Christine Webber

We all have days when we don’t feel “quite right”.

This happens throughout life but seems more common as we grow older –and that’s probably because we have less structure to our days, extra time on our hands, and more periods when we’re alone, or even lonely.

Our emotions may be hard to pinpoint precisely, but are likely to include a sense of:

  • Irritation
  • Being below par
  • Boredom
  • Lack of purpose

In a nutshell, we feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied. This is very unpleasant, so unless these feelings are short-lived, we should tackle them – which generally requires us to dig into thoughts we’ve been trying to ignore, and to face up to them.   

Could it be your appearance? Do you feel you look a mess? Unfit? Overweight? 

Is it your attitude? Are you grumpy? Are you worried that your useful days are over? Are you disappointed with how your life is going? 

Is it your behaviour? Have you got into the habit of drinking too much? Are you eating the wrong things – but lack the incentive to change?

Has your routine become dull? Are you doing less exercise? Sleeping at odd hours?

Do you see friends less than you used to?

Do you wish you were back at work full-time? Do you miss the company of colleagues?

Do you worry that you’re not contributing to society? Or are you concerned that your only income comes from pensions and savings?

If none of the above questions help you find the cause of your unease, try asking yourself:  

  • Well, what exactly is wrong with my day?
  • What do I wake up worrying about?
  • What thoughts do I have about my body, my routine, my behaviour or my attitude that I refuse to confront?  

You may have a sudden moment of realisation, or it may take a while, but if you allow your mind to delve into areas you tend not to visit, I think you’ll come up with some answers. By the way, if siting home and thinking isn’t working, go for walks. This usually helps.

Let me tell you about some people I know who used to feel as you do, but who’ve managed to make changes that have boosted their satisfaction and contentment.

A widower had got into bad habits of drinking too much and snacking all through the evening and well into the night.

His sleep was all over the place, and he had taken to spending the afternoons slumped on his sofa.

This led to a loss in fitness and an increase in weight.

He contacted me after I gave a talk to a group he attends and told me that what I’d said about Positive Ageing made him take a good look at himself.

Six weeks later, he’s eating and drinking earlier in the evening, and sleeping better as a result. He also exercises most days and has set himself a target of walking a mile in 20 minutes without getting out of breath. This poor man has been going through a long process of grief.

Unfortunately, the behaviour that arose out of his sorrow made him feel even worse. But he’s on the right road now and is happier.  

A woman friend, a former doctor, has been worrying that her lifestyle was making her old before her time.

And though she no longer wants to work as a medic, she realised she missed being in the company of folk she’d always worked with; people who had cheered her days and offered loads of friendship and affirmation.

So, recently, she took a part-time job in the health service in a different role. As I’ve mentioned before, there are over 350 types of career in the NHS so there’s plenty of choice.  

A former workmate of mine retired early to help his son and daughter-in-law by looking after their children after school and in the holidays.

Unfortunately, he quickly became disenchanted with his role because his two grandsons seemed to want to spend their entire leisure time in front of some screen or other. He didn’t want to be an “interfering grandad” and, to be honest, was slightly afraid of his daughter-in-law if he made changes, but he knew things had to alter.

So, he started doing more of the childcare from his own home.

At first the kids were reluctant to drive the five miles with him to his house, but when he promised a treasure hunt in the garden, they became enthusiastic.

This led to him being able to share his pleasure in growing vegetables and soon they wanted to help him. He also built a den with them so they could play games of make-believe and have adventures.

These children are always going to be a product of the digital age, but they’ve become keener on the outside world and my old colleague is now the sort of grandfather he wants to be.   

Obviously, these scenarios wouldn’t suit everyone. But they show how, if we’re resourceful, we can find ways to combat that “out of sorts” feeling.

When we do, we will be more able to age positively.

And that’s a result!