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Wellness

Happier & Healthier: 5 Life Hacks for Gen Xers

Gen X, the Jan Brady generation in between Boomers and Millennials, doesn’t need a lot of accolades or coddling. We don’t need to move in with our kids (just yet), and some of us are still doing triathlons, thank you very much. But we’re also human, and time takes its toll. Here’s what’s going on when you’re in your 50s and 60s and what you can do about it.

Your Brain

You may be wondering what’s happening to your memory, and sometimes it seems like you’re forgetting the simplest things like … what is that again? …yes, words. That’s because some parts of the brain are shrinking, neural connections aren’t as sharp and blood flow may not be as robust. But it’s common and no cause for alarm.

“Normal age-related memory loss doesn’t prevent you from living a full, productive life. For example, you might occasionally forget a person’s name but recall it later in the day. You might misplace your glasses sometimes. Or maybe you need to make lists more often than in the past to remember appointments or tasks,” reports the Mayo Clinic. Some conditions that can cause temporary memory loss are certain medications; trauma, such as a blow to the head; stress, anxiety and depression; alcoholism; a vitamin B-12 deficiency; hypothyroidism; and infection in the brain.

Your Skin

Your skin is affected by so many things that are controllable, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, exposure to sun and pollutants and eating food that causes inflammation. But skin is also a victim of genetics and time. As we age, we naturally lose fat (in the places we want it) and slow production of collagen and elastin, the compounds that keep our skin firm and plump. Wrinkles and fine lines show up as hormonal levels thin out and dry skin, and it takes us longer to recover from wounds and scrapes.

The Rest of Your Body

Hate to break it to you, but your metabolism is slowing down, so it’s going to be harder to burn off calories (and, bonus! you’re more likely to become constipated). You’re also losing bone mass and cartilage, and you’re producing less of the fluid that lubricates your bones. Your libido may be taking a hit from the hormonal changes. And speaking of those, menopause brings a whole party to your body in the form of diminished bladder control, night sweats, thinner skin, hot flashes, and general achiness.

Hacks That Can Help

The great news is that most of the hacks to help one area also multitask to help the rest of your body and your skin. In short, doing one or all of these suggestions doesn’t take a lot of time or effort but can pay back a much larger return.

Double up, buttercup: Look for sunscreens that do more than one thing. For example, we love these three tinted versions, which can go on alone or under foundation and minimize discoloration and spots. Senté’s Tinted Invisible Shield Full Physical carries a hefty 49 SPF with broad-spectrum UVA/UVB plus a pollution shield and blue-light defense; Alastin HydraTint Pro Mineral Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 36 is great for thirsty skin; ZO Skin Health’s Sunscreen + Primer 30 SPF helps your other makeup go on better—or you can skip that altogether.

Mix it up: When you try a new workout, you’re training your brain to create new neural pathways, helping your metabolism and your muscle tone. Even better, when you do different exercises, studies show that you’re more likely to enjoy your workouts and keep going. So if you’re a regular runner, try a spin class for a change; yogis can venture into Zumba; the truly adventurous among us can look at those aerial dance classes for some crazy beautiful fun.

Screen saver: Go on a “screens” diet. It’s no secret that prolonged exposure to TVs, computer screens and mobile devices interferes with our health. Screen time affects our sleep; we become sedentary as binge-watching becomes easier than ever; it damages our vision and creates neck and back pain from holding a position for prolonged periods of time. You may not be able to avoid screens for some activities, such as work or navigation while driving. But you can substitute other activities (that are also good for your brain and health) for the time you’re killing on watching TV, scrolling social media feeds, playing games and reading e-books. Instead, try picking up a physical book, taking a walk, meeting friends, making a phone call, writing a real letter or card, enrolling in a class, taking a nap or getting in a workout. 

Don’t do anything: Meditation is not only good for calming and clearing your mind, boosting creativity and improving productivity, but researchers also found dramatic improvements with a regular meditation process for a number of physical conditions. Those include high blood pressure, pain, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, insomnia, addiction, and menopause.

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