Forever young: How a youthful self-perception could benefit your well-being

New study suggests that a positive self-perception could boost your overall health. Source: Getty Images.

If the old adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” suggests beauty is subjective and the way we define beauty varies from person to person is true, then can’t the same be said for how we perceive our appearance as we age?

A new study published in Psychology and Aging has revealed that adults aged between 50 and 80, who perceive themselves to look more youthful, may have a more positive overall view on the whole ageing process which could positively affect their general health.

Researchers examined factors such as self-assessment of ageing appearance relative to peers and efforts to maintain their youthful appearance.

They also explored associations with positive and negative ageing experiences, as well as overall health.

The importance of one’s appearance was underscored in the research, particularly concerning how it evolves as we age. Notable markers like alterations in hair colour, shifts in skin texture, changes in body shape, mobility variations, and reliance on assistive devices were pinpointed.

Though these changes are part of life and don’t necessarily signify deterioration, they significantly impact how we’re perceived as we age and can sway our social engagements.

The study also found that approximately 59 per cent of participants perceived themselves as looking younger than their same-age peers, while only 6 per cent saw themselves as older. Individuals who considered themselves younger tended to report more favourable aspects of ageing and fewer negative feelings.

Approximately one-third (35 per cent) of participants acknowledged dedicating time or effort to preserving a youthful appearance. Intriguingly, this endeavour was linked to both favourable and unfavourable experiences of ageing, indicating a complex link between societal expectations and personal well-being.

The study reaffirmed that positive ageing experiences correlate with improved physical and mental health outcomes, whereas negative experiences are linked to lower assessment of one’s own health assessment.

While the study’s findings may seem like common sense, they do shine a light on the importance of ageing with grace.

Recently a group of over 60s shared their ageing tips on Reddit. Things like a good moisturiser, eating well, and keeping your mind engaged were some of the top suggestions. 

One person even said “no more negative self-talk” which falls precisely in line with the study’s findings.

On age, another Redditor said, “It represents the number of years you have been on this earth. That’s it. Be proud of your age. You’ve worked hard to get here. If you’re lucky, you’ll be redefining your age for people with preconceived notions.”

In a world that often celebrates youth, these over-60s show that ageing gracefully is about embracing it with wisdom, resilience, and a love for life.

They remind us that growing older can be an exciting journey, with the best yet to come.

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