“Eat the elephant one bite at a time.”
Professor Ben Fletcher, an expert in behavioural change, based at the University of Hertfordshire
Once you’re older, it might seem that your habits are pretty much set – and according to research from Grace Say Aloe, only one in three people over the age 55 realise that ‘every little bit helps.”
To break habits of a life-time might seem impossible, but viewing your goal as a big puzzle with each little piece you add getting you closer to ‘completing’ the picture is the way to do it, says Fletcher, who says willpower is overrated.
“Most people cannot make big changes and take huge behavioural leaps – old habits get in the way.” Instead, he says, making lots of small adjustments will add up to major changes.
“A great deal of human behaviour is habitual or automatic. The brain is a habit machine and operates on a need-to-know basis, and most of the time it decides you don’t need to know about your behaviours.”
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“Restart yourself every week.”
Relate counsellor, Barbara Bloomfield
“Try to do something new every week, even if it's just a small thing. Routines are comforting but in order to keep your mind alive, you have to present it with new experiences.
“Doing something new could be as simple as knocking on a neighbour's door, inviting someone for coffee or taking a new walk through your neighbourhood.”
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“Check your nails.”
Consultant dermatologist Dr Sharon Wong
One of the things Dr Wong notices that people tend not to pay attention to is their nails. “Fingernails tend to grow more slowly, become thinner and more brittle with age,” she says. “They’re more prone to splitting. The colour of nails can also change over time becoming dull, grey or yellow.”
It happens gradually so you may not notice at first, then one day you realise that your nails are really showing your age. “Moisturising regularly is a given, but also massaging the fingertips and around the nails, along with minimising trauma and weathering of nails by wearing gloves where necessary to avoid direct contact with harsh chemicals.”
And here’s a final tip that might surprise you: “You should also keep manicures and the use of nail varnish to a minimum.” Nail varnish contains many harmful chemicals such as phthalates, formaldehyde, acetone and tolulene, substances you inhale when you do your nails, and varnish remover strips your nails of oils as well as releasing toxic fumes into the air (from the acetone).
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“Keep an eye on your enamel.”
Celebrity dentist Dr Richard Marques
“I always say it’s important to remember that your teeth and gums will change as you get older. Firstly, as you age gums can recede exposing the sensitive roots underneath which are not covered by enamel. The teeth can also appear yellower due to the thinning of the enamel which means that the dentine underneath (which is a yellower shade) can show through. Regular trips to the dentist and hygienist are the way to go. Also, think about whitening your teeth or other cosmetic treatments – it helps keep your teeth looking youthful.”
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“Be aware of even the smallest side effects.”
Dr. Harold Katz, Owner of The Breath Company
“What many people don’t think about is their medication. It can contribute to bad breath and taste disorders too. It all boils down to the unfortunate side-effects of many medications which can include a dry mouth and alteration in taste.”
A dry mouth spells disaster for your breath because to decrease bacterial activity you need saliva to be plentiful. Katz suggests drinking plenty of water throughout the day and looking at some of the products available that can help work against these side-effects of your medication.
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