A System Check Up for Boomers and Beyond

By Victoria Duncan

Has your computer ever gone wonky on you? Maybe pages aren’t displayed correctly, websites are loading too slowly or you have files that have disappeared. Maybe something just seems off, but you haven’t been able to put your finger on it. Glancing through the Yellow Pages (do we do that anymore?) or asking friends for a referral, we seek out a computer guru to run a system check and tuneup of our laptop so we can get back to business.

As we age, we, too, may feel like something is going wonky or just not quite right. When we look at new wrinkles, experience a new ache or pain or feel a nagging sense of discontent or emptiness, we may be tempted to reach for the quick fix of plastic surgery, an easy antidepressant, an expensive shopping trip or a luxurious trip abroad. While these feel-good interventions have their place and are personal choices, doing a simple inventory of ourselves may serve us better and help us to make changes in key areas that will provide the most help. An occasional system check will keep us humming along in optimal shape for facing the inevitable challenges that come with being an older adult.

To start your personal system check, take a look at what makes you tick in specific areas that combine to give you that overall feeling of well-being and satisfaction. If there are glaring deficiencies, schedule a tuneup for those deficiencies or concerns.

Start with your physical health. Are you fit and at an appropriate weight for your height and body type? Are there bad habits, such as smoking or drinking too much alcohol, that need to be addressed? How’s your energy level and sleeping habits? Getting enough rest not only makes one look better, but will make you feel better. Finally, do you follow through with preventative health measures such as regular medical and dental checkups? Rule out any medical problems that may be preventing you from the quality of life that you desire.

Take stock of your emotional well-being. How satisfied are you with the important relationships in your life? Do you maintain a positive outlook and practice gratitude? How do you handle stress? Unhappiness and strain take a toll on our physical appearance. We not only wear our heart on our sleeves but, more importantly, on our face! Perhaps a few sessions with a therapist or life coach would help identify some underlying issues contributing to your self-image and also teach you a few new tricks from the exciting field of positive psychology so you can learn to maximize all the good things already in your life.

How about your spiritual well-being? Fears of the unknown and of our inevitable decline and death are natural. Having a solid faith and spiritual source of strength grounds us, serves as a reminder of the bigger picture of what is important in life, and aids in filling an emptiness within. If this resonates with you, consider talking to a pastor or priest, a spiritual mentor or a pastoral counselor about your concerns. Beefing up a stale or neglected spiritual practice such as prayer, worship or the giving of your time, talents and resources to others often brings people solace when they face the problems of aging.

Finally, check on your financial health. Are financial worries weighing you down and wearing you out?  If you opt for a quick fix like plastic surgery or an expensive vacation, can you afford the substantial cost of this choice without straining your budget? Consider consulting a financial planner who can guide you to better handle your resources.

After your system check is done, and you’ve taken the steps to address any problem areas, reassess your need for that quick fix. Perhaps, it won’t seem as necessary now. It may be that you are happier settling for a make-up consultation and wardrobe change to update your image or a less costly weekend getaway. However, if you do decide to splurge on a big-ticket item, the effort you put into your system check will be time well spent in any case. Put in the car vernacular, a system check or tuneup  is just good maintenance and will help extend the life and performance of your equipment.

Vicki is a licensed professional counselor and can be reached at [email protected]


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