If only there was a fountain of youth that you could drink from, especially when life has you feeling even older than you really are. While you can’t literally return to your youth, there are some things you can do that will make you feel young again.
“It’s totally possible to rediscover that zest and optimism you felt when you were younger,” said Caroline Adams Miller, author of Creating Your Best Life. “In fact, recapturing those qualities is essential to leading a healthier, happier life in the long run.”
Get your shut-eye
Your body needs at least eight hours of sleep every night to restore itself. Unfortunately, most people are not getting the proper amount of sleep at night.
“The only time your body can truly restore itself is when you’re asleep,” explained Henry Lodge, M.D., co-author of Younger Next Year For Women. “It helps build a more vibrant body and brain.”
Don’t forget your strength training
“When done properly, weight-training makes micro tears in the muscles, which leads your body to generate thicker, stronger muscle fiber,” said Bob Greene, trainer, and author of 20 Years Younger.
Greene suggests using dumbbells while targeting your core and lower body with lunges, calf-raises, and squats three times a week.
Accentuate the positives
“Cultivating a greater sense of optimism will provide you with more positive energy to motivate you to do youthful things,” explained Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of A Happy You.
“The goal is not to deny the less-than-pleasant stuff that is happening, but rather to focus on what’s going well,” said Lombardo.
Give the gift of yourself
Research has shown that volunteering your time for a worthy cause can give you mental and physical benefits. In a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, it was found that older adults over the age of 55 who volunteered weekly to help children in a classroom had an increased activity level for at least three years after.
“This is one more piece of evidence that volunteer programs that are designed to increase the health of the volunteers can help older adults be more physically active,” explained lead study author Erwin Tan, Ph.D., assistant professor of geriatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “Anything that increases a level of activity for a long period of time is a huge plus, but the real news here is that this particular kind of volunteer work benefits children and the educational system as well as the volunteers, demonstrating the potential benefits for what many are calling an intergenerational social contract.”
Engage your social side
“Staying active and engaged is very important in terms of cognitive and emotional health,” said Dr. Susan Hughes, professor and co-director of the Center for Research on Health and Aging at the University of Illinois in Chicago.
Maintaining a connection to others in social settings is important to mental, emotional, and physical health. Consider joining a club, church group, or hobby organization in order to connect with others who share your interests.
Take on a new hobby
Once you hit retirement age, or your children move away to college, you may wonder how to fill your time. The sense of an empty nest can be daunting and lonely. Instead, find fulfilling ways to spend your time by trying out a new hobby. Learning to play a musical instrument, writing that book you always dreamed of, or expressing your artistic side are all ways to find enthusiasm and joy in life.
“The important thing about activity is that it is meaningful,” said Hughes.
Connect with nature
Make the time to enjoy outdoor activities every day. The sunlight helps you produce vitamin D and serotonin, which can boost your immune system and your mood. The simple beauty of nature also provides a sense of calm and peacefulness.
Take a cue from those who know
If you want to feel young, then spend time with people who are. Grandchildren can be a great source of joy, wonder, and vitality. Few things in life can make you feel youthful and free quite like the simple act of playing. Make-believe, dress-up, building blocks, or even coloring are like a vacation from the stresses of the real world.
Go and see the sights
Whether you dream of traveling to exotic locales, or just taking in local tourist sites that you’ve never had the time to see before, pack your bags and hit the road. Each new sight is a discovery, and the act of discovering is revitalizing all by itself. Not to mention you can make wonderful memories along the way. Choose a destination, or just head off blindly and see where the road takes you.
Keep your love alive
Romance can make you feel like a teenager all over again. So plan a special night with your significant other and make it a date you both remember.
“It’s the ultimate — or most intimate — form of social connection,” said Hughes.
Take your bike for a spin
Since most people spend a large chunk of their childhood traveling by bike, it’s a good way to remind yourself of your youth. Coasting down a gentle hill with the wind in your face will make you feel young and free at the same time.
Revisit the library of your youth
Pull out your favorite childhood books and give them a read for old time’s sake. Thinking about the first time you read them, or your favorite places to read as a kid, can reignite the youthful spirit inside you.
Take a stroll through the park
Going to a park with a big playground can take you back to days gone by. Watch the kids at play and relish in the joy of remembering what it was like before you had adult responsibilities. Then unleash your inner child and spend a few minutes enjoying a swing while you are there.
Revisit your teenage playlist
Thanks to technology like the iTunes store and Amazon mp3 marketplace, it is easy to find all those sounds you loved when you were growing up. Download your favorites and create a playlist that you can listen to again and again whenever you need to feel young and full of spunk.
Give yourself a day off from being an adult
Take the day off from your normal responsibilities. Just say no! Thinking about Saturday mornings as a kid when there was no school and you could sleep in. Take a day and do that again. Sleep in late. Skip the chores of dishes and laundry. Make it a ME day where you only do the things you truly enjoy.
Watch the old TV show you used to love
Remember that nightly sitcom that had you in stitches as a kid? Watch it now and remember the good times. With streaming services like Netflix, it is not hard to find the shows you used to love. Don’t forget to enjoy it with your favorite treat — just like in the good old days.
Have a night out on the town
Pull out your best dress and heels. Have your hair done, and get a facial. Then call up your girlfriends and tell them it’s Ladies Night! Hanging out with your friends is always a mood booster, especially when you know you look good!
Try something new
A big part of childhood is exploring and discovering. Recapture that magic by finding something new to enjoy. Go to that restaurant you have been curious about and order something you have never tried.
Eat healthier food
Although this won’t remind you of youthful experiences, eating healthily will make you feel physically better. This improved state of health can have you feeling younger and stronger in no time. Chances are you will find yourself looking younger as well.
Make scrapbooks or shadowboxes with keepsakes from your youth
Pull out those old keepsakes you have held onto all these years and do something special with them. Put together scrapbooks to showcase those items and linger over the memories associated with each one. Consider filling a shadowbox with special tokens that you can hang on the wall and enjoy every day.
When you remember your youth, what moments stand out in your mind? Were there special places that always held a warm spot in your heart?
Kristy is a freelance writer with more than twenty years of print and digital media writing experience and over seven years of university study in journalism, broadcasting, and mass communications. She specializes in health and wellness, alternative healing methods, news, the environment, and lifestyles. She currently resides in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with her family and pets.