Basic Life Skills I Didn’t Learn Until I was Over 50

September 20, 2022 at 10:01 a.m.

 A recent article in Parade magazine by Paula Spencer Scott took a look at what the author calls “super-basic life skills” that she didn’t learn until she was 50 years old.

“If only we were taught these skills alongside spelling and math!” she wrote in the article that was published on September 9.

After she turned 50, she had a “string of late-life lucky encounters” with a variety of people like a fitness guru, a therapist and other experts who taught her that there was a “right” way to stand, walk, smile and even breathe.

This article outlines her list of basic life skills everyone – especially those over age 50 – should develop.

According to the author, most people are not practicing deep breathing. “Most of us get through the day on fairly quick, shallow breaths.” Instead, breath down into the belly through your nose – breathe in so that not only your chest rises but your belly goes out. This means the diaphragm is contracting, which allows more oxygen into the lungs.  Deep breathing lowers tension.

When a physical therapist instructed the author to stand up without using her arms, she wobbled and hunched, then found she still had to clutch the arm of the chair in order to stand. Instead, the physical therapist told her, plant your feet on the floor, then use your thighs, ‘butt’ and abdomen – NOT YOUR ARMS – to power you up from a sitting position. Do the same in reverse to sit down. With practice, you will gain stability and strength from this practice and this action will become second nature.

The author states that when she paid attention, she found that her usual standing position was “like a crooked stick.” Be more conscious of how you stand and plant your feet right below your hips. Then pay attention to the weight you put on your feet and put 60 percent on your heels and 40 percent in the “toe box” area (which she describes as the ball of your big toe across to the ball of your small toe). “From this solid foundation, with my knees rotated out ever so slightly, the rest of my body can naturally and properly stack above, shoulders above pelvis.” This new way of standing means her back has stopped aching when she has to stand for long periods, like waiting in a line.

A fitness coach suggested that the author keep her shoulders down and back and “strike my steps from heel to toe.” For better balance, swing your arms straight out and coordinate the movement so that the right arm is in front when the left leg is in front, and vice versa. Seems natural, but if you’re not walking this way, pay attention!

What? How to smile? According to the author, it’s not really how to smile, but that if you include making yourself smile as a practice during your day, you can trick your brain – even if only for a brief moment – into thinking you are happy, which in turns creates the neurochemicals that make you feel happy. “Once you put [a smile] on your face, that happyish feeling with follow…To think that for 50 years, It thought it was the other way around!”

Read the full article here:

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