Who doesn’t want to feel younger? Whether you’re 35 or 85, everyone wishes they could feel (and look) more youthful and energetic.

Growing older is a mixed blessing. 

For most of us, growing older means becoming wiser, more adept at handling life, seeing our children (or even grandchildren) grow up and stake their claims in the world… As adults, we know how to get things done. We’ve learned to read situations and solve problems.

Aging also brings lowered metabolism and energy levels. Our bodies don’t respond the way they used to. We’re slower to pick up new skills. We gain weight in all the wrong places. Aches and pains become a way of life. We’ve learned to avoid certain foods and certain activities, for fear of the consequences.

The good news is, you don’t need diet pills, anti-wrinkle creams, or expensive trendy foods to feel younger and more vibrant. Here are 5 easy ways you can regain some of your youth right now:

 

#1 – Get More Sleep

Studies may have shown that we require less sleep as we reach our 50’s and 60’s in order to function on a daily basis – but research has also proven that sleeping a full 7 to 9 hours per night can do wonders to help us look and feel younger.

For one thing, reduced sleep has been directly tied to gradual weight gain. This may be because you’re less likely to engage in physical activity when you’re tired. It could also be related to the way your body reacts to food when you’re worn out. Namely, the pleasure impulses in your brain from eating are lessened when you’re sleepy. This is why a light snack during the day feels more filling than a total binge session late at night.

Getting a good night’s rest also sharpens up your mind and helps your body operate more efficiently. This means you’ll learn things quicker, pick up new skills faster, stay lighter on your feet and feel more energetic throughout the day. 

One final benefit of getting enough sleep, is how you look. Skin cells grow 30 times faster while we sleep. This is why your skin is more elastic, smooth and firm when you’re well rested – and why you’ll show dark circles under your eyes if you’re not. 

If you’ve been tempted by anti-aging creams and wrinkle reducers, this is your solution – and it’s free! 

 

#2 – Be Physically Active

If there is one weapon we have against the effects of aging that holds more power than any other, it’s exercise.

Regardless of age, regular exercise will do wonders across the board – and this becomes exponentially more important as you grow older. You’ll look more youthful, feel more capable, think more clearly and enjoy a better mood – all by simply adding some kind of exercise to your daily life.

Exercise helps to improve metabolism, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight. It increases bone density, for better resilience against injuries. It improves muscle strength, flexibility, balance and range of motion, helping you to get around your daily life with less pain and more confidence. It also directly improves your energy levels, so you’re always ready for the next thing.

Staying active helps improve mood and confidence. Besides the natural confidence boost that comes with looking and feeling healthier, brisk exercise releases endorphins that can be as powerful as prescription antidepressants.

Physical exercise has powerful effects on the brain as well. 20% of the calories you burn each day are consumed by your brain. Brisk exercise can improve memory retention, boost learning potential, and promotes growth and regeneration of brain cells – often providing as much or more impact on mental health than mental exercises like games and puzzles.

As an extra bonus, numerous studies have shown that regular physical exercise greatly reduces your risk for a laundry list of illnesses including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.

 

#3 – Improve Your Eating Habits

As we age, the effects of what we eat become more and more apparent in our daily food choices. You’ve no doubt noticed that some foods give you a long-term feeling of nourishment, while other (often very tasty) foods leave you feeling dull and drained.

The good news is, you don’t have to go on a juice fast, or start a diet of nothing but leafy greens in order to feel younger and better. All it takes is a few easy adjustments.

First, cut back on all forms of sugar. Sugary drinks, sugary foods, sugary snacks… There’s no single element in our diet more destructive than excess sugar. It skyrockets your daily calorie intake, causing weight gain. Studies have shown that it promotes diabetes, regardless of your weight. It gives you a quick burst of energy followed by a crash – and because sugar is highly addictive, you’ll most likely end up “fixing” that crash with more sugar.

Next, increase your intake of vegetables. You don’t have to become a vegan and live on a diet of salad – just make room for more vegetables in your daily meals. Vegetables are nature’s most powerful source of anti-aging vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay on point and keep you on your game. A carrot here and some steamed broccoli there can make a huge difference in how youthful you feel.

One final note, be aware of the kinds of fats you consume. Some fats are highly beneficial to your body – those obtained from nuts, avocado and fish are good examples. Your body genuinely needs healthy fats to function properly. They also improve satiety – or your feeling of being full and satisfied.

Other kinds of fats can be beneficial in moderation. Butter is surprisingly better for you than you might expect. Coconut oil, olive oil and other vegetable oils are also good.

And then there are the kinds of fats you’ll want to avoid – this includes most animal fats, and hydrogenated vegetable oils such as margarine and shortening. Saturated fats like those found in meats, poultry and lard increase your risk of heart disease. Trans fats are commonly found in fried foods, snack foods and margarine – and these are more dangerous to your health than any other kind.

 

#4 – Get Out and Be Adventurous

When you were a kid, the great outdoors was your playground. Nature was just waiting to be conquered and explored. A good hiking trail positively begged you to follow it. Getting dirty was a way of life – much to our parents’ distress when we returned to track it into the house.

As we grow older, we get set in our ways and tend to make fewer variations in our daily routine. We’ve learned to avoid getting dirty. Avoid the outdoor places that aren’t crucial to our careers or survival. Our surroundings are often familiar and uneventful. Our paths, straight and to the point.

While there’s some comfort to be found in being creatures of habit, these physical ruts we walk also enforce mental ones. The world seems very small when you only travel a tiny portion of it.

Want to feel young again? Change things up! Travel new paths. Try new experiences. Explore the wild places and get dirty again. 

Not only will exploring new places, activities and hobbies remind you of your youth – but it also has profound psychological effects. A change of scenery can help you break out of old habits and build better ones. It also helps you break free of emotional boundaries and see life from a fresh point of view.

Studies have also shown that taking time off work for substantial vacations and immersing yourself in new places and experiences has been linked to a longer average lifespan

 

#5 – Embrace Nostalgia

On the topic of reliving a portion of our youth, nostalgia is a largely undervalued weapon against aging. That’s a scientific fact.

You may fear that pouring over old memories will remind you of how old you’ve become – but the reality is it will remind you of how you felt in your younger years. Studies have shown that nostalgia is psychologically energizing. 

Listening to music you enjoyed in your youth has been shown to have great positive effects including feelings of optimism, improved self-esteem and a renewed sense of belonging. Study results have shown that people who listened to music that made them feel nostalgic tended to feel younger than their physical age. This effect becomes most pronounced in those 40 or older.

Engaging in activities of our youth can have similar effects – as mentioned above. Whether it’s a hike in the woods, listening to a song you loved as a teen, or playing a game you obsessed over as a child – bringing back memories of your youth can literally make you feel younger at heart and more optimistic about life.