Clare Bailey gives advice: I fear I'm too old to get a new job at 50

A problem shared…GP and mother-of-four Clare Bailey gives her indispensable advice: I fear I’m too old to get a new job at 50

  • An anonymous woman, who lives in the UK, was made redundant in past year
  • She fears that if she doesn’t feel or look her best it could be hard to get a job 
  • Clare Bailey advised the reader to try a Mediterranean-style diet and be active

Q I feel as though I’ve aged a decade in the past year — it has been so stressful. I work in retail and was made redundant.

I keep reading that women over 50 are least likely to find another job after the pandemic, and I fear that if I don’t feel or look my best it’s going to make it even harder for me. Where do I start?

A I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties, and that you are worried about the toll this is taking on your physical and mental wellbeing.

An anonymous woman, who lives in the UK, asked Clare Bailey for advice on improving her appearance and feeling less stressed (file image)

Let me start by saying that ageing is natural. Sun damage is one of the main culprits of premature ageing, and I regret not using sunscreen on the back of my hands when I was younger, as they look a good ten years older than my face.

Poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking and excessive drinking also play a part. And, as in your case, stress, overwork, disrupted sleep, anxiety and depression will accelerate the process, too.

These can all lead to chronic inflammation in your body and brain. The effect is a bit like driving a car at 70mph all the time — the parts wear out faster. Try out these three tests to assess your biological clock…

1. Skin elasticity: Try the ‘snap test’. Lay your hand flat and pinch the skin on the back of it. Hold it for five seconds, then release. How quickly does it flatten out? Young skin springs back quickly, while older skin can take more than ten seconds.

Clare (pictured) advised the reader to choose a lowish-carb Mediterranean-style diet to reverse damage and help maintain a healthy weight 

2. Balance: Can you stand on one leg with your eyes closed for more than ten seconds? If you’re over 40 and you can, you’re doing well. Balance tends to get worse as we age, with falls being the second most common cause of accidental death worldwide.

3. Resting heart rate: 60 beats per minute or fewer suggests you are fit; over 80 is a bad sign.

Now you know what is happening and why, there are several changes you can make to turn back the clock.

You may have heard me say these before, but I will keep saying them as they really are the answer!

Diet is key. If you eat lots of sweet, highly processed foods, it’s going to generate a pro-inflammatory state. Instead, choose a lowish-carb Mediterranean-style diet, as it will reverse the damage and help you maintain a healthy weight.

Be active and do regular, moderate exercise to boost your mood and energy levels. And always wear sun cream.

In terms of stress, first, make a list of the worries you can do something about and take action. Try learning to accept those you can’t change through mindfulness (mindful.org), or ask your GP about cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

These changes will lay the foundations for ageing well, but for instant impact, book in for a haircut, facial and manicure.

You may be worried about money, but use some of your redundancy pay and think of it as an investment in yourself. How you look will not only boost your confidence, it will also ensure you are looking and feeling your best so you can land that great new job.

The post-pandemic book you need 

This month I’ll be reading This Too Shall Pass by Julia Samuel.

Drawing on her experience as a psychotherapist, she examines the process of change by drawing on conversations with her patients. She shows how we can learn to thrive during our most difficult experiences, from Covid to menopause.

If you’re stuck in a rut, you might also want to ask your GP about acceptance and commitment therapy, which helps people move on.

You can write to Clare at [email protected] or Daily Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT.

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