An average Indian woman’s life revolves around her home and hearth. No sooner does she finish studies than she is married to become busy with a family. Her youth is spent in catering to the needs of her husband and nurturing her children. Her entire family is dependent on her.
With the passage of time, everything goes on changing. The children grow up and develop their own individual lives and drift away from the mother and home. The husband, busy in climbing up the ladder of success, does not have as much time for the wife as he had earlier. The bond of physical attraction which once made the man and wife inseparable becomes weak with time. The result? By the time a woman reaches the middle age, she becomes lonely and frustrated. She begins to feel like a useless appendage in the family fabric. Her anxiety is further deepened with the onset of menopause. She panics and feels that the end of the fertility period spells the end of womanhood.
In reality, there is no reason for a woman to now feel dejected, depressed and lonely. Middle-age is a vital phase of life. A phase, from which a woman can benefit the most. She can use these years of being free from family responsibilities to blossom out into a mature, successful woman with a distinct individuality and personality – an achiever in her own right.
It is never too late to do anything on life. Many famous women attained distinction and fame in their middle age. Willa Cather, the first woman Pulitzer Prize winner, achieved the distinction at the age of 49, way back in 1922. Mary Baker Eddy founded the Christian Science Association in 1876 at the age of 55. Mrs. Margaret Thatcher became the British Prime Minister at the age of 53. Our own Indira Gandhi had left behind her youth when she entered active politics and went on to become the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, and later, the Prime Minister. Read more about such women here and here.
There are several women who entered the field of entrepreneurship in their middle age- and attained distinction. Don’t think therefore that just because your family does not need as much of your time and attention as it earlier did, you have to lead a worthless, vegetable existence. Middle-age is a time to discover yourself, to revive your latent spirit and awaken your dormant talent.
Now is the time to get set and begin the journey of renewal and revival. Come on, discover a new and better self. Here are the milestones to be covered in this journey of renewal.
“A healthy mind lives in a healthy body,” is an old adage. A fit and healthy body and a good appearance certainly boosts your confidence and gives you the courage to fight adverse circumstances. So, pay attention to fitness.
Critically, examine yourself. How has your body responded to the passage of years? Are you healthy and fit and filled with zest for life? If not, work on it.
Start on an exercise program immediately to improve your fitness level. The exercise plan does not mean that you have to take up a strenuous exercise regimen. The best and safest exercise for people of all levels of fitness is – WALKING. Take a morning or evening walk regularly.
In the beginning, the distance may be short and the pace slow, but gradually increase it as your fitness level improves. If you can take the walk with your husband or a friend, you will have bonus benefits. The walks can provide an opportunity for sharing each other’s views and ideas and bring the two of you closer. They could pep back into your marriage. Similarly, you can develop a close bond of camaraderie with your friend.
You can also take up a suitable exercise program or play games like badminton or tennis to keep fit. However, don’t start any strenuous activity without a thorough medical check-up by your doctor.
Your fitness plan should aim to attain the following goals:
- · Your resting pulse rate should come down to 70 to 80 per minute.
- · After any strenuous activity like climbing the stairs, your pulse rate should be about 90 per minute.
- · Your lungs should be efficient enough to hold the breath in for about 40 to 45 seconds.
As your physical fitness improves, you will find yourself not only healthy but alert and interested in every field of life.
A healthy disease-free body
Another important aspect of fitness lies in maintaining a healthy, disease-free body. Take the following steps to ensure the same:
- · Have a thorough physical checkup every year. Make sure this includes a complete gynecological examination, a blood-pressure test, hormonal-profile and a breast examination.
- · Once you are through menopause, you are more at risk from osteoporosis. Have your bone condition checked bi-annually.
- · Get your eyes tested. If changes in vision mean use of glasses choose frames which will suit your face and enhance your appearance.
- · Have a regular dental checkup. Take good daily dental care to maintain healthy teeth and give them a long life.
- · Whenever ill, though it may be “just a cold”, a “slight fever” or “dry cough”, don’t ignore or neglect the ailment but consult a doctor immediately.
The first impact you make on a person is through your appearance. How you look is as important as how you feel. Pay attention to your appearance, which includes your face, skin and the style of dressing.
Facial care can be taken as follows:· You can slow down the ageing process by having a glowing, wrinkle-free skin. You shouldn’t forget to slather on sunscreen of at least SPF -30 before going out in the sun. This is a skin care tip for all ages and not just for the 40’s woman.
· Take facial care at home every day. Cleansing your face and exfoliating it once a week is also highly recommended. At night, gently massage a good moisturizing cream on your face, neck and hands. You may also use a mixture of malai / milk cream and lime juice or a mixture of rose water and glycerin instead of the commercial moisturizer.
· Also apply eye cream generously under your eyes to provide hydration to that area and to delay the onset of pesky, fine lines. Your under ye area has the thinnest skin and is prone to quick ageing.
· Forget how you made up your face in the youth. Keep abreast with the latest makeup techniques and tend your face accordingly. Outdated makeup gives you an aged look. However, take care to see that your makeup suits you and is not too loud and garish. Read this, this and this for more.
· Don’t hesitate to use hair color on your gray hair. Camouflaging your gray hair can take away a decade from your age.
· Don’t adopt outdated hairstyles. Style your hair according to the recent trends, taking care to choose a style that will suit your face and lend a simple elegance to your personality. Check this and this.
And most important don’t forget your beauty sleep. Nothing ages your skin more than sleep deprivation. Adequate sleep is a wonderful beauty aid.
You can improve your appearance by using the following tips:
· Take care when selecting your clothes and jewelry. Select clothes according to the occasion and time of the day.
· Don’t wear clothes that are old-fashioned and make you look dowdy.
· Remember, saris and salwar suits look elegant on women of all ages. Style your clothes to highlight your plus points but hide your minus points (like a bulging tummy or heavy hips.) Also read “Draping a sari for the new plump look.”
· Never wear too loud and gaudy clothes. Clothes should be stylish with a touch of quite elegance.
· Pay due attention to foot and footwear.
The food you eat is very important for your well-being. Remember, you no longer need as many calories as you did earlier, unless you are doing strenuous physical work. Reduce your calorie intake to control weight. If you are overweight, follow a sensible diet plan (no crash diets) which will help you to reduce. A good diet must have adequate proteins, vitamins and minerals but should be low in fats and sugars. Avoid oily, fried foods and sweets as far as possible. Avoid eating because you are bored, unhappy or angry. Use food to nourish your body and not to pacify your emotions.
In the middle-age, depression often sets in when the woman feels that she is being ignored and neglected by the family. That she is no longer as much needed as she used to be.
Instead of dropping into the dumps, see what you can do to improve your family relationships. Your efforts can help in building a happy, close-knit family.
In order to come close to your children, change your outlook towards them. Don’t expect them to be emotionally dependent on you for a lifetime. Change your role. Instead of their guide and mentor become their friend and confidante. Stop criticizing them and show sympathy for their view-points. Give ear to their ideas.
Ask for their suggestions in the decision-making processes. Meet your children half-way, and they will certainly co-operate too. You will then bridge the generation gap with aplomb.
The bond with the husband
The person who counts most in your life is your husband. You may be guilty of neglecting and ignoring him during the years you devoted to the upbringing of children. Now is the time to renew your bond with him. You can still enjoy a happy sex life. Just because you have reached menopause, it does not mean that you should take any interest in sex. In fact, now you are free from the fear and tension of becoming pregnant and can enjoy better sex.
Pursue your interests and hobbies
Middle-age is the time to pursue all those hobbies and interests for which you had little time during your busy years. Pick up ht threads of pastime like gardening, painting, embroidery or anything else which you previously enjoyed. You can develop new interests. Explore your dormant skills and creativity.
It is never too late to learn anything new. Mrs Priti decided to appear for SSC examination along with her youngest son and scored better marks. There are many ladies who pick up the threads of education or enter new ventures very successfully in their middle age.
You can also make your hobbies and skills a means of either earning money or winning friends. You may start classes in cookery, banking, knitting, sewing or candle making. If you don’t wish to earn money, you can teach the skills free of charge to your friends and neighbours. This will make you very popular and help you gain many friends.
You may join a social or cultural organization, ladies club or any society in your locality which is dedicated to some useful social, cultural or community welfare activity to give aim and purpose to your life and make it worth living.
Look on your work as a career and not as a mere job, and be an achiever. Whatever may be your job, however small or insignificant it may appear, your contribution is very important. Try to do your best. Don’t feel that your chore is drudgery but make it a source of joy. It will boost your self-image and your worth in others’ eyes.
As you renew your lifestyle and outlook, you will discover that middle-age is the most wonderful time of your life. Never turn your back on new interests, new friends or new ideas. We may not be able to stop the clock but we can stop watching it.
(Contributed by V. P)
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