Yes, 2017 is just around the corner! So, I thought I would give you some healthy habits to think about and some new ideas perhaps! The habits you have now may affect your health in the future.
While most people know living a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and eating high fat foods are unhealthy habits, they may not be aware of all the healthy habits that can contribute to a longer life.
Consider adopting some of the 12 healthy habits in 2017 listed below to increase your chances of living a longer and happier life.
1. Go outside more
Even in the dead of winter, getting outside for a little bit each day can make you feel better. Take a walk, enjoy the fresh air, connect with nature and enjoy the simple (and free) pleasure of being outside. Try to really look hard at nature around you and be totally amazed at the beauty of a leaf, flower, tree, bird, insect or larger animals. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health echoed this: being around nature can lower stress levels and boost your mental health too.
2. Spend Time With A Pet
Pets provide unconditional love and are a great source of companionship. Pet therapy is used for good reason. Spending time with a pet can lower stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol. In addition, chemicals in the brain responsible for mood, such as serotonin, are increased. Whether you’re a dog person or a cat person, play with your pets, take them for a walk or just sit and relax with them by your side. And if you don't have a pet, ask a friend who does if you could spend some time with them (the pet that is!).
3. Stop Eating Before You Are Full
Sometimes less is more, and that may be true when it comes to eating and living longer. Eating until you feel full may mean taking in more calories than your body really needs. By making it a habit to stop eating when you don’t feel hungry anymore, but before you feel full, you can reduce the amount of calories you eat every day. Although additional research is needed, some studies in animals indicate eating 40 percent fewer calories can increase life span.
4. Buckle Up
Of course we all do this don't we? But do we always insist the same for our passengers or when we are the passenger? One of the easiest habits you can adopt in order to live a longer life is buckle up in a car. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the top causes of death for people of all ages and the leading cause for people between the ages of five and 34-years old. The seat belt should fit low across your hips and the shoulder belt across your chest.
5. Eat At least 3 Servings Of Fruits And Vegetables Each Day
Fresh fruits and vegetables provide many of the essential nutrients your body needs to live a long life. Make it a habit to eat a fruit or vegetable at every meal. Try eating a variety of fruits in order to get different vitamins and minerals. When eating vegetables, think color; select vegetables that are red, dark green and yellow.
6. Keep Moving
One of the best things you can do for your health and to help increase longevity is exercise. Exercise is essential for living a healthy life. Exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week is ideal. Getting your body moving is one of the best ways to stay healthy and one that benefits your mental and physical well-being.
7. Drink Green Tea
Green tea has several health benefits, which may lead to a longer life, such as reducing the risk of certain cancers including colon, bladder and breast cancer. According to Harvard Medical School, studies indicate drinking green tea regularly may also help raise levels of good cholesterol and help lower blood pressure. Considering drinking a few cups each day. Let the tea stew for about 15 minutes to get the full benefits.
8. Floss Your Teeth Daily
Everyone brushes his or her teeth every day (well we hope so!) but what about flossing? Daily flossing will not only help you maintain good oral health, it can actually reduce your risk of heart disease. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), periodontal disease is linked to heart disease. A lack of flossing can lead to gum disease, which causes inflammation of the gums. The inflammation may eventually cause the arteries to narrow, which can lead to cardiac problems.
9. Get Enough Sleep
Continually not getting enough sleep can take years off your life. Although an occasional sleepless night will likely not have lasting ill effects, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to health problems. Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and mood disorders. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night for good health.
10. Hang Out With Friends
Spending time with family and friends is not only enjoyable, but it can help you live a longer life. Studies indicate that people who are lonely are at a greater risk developing heart disease. Although the hectic pace of life can sometimes make it difficult to carve out family time, make meeting up with friends and family a priority. It’s good for both your body and mind.
11. Embrace the spiritual
Being spiritual doesn’t have to mean being part of an organized religion. For some, it can simply mean connecting with a deeper, more meaningful part of life. Why is this important? Taking quiet time to meditate or pray can help you relax, focus and find out what’s really important in your life, leading to a happier, healthier you.
12. Look on the bright side – be Optimistic
Studies have shown that those with an optimistic outlook on life actually live longer and healthier lives so try to see the silver lining. Optimism is a trait that should become more common, judging by Winston Churchill's famous quote that "a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
Optimism has been proven to improve the immune system, prevent chronic disease, and help people cope with unfortunate news. Gratitude is associated with optimism and has been determined that grateful people are happier, receive more social support, are less stressed, and are less depressed. Recent research indicates that optimists and pessimists approach problems differently, and their ability to cope successfully with adversity differs as a result.
Everybody feels stress and knows it intimately, but very few of us think about what stress actually is and how to move away from it. Stress is a thought. That’s it. No more, no less. If that’s true, then we have complete control over stress, because it’s not something that happens to us but something that happens in us. The dictionary definition of stress is, “bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.” It is your thoughts out of balance. Careful though, stress is ranked as the number 1 killer because it will invade your mind and into your body to cause a physiological response which can lead to acute illnesses…
And when things get out of control, which they do, I simply make a gentle U turn. The U turn is like a GPS for your mind, body and soul. The GPS if you like, is your very essence, and stress will affect all these parts. If you take an incorrect turn whilst out driving, your GPS in the car does not start shouting at you, criticize you or call you stupid. The GPS will simply keep trying to put you on the correct path to get to where you need to go. In the most detached yet sweetest voice imaginable, the GPS reminds you to take the next possible U-turn. Each of us has to find out how to make our own U-turn. Here are seven wonderful ways I have discovered that work very well for me to reduce stress!
Breathe. When our breathing is short and rapid, our stress hormones kick into gear— this is something that is inherited from a long time ago when our descendants were original faced with danger: “A tiger is chasing me, I must flee!” Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now, and observe how differently you feel after.
Move. The best way to burn off the stress hormones without having to change your thinking is to move and sweat. Run, dance, jump, ride, swim, stretch, or skip—do something that is vigorous and lively. Yoga is also fabulous, as it combines movement and breathing and thus has a calming effect. We also feel good after completing exercise of some sort – perhaps at the time we feel completely exhausted, but as we recover we feel good about what we have achieved.
Bathe. For the lazy among us (including me), a salt bath is a secret weapon against stress. Add 2 cups of Epsom salt (which contains magnesium, the relaxation mineral) and perhaps either 6 drops of lavender, neroli or rose oil to a very hot bath. You would need to ensure that the oil you use is one that you like the smell of. For good advice/questions on what to chose go to this site: http://www.healingradiance.co.uk or perhaps consult a doctor. Then, add one stressed human and soak for 20 minutes. Guaranteed to induce relaxation.
Eating. Having a well balanced and nourishing diet will help reduce stress. Conversely, having ‘convenience’ food is just a slippery slope to feeding a desire which has no real benefit to your body whatsoever, other than short term emotional happiness. Rubbish eating will most definitely lead to weight issues and assist your stress levels to rise. Sure, have ‘convenience food’ every now and then, but stop any habitual use and start cooking and eating nourishing and healthy meals.
Sleep. A lack of sleep increases stress hormones in our body. A good night's sleep makes you able to tackle the day's stress more easily. When you are tired, you are less patient and more easily agitated which can increase stress. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Practicing good sleep routines along with stress-lowering tactics can help improve your quality of sleep, which in turn gives you energy in your waking hours.
Think Differently. Try practicing the art of noticing stress, noticing how your own thinking can make you stressed. A great saying is “If you did what you always did, then you will get what you always got”. What we think, how we think, what we expect, and what we tell ourselves often determines how we feel and how well we manage rising stress levels. You can learn to change your thought patterns that produce stress. Thoughts to watch out include those concerning how things should be and those that overgeneralize a set of circumstances (for example, "Yet again I have failed to meet a deadline. I am completely useless.”). So, try approaching things with a different perspective and remain upbeat – no matter what is happening.
Listen to calming music. Research has shown that listening to music can have a strong relaxing effect on our minds and bodies, especially slow, quiet and classical type music. This type of music can have a beneficial effect on our physiological functions, slowing the pulse and heart rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the levels of stress hormones. So, go on, light some candles, find a comfortable chair and get some beautiful soft music on. Allow yourself to drift with the music and eliminate negative stressful thoughts!
So, there we are. Seven ways to complete U turns on your own to move off the stress highway of our lives. We can all do without stress be it in our workplace or outside, but we must take steps to combat it and not allow it to take charge. We have the ability to take charge, so what are you waiting for…! A reminder is to also visit my blog on increasing happiness which includes many of the methods that I outline above.
In light of the recent US Presidential election, there is inevitably a mood of despair and disappointment across that nation which will linger for some time. But then there are disappointments across humanity every single moment of every single day. It’s one of the hardest things to deal with in life, and it can feel like it is around every corner. Everyone wants to hope but sometimes this makes us afraid to. Disappointment can strike without warning, or just smolder away in the background no matter how hard you try to ignore it. No one is immune. We all go through this emotion.
So what do you do when life doesn’t go the way you planned, or hoped? Disappointment will at some stage touch your life, but how you handle it can have a massive impact on your emotional well-being. What do you do when you end up somewhere you never thought you’d be? What do you do when your dreams are dashed and it feels like all hope is gone?
We can all learn to cope with disappointment better. So here are 5 top tips...
1. Beware of negative thinking!
One thing we know about the way the human brain works is that sometimes our thinking can be our worst enemy. It can warp our view of the world, make us feel that things are worse than they actually are and even trigger more painful or difficult emotions. Disappointment is a common trigger for some of the classic ‘unhelpful’ thinking styles. Watch out for things like ‘generalization’ (Everything I do always turns to disaster), predicting future gloom (I’m never going to get this right! or I’m never going to be happy) or making assumptions about what people think of you (Everyone must think I’m an idiot for failing). Beware of giving your emotions too much power – if you feel something, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is right. So, if you know your thinking is making you feel worse, try to ask some other people for their perspective. Don’t just assume that because you are thinking it, it has to be right!
2. Give yourself space to grieve
Disappointments are hard, and they invariably trigger a lot of emotion. Sometimes we can tie ourselves in knots trying desperately hard not to feel – but that doesn’t do any good! It is your emotions’ job to get your attention so that an answer can truly be sought. They are there for a purpose! Make sure you give yourself space to express them – whether that is a cup of coffee with a friend who will listen, time with a counsellor or therapist, a long hard run to pound out the frustration or even just a good old fashioned cry. You might find it helpful to place a limit on your expression of that emotion though – maybe setting aside an evening to allow yourself to react, but then planning the next day to focus on moving on and looking to the future. Don’t get caught up in wallowing and watch out for those negative thinking patterns.
The thing with disappointment is that often it is tinged with other emotions. You might feel silly for ever having hoped, guilty of feeling so gutted or just struggle to explain how hard it has hit you. Sometimes life can feel that you are surrounded by people who have better reasons to be feeling low – and that can stop you admitting how hard things have been for you. Don’t let your disappointment push you away from those who care about you. Remember humans have difficulty in functioning best in isolation. You are designed to need to interact with other people. Talk to someone.
4. Check your expectations
If you find that dealing with disappointment is a regular occurrence in your life, perhaps it is worth examining your expectations. Many of us are closet perfectionists, and push ourselves very hard. Expectations can be high – and alongside that often goes a black and white approach to life – if it doesn’t meet those expectations 100% then it has totally failed. Some people’s perfectionism is directed mainly at themselves, and they struggle with repeated disappointment about what they have not been able to achieve. Check out whether your expectations are realistic. And what about the world around you? Are you just one of those people who happens not to be very lucky? You know the kind – never wins at anything, good stuff just doesn’t tend to come your way? Studies have shown that actually ‘luck’ is a lot to do with how you see the world, and the things you remember and pay attention to. Our brains has a natural bias to remember negative things as well as positive ones, but don’t let it fool you into thinking nothing positive ever happens to you.
5. Change perspective
One thing that can really help with a disappointment is to take a moment to think about the bigger picture. Sometimes when we are in the midst of things, we can be consumed by that event, but with a bit of perspective we realise that actually there is more to life than them.
So, it is entirely up to you what to do when things get tough and you are facing disappointment. Elicit help of course, work hard to overcome your disappointment naturally, but keep going yourself is the key. Shifting perspective is sometimes more powerful than being smart, so a different perspective on the feeling that disappointment holds for you can bring unexpected results.
Some days I think I know who I am, mostly though I have no idea. What about you? Are you just drifting from one day to the next with no real clue of your ‘grand’ purpose for your life? I expect you have the same burning questions as I do, “why am I here?”, “what good am I doing?” and “how can I be happier in what I do?”. The good news is that we can answer many of these BIG questions if we only knew a little more about ourselves. Here are 8 simple techniques to help you understand yourself much better than when you started reading this short article!
Not knowing yourself can be a huge disadvantage in your life. You are potentially reducing your personal effectiveness and overall happiness by at least 50%. Just imagine if you could gain some, if not all of that missing potential. Just imagine being happier! That's a real winner in anyone’s book! Then, top that all off by having a stronger sense of purpose and WOW, that is momentous! To start, choose one of the techniques above and try it out tomorrow. Try a new technique each day. Keep and nurture those that work and discard those that don’t. Think about it, you can double your personal effectiveness and happiness overnight! So, what are you waiting for…