Getting older means getting closer to death. But for some, that fact can instill a deep fear of aging. Not everyone will go through this anxiety about death and dying as they age. If you are afraid of aging, and as a result have a real fear of getting older, know that you are not alone.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Is the Phobia or Fear of Aging Called?
- Is it Normal to Fear Aging?
- How to Overcome Your Fear of Aging
- Tips for Overcoming a Fear of Looking Older
There are resources available to help get you through this. Getting old doesn’t have to mean a drain on your happiness. If you find yourself dealing with this type of fear, you may consider reading books on aging and incorporating some simple changes into your life.
What Is the Phobia or Fear of Aging Called?
Unfortunately, as the number of birthdays climbs, some people experience increasing fear and anxiety. The phobia or fear of aging, also known as gerascophobia, can stem from a wide variety of concerns. It can range anywhere from vanity and health reasons to fear of being alone and forgotten.
Negative experiences, whether first or second hand, can be at the root of this particular phobia. The fear itself can overwhelm people to the point of panic attacks. This abnormal or incessant phobia can significantly affect an affected person's day-to-day lives and happiness. If this sounds like you, try some of the tips we have down below.
Is it Normal to Fear Aging?
Anxieties creep up in many different ways. Fear of aging is one of the most common anxieties that can be manifested. It is especially prevalent when you think about how often you receive images focusing on “reversing the effects of aging” or youth-centered advertisements. Aging may not only affect your self-esteem but your psychological and emotional well-being as well.
But what happens when you can no longer keep up with the latest trends, or none of the wrinkle creams seem to be working?
How to Overcome Your Fear of Aging
How you see and live your life can have an immediate effect on how you feel about getting older and the aging process overall. Learning to develop a different mindset won't happen overnight, but there are steps you can take that may help you have a more successful aging process.
You can take certain measures to improve your approach to living. The following tips may help you feel better about how your life is constantly evolving, how you mature, and how aging affects everyone.
1. Change your perspective
Changing your perspective on how you view the aging process can change your life. Your attitude is what determines how you see things.
Choosing to embrace life and the aging process can help free your mind from the anxieties and concerns about what you may look like as you get older, or even what can happen as you get older. By shifting this perspective, you can work on embracing gratitude for life’s lessons as opposed to fearing upcoming changes.
Here are some ways to change your perspective:
- Instead of counting the number of years you have left, try taking stock of your life’s experiences.
- Instead of wishing you were younger, try counting your blessings for the years you’ve lived.
- Instead of wanting to turn back the clock, try embracing the present.
- Instead of worrying about when you’ll die, try living your best life every day.
- Instead of living in fear, try living in gratitude.
2. Learn to love yourself
Learning to love yourself goes beyond having positive self-esteem and repeating daily mantras in front of the mirror. This is a lifelong process that evolves right along with you. When you love yourself, it should be unconditional. It is important to note that there’s a distinction between having high self-esteem and loving yourself.
Self-esteem is having confidence in one’s worth and abilities. Self-love means having regard for your well-being and happiness.
Here are some simple and effective ways in which you can boost your self-love:
- Accept your emotions. Instead of avoiding how you’re feeling, process the way you feel. Permit yourself to acknowledge your feelings instead of trying to suppress them.
- Live in the present. When you waste your energy worrying about what was and what will be, you lose focus on what you have now.
- Determine who you are. Take the time to learn who you are and what your values are. When you learn about what makes you tick, you’re more likely to live your life in a way that resonates with what’s important to you.
- Do what makes you happy. Try and start your day by doing the things that make you happy and bring you joy. Carving out quality time in your day for the things that matter most to you will help you live a more joyful and fulfilling life.
- Take care of your body. Finding time each day to get proper exercise and nutrition will not only boost your feel-good receptors but will recharge your energy and satisfaction with the way you look and feel.
3. Accept the aging process
Aging does not mean that your life has ended. There’s beauty to be found at every stage of life. Everyone has a different way of defining beauty and finding vibrancy at any age.
But beyond physical beauty, there’s beauty in living. Living your life in a way that brings you contentment and fulfillment tends to get better as you get older. With age comes the understanding of who you are and what you stand for.
4. Live in gratitude
How can you live in gratitude when everything around you seems to be falling apart? A good place to start is by showing gratitude for the positive things in your life. Start with the basics: health, abilities, friends, family, pets, and your home. When you live in gratitude, it can have a positive effect on both your mental and physical well-being.
When you feel up to it, take a moment to reflect on all the things that you have to be grateful for. Consider getting creative and writing or reading poems about aging to encourage yourself when you need a little pick me up.
5. Make every moment count
With aging, you may also realize how fragile life is. By making every moment count, you are encouraged to live a life full of purpose. This doesn’t require you to make significant changes in your life.
You can find purpose and meaning by simply creating the time in your day to enjoy your friends and family, creating memories, and living a life that fills you with joy.
Some examples are:
- Spending quality time with your loved ones
- Reconnecting with friends
- Slowing down and embracing life
- Making time for what’s important
- Living your dreams
6. Stop comparing
Comparing yourself to what others may have or have accomplished can rob you of your joy. Sometimes it’s hard to overlook other’s successes without feeling envious and how they compare to yours.
You can naturally find yourself measuring up your own life to see how it compares. But when you make the effort to stop comparing, you can free yourself of the constant struggle to keep up. You’ll find that you enjoy your life more the way it is than if you try to keep up with others.
7. Live for others
Learning to live a selfless life may help bring you fulfillment in ways that you might not have ever imagined. When you work to see the world beyond your perspective, you may find that there are other things in life that can add value to yours. At that point, aging can become less of a priority or is placed at the back of your mind with no detrimental effect on you.
Living for others doesn’t mean neglecting yourself. You can and should do what makes you happy and brings fulfillment to you. Ways in which you can incorporate living for others into your life:
- Learn to say yes when others need your help
- Validate others’ feelings and emotions
- Giving of yourself freely without expectation
- Loving more than you are loved
- Give more than what is asked for
8. Build your legacy
You can control the narrative of your life by building the legacy that you want to leave behind. Legacies are not always about how much money you've bestowed upon your heirs, or the philanthropic donations you’ve made to your favorite charities.
The legacy you leave behind can also mean the memories you’ve created with others, the way they'll remember you, and what you were best known for while alive. If you want to be remembered in a certain way, start living your life in a way that reflects how you want to be remembered.
9. Enjoy your life
When you age, it’s natural to start thinking about things like who will take care of you, how you’ll manage on your own, and how you’ll pay for the things that you need. This is all a part of things to think about when you consider the last years of your life and if you’ll be able to age in place.
One of the best ways to enjoy your life today is to prepare for tomorrow. You can start by taking simple steps to ensure that you have the answers to the questions above. Once you come up with a viable plan, set it in motion, and relax about it.
10. Explore the world
One of the positive side effects of aging is that you no longer need permission or validation from others to do what’s best for you or the things that you enjoy.
This is a great time to explore the world around you. You can start small by visiting areas nearby and working your way up to more faraway places.
Tips for Overcoming a Fear of Looking Older
We live in a society that emphasizes aesthetics and also equates a youthful appearance with attractiveness. Everywhere we turn, media sells messages to us saying that we should look a certain way, and if we don't look that way, influencers tell us which cosmetic procedures will get us there.
Even though we know better and we try not to, it's easy to let our feelings about our looks take over and determine all other aspects of our self-esteem. Although aging is undoubtedly unavoidable, choosing how we see ourselves and embracing different stages in our lives will significantly help our self-worth and help us overcome our fear of looking older.
11. Decide what beauty is to you
Beauty as portrayed by advertisements and social media can sometimes present a false sense of reality. Beauty comes in all forms and fashions. Learn to appreciate the beauty you see around you and the beauty in everyday people. Remind yourself that regardless of which season of life you're in, bountiful beauty comes with it.
Every wrinkle and gray hair comes with wonderful stories that you need to share with the world. Try to set aside society's ideas on how we should look. By changing your definition of beauty, you'll indeed be able to appreciate your own.
12. Don’t sweat the small stuff
We all have those particular days when our hair refuses to cooperate, or we struggle to get our necktie on just right. Days like these often cause us to stress while making a “mountain out of a molehill.” Stress not only affects our emotional state but may also affect our physical appearance. Stress causes a change to the proteins in our skin and reduces its elasticity, contributing to wrinkle formation.
Declining stress levels may lead to younger-looking skin and overall better well-being and appearance. Try implementing a few stress management techniques into your daily routine, such as light exercise, meditating, or even taking a nap.
13. Give yourself a break
Every day we get up and strive to put our best foot forward, starting with our appearances. At times, this task alone can be taxing on a person. Our “good clothes” can be confining and uncomfortable, our shoes blistering our feet. Sometimes, we have to give ourselves a break.
Try ditching those stiff clothes and going a day or two without makeup. By allowing your skin and body to breathe, you will notice that you look and feel better. As we age, our bodies and styles change. Consider revamping your style or wardrobe to fit your current lifestyle.
14. Your smile is your best accessory
It’s no secret that getting good rest and healthy eating contributes not only to your overall health but also to your appearance. However, did you know that a simple smile will do the same? Altering nothing but a facial expression is proven to improve one's image of health and success. This effect also increases as we age.
If you find yourself deep in thought, tired, or preoccupied, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and smile. Smiling elevates your mood, reduces your blood pressure, reduces pain, and makes you more attractive to others.
15. Be true to yourself
By doing what makes you happy, your confidence and natural beauty will shine through. Avoid letting the influence of people and marketing determine attractiveness and follow your heart. Once you overcome your genuine fears of aging and realize everyone ages differently, then the sky's the limit.
Additionally, there's absolutely nothing wrong with using cosmetic enhancers if you want to go that route. If you're going to get Botox, then go for it. But let it be your decision based on what works for you and not on what some genius marketer says you should do.
Getting Older is Liberating
When you can accept the natural order of our life cycle, you can become more at ease with the aging process. Living a life well-lived helps you to accept the next phase in your life at whatever age you may be.
You may even find yourself singing songs about aging that you never before imagined yourself singing.