If you’ve found yourself thinking, “Wow, youth really is wasted on the young!” then this article is for you.
Then, there is this sudden whiplash as you near the fifth decade of your life, your 40s. Suddenly, you wish you were back on the family cellular plan.
Instead, you’re told your pregnancy is considered geriatric (lol), your thyroid is being an absolute jerk, and you’re suddenly at an increased risk for bone loss, a variety of cancers, and heart disease.
Oh, and get ready for menopause—or perimenopause. Okay, but getting older is actually amazing—here’s why.
This Is 40
What we’re saying to anyone in their 20s or 30s is: listen to advice. Pick out the advice that resonates with you and move through your life. Without further ado, here are our favorite habits and practices from women who have reached mid-life.
1. They Prioritize Health
As women age, there is increased attention to screening for breast cancer with mammograms, calcium deficiencies and osteoporosis, cholesterol, and general prevention of health issues that affect women.
While you can hold out on those specific exams until then, there are many other reasons to see your physician once a year before that time. Women of every age should seek an annual gynecological exam, which typically includes a clinical breast exam, a pelvic exam, and a pap test to screen for cervical cancer.
And if you feel like you aren’t financially able to swing it, familiarize yourself with your health insurance benefits—you might even qualify for a health coach who can help you determine what checkups are best.
2. They Prioritize Self-Care
Self-care is an extension of healthcare. Mental health feeds directly into your physical health. Self-care is not the weekly massage, the chemical peel, or the shoes. I mean, it could be, but the point is as follow: Self-care does not have to equate to spending money.
Think of self-care as being cognizant of how you spend your time and energy. Focus on getting sleep, doing less doomscrolling, reading more, watching a movie that makes you happy, and spending time with people who make you laugh.
3. They Get More Confident
While men stagnate in their confidence levels, women continue to become more confident—and women are actually more confident than their male counterparts by age 60. Tell that to a red sports car!
4. They Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods
Anyone who hit puberty in the midriff era knows a thing or two about counting calories and foregoing a calcium-rich ice cream for a box of Snackwells, which had low calories and even lower nutrients.
Yikes, dark times.
Okay, it doesn’t have to be salmon, but women in their forties realize that eating vitamin D-rich foods will help suppress depression and stress, both of which are more likely to spike around this time.
So, get used to eating salmon in your twenties, and you’ll avoid the winter blues for decades to come.
5. They Wear Sunscreen
By this point, we have all grown up knowing that sun protection and skin preservation are crucial to our health. If you’re spending $80+ on moisturizer and neglecting to layer sunscreen over it, you’re wasting money and endangering your skin.
And if they didn’t in previous decades, they regret it now that they’re facing skin cancer screenings. They also tend to buy more expensive skincare products with their expendable income.
Since you don’t necessarily have those extra funds in your twenties and thirties, we’ll try and make it simple: just wear the sunscreen.
6. They Spend Time With Their Parents + Family
“But I just moved out!” We know.
Spend time with your parents, your siblings, or your chosen family. That’s right. Not all blood relations are great for your mental health, but your chosen family is important, too.
7. They Adopt a Work-Life Balance That Fits
Women in their forties have spent their twenties and thirties pleasing others and saying “yes” to far too many things.
So by the time they’ve reached this decade, their ideals and values are enough established that choosing family over fun and long trips over long hours are sure-fire ways of achieving balance.
8. They Embrace Change
Unlike many of us, women who are 40 know that life is full of unexpected twists and turns. By now, they’ve learned that lamenting over change is counterproductive and we’d do well to learn that, too.
9. They Save Money + Spend Wisely
Yes, women in their forties likely have a little more money in their accounts than most 22-year-olds.
Financial Rule: Start Young, Not Big
10. They Take Professional Development Into Their Own Hands
While you’re searching for a mentor, women in their 40s are unintentionally mentoring all day long.
11. They Re-Evaluate Their Lives
When Oprah turned 40, she not only reassessed her show, she reassessed her life. For many months, she acknowledged she’d “been guilty of doing trash TV and not even thinking it was trash.” So she intentionally shifted the premise of her show away from what was popular and back to what she set out to do.
Re-evaluating your life should be a regular practice. What “worked” for us at age 22 is likely not going to fit into our lives by the time we’re 40 years old.
Some ways to pre-plan or re-plan your life can include:
- Making (and editing) 5-year plans
- Checking in on your fertility (just in case)
- Removing toxic elements from our life (bad jobs, bad friends, bad partners)
In Conclusion—Don’t Wait
There’s a common feeling of being young forever, then waking up to midlife quite unexpectedly. Suddenly, we feel behind on the healthy habits that keep us alive and well.
The saying goes that youth is wasted on the young. Let’s not waste our 20s and 30s ignoring the advice of beautiful women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond.
Also, call your mom.