However, I want to stress that regardless of your age, it's never too late to start. Numerous studies have shown that changing lifestyle habits in terms of diet and exercise, along with quitting smoking, have significant benefits as you grow older, even if you are already getting your AARP card. Before I discuss this research and what you can do, let's take a quick look at the science of aging. Whatever it is that you need to make a start on, make a deal with yourself: tell yourself you'll do it for just five minutes. Answer one email. Run one time around the block. Instead of putting things off - instead of trying to clean the entire kitchen, for example, or arrange every aspect of a holiday or answer all those emails or sort through all those photos - tell yourself you'll do it for just five minutes. Start doing something immediately, without thinking and giving your mind time to come up with excuses. Start on what you intend to do immediately, before you begin to doubt your abilities or fear that you'll fail. You may well find that, once you get going, you end up continuing well past the five-minute mark you'd decided on. If even the smallest task seems too hard, tell yourself you're just going to do five minutes right now. Make it ridiculously easy. Make it easy for yourself to get started on the things you do actually want to achieve. The five-minute rule works for any goal for one simple reason: the physics of real life. As Sir Isaac Newton discovered, objects at rest tend to stay at rest, but objects in motion tend to stay in motion. This is just as true for humans as it is for falling apples! When you act `as if', you generate the physical motions, which, in turn, can trigger the thoughts - the positive thoughts - which correspond to that physical action. Flags alert us to something, usually to danger. We can learn what our red flags are and to recognize them when they pop-up. Then we can take appropriate action to save ourselves trouble, to avoid getting into a mess.

We can be conscious of little bits of available time; using them decreases the pressure we feel. Some of my personal red flags are: "I'll do that later," and "Oh, it'll be OK," and "I have plenty of time." One thing at a time can be applied in many different ways. Focus on one thing off my red card of five; that's one way. Another way is in learning the guitar. Here, I'm struggling. I just signed up for another course on line, which looked very good and was very cheap (they're always on sale.). Couldn't pass it up. Now that I have it, it is indeed very good. A bargain. Problem is I haven't finished the blues guitar course DVD, nor the fretboard lessons book, nor the other on line course I recently signed up for. In fact, the DVD and the book and the first online course are on my list of things I'm avoiding. In each of them, I started and then ran into something difficult, and without really thinking about it I just let it go and started on something else. So what I need to do now is to sit down with my yellow legal pad and organize. That's the guitar courses. I'm working on learning just one song, and that's going pretty well. The trick is to not be impatient but to break the song into very small parts, and learn one part at a time. Remember small steps? When I have all the small parts learned it is easy to start with the first one and add the next to it, and learn that, and then keep putting parts together into larger parts until I have the whole thing. So I know how to do that and it's working well, one song at a time. I just need to force myself to stick to one song at a time, not be trying to learn two or three at once.

But at the same time, I'm also trying to learn the different notes on the fretboard, like the notes on the piano keys, and the names of some chords. I'm not focused or organized. I need to pick the one online course and stay with it, while it's still available on the internet. All the other courses I can get to later. I need to break the fretboard into very small chunks (not literally, of course; that's silly!) and do a little at a time, and also one new chord at a time, plus focus on the one song and on the first online course. That still may be too much at once, but that's my current strategy; I hope I can stick to it. Someone is going to misunderstand what I explain to them, or they might misapply it. Of course, sometimes when they misapply it they do it in ways that make things turn out better than what I had originally intended. But that wasn't the case with a patient, Mr. B. He was feeling pretty overwhelmed; he had a lot of things to do. Mr. B may have ADD but we haven't actually considered that; we've had other things to deal with first. Anyway, he came in one day feeling overwhelmed, with too many things to do. I explained to him about to do-lists, the long one and the list of five. He thought that sounded good. The next appointment he was still feeling overwhelmed, and after we discussed it, I asked him how many things he had to do now. He replied, "A lot!" Studies show that these strategies work well for many people, and you can use them right away. While these strategies might help most with small stresses, they are still worth doing if they free up your energy to deal with big stresses. Exercise and movementExercise and movement are great ways to relieve stress.

This works because stress naturally makes you want to do something active. The "fight or flight" response literally makes you want to fight or run away; exercise helps the body to work through that urge. Research shows that movement helps most with stress if you enjoy it, so it is good to look for ways to make exercise fun. For example, you could move to your favourite music. Movement eases stress for about one day, so it is best to do a bit of exercise each day, rather than doing a lot of exercise once or twice a week. Social support Research shows that socializing makes people happier and less stressed. People thrive on human contact because of a "tend and befriend" instinct that comes through in times of stress. This happens because the body releases oxytocin, a chemical that helps people to form bonds with each other. The Internet can make people look more connected but feel even more alone. Checking social media is not enough true contact to meet human needs. It is important to have two-way communication, face-to-face or voice-to-voice. Always remember the basic needs of the body. People are all living creatures and need food, water, rest and company. These needs are clear in children, but for some reason adults often lose track of them. Sometimes you may even see these basic self-care tasks as a luxury, or even as a chore, however, they are essential to your health. When you notice signs of stress, try asking yourself "Have I taken care of the basics?" One good reminder is the "TLC" Rule: If you are Tired, Lonely or Craving something (such as food, water or warmth), you need Tender Loving Care. Intellectually, we know that nothing can remain the same and that impermanence is a fact of life, but experientially and emotionally, we find this hard to accept. We seek permanence. And yet we do not have the same body that we were born with, nor when we were young, nor as an adult of twenty, thirty, forty, and so forth. The cells in our bodies are constantly engaged in self-renewal and deterioration.

If all things are constantly changing, then mind and mood states must be subject to the same process. We perpetuate low mind and mood states by avoiding them, hanging on to them, or struggling with experiences or situations that are impermanent. The way we make meaning of the resulting mind and mood states contribute to building an identity as a depressed person. It is also true that whereas we understand the concept of impermanence, we don't believe in it until we have the lived experienced of it through practicing mindfulness. That experience is impersonal is embedded in the concept of not-self or non-self, a core teaching of Buddhism, though difficult to grasp. There are three aspects to this idea, and these are that we are all connected, we are all subject to the changing nature of experience (causes and conditions), and though we personalize everything, all experience is universal. Ignoring these leads to a fixed sense of self, the trap of identity. We get caught into thinking that there is such an entity as a permanent and unchanging self. If we believe this, we become prone to wanting to hold onto what is "me" or "mine," and this produces unhappiness and suffering. If, on the other hand, we can see that events are impersonal, that we are all interconnected, and that everything is subject to change, then we have more ease throughout life. I love this informative and funny list that appeared in an article titled Aging Casefully: 9 Things That Happen to Your Body (Some Aren't So Bad!). Drawing on science and research, the author, Scott LaFee, shares these things that happen when you age. You sweat less. Well, to be precise, you sweat differently, particularly if you're a woman. Part of the change is related to menopause, i.e. hot flashes, but researchers have found that sweat glands (especially under the arms) shrink and become less sensitive as we age, which translates into reduced perspiration production. You're less buff. Muscle mass in both men and women begins to decline as early as one's 30s, replaced by--gasp!--flab. By age 75, the average person's fat content is twice that of their youth. Your teeth are less sensitive--and not just because you might have fewer of them.