at a picture of myself and think, “I look so tired.” My skin seemed pale and my smile looked like I had conjured it up with my last ounce of energy. Then one day I read an article about preparing for family photos. It stressed the importance of lipstick for women. I have always hated lipstick, but I gave it a try, and it works! Adding color to the lips can make skin look healthier, teeth look whiter, and the whole face look more youthful. I resisted switching from lip gloss to lipstick, but I really like Clinique’s Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm in Broadest Berry. It doesn’t dry my lips and makes a huge difference in how I look.

4. Taking naps

I was never good at taking naps. You can ask my mom. Even as a baby, she or my grandmother would push me up and down the street in a baby carriage to get me to sleep. When I was in college, I never took naps. When I was pregnant, I rarely took a nap. Even when I had a newborn baby, I didn’t take naps. Once I turned 37, I suddenly wanted a nap almost every afternoon. If I’m at home around 2:00 pm, I love to sneak in a 15-minute power nap. Sleeping any longer than that makes me groggy, but a quick catnap recharges me for the second half of my day.

5. Expressing gratitude

For me, aging comes with an acute sense of everything that could go wrong. When we’re young we feel invincible, but at age 37, I began to realize that people younger than me were dying of cancer, having heart attacks, or recovering from strokes. Add to that all the car accidents and violent crimes in the news, and I began to wonder, “How am I still here?” Entering my late thirties reminded me that every day is a gift. I must remember to be grateful for things I used to take for granted, especially my health! I often express my gratitude through prayer, journaling, and telling others how thankful I am.

What age required lifestyle changes for you? What new habits did you develop? Share your story in the comments!


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