Uppdaterat: 28 maj 2020
Now more than ever we need to be looking after our health, making the best choices as possible based on what the latest research says and what we know ourselves is good for us.
In this post I will not go into too much detail or refer to studies and proofs. I will go much deeper into each area in future posts. I thought it is important just now to list on a high level what you can do right now to start living a healthier life, to strengthen your own immune system, have more energy, feel better and stronger.
The 7 things (in no particular order) you can do are: 1. SLEEP WELL (7-8 hours) There are maybe a few exceptional individuals that can get by on less sleep but sleep researchers say that most of us require 7-8 hours of sleep each night - longer for children. This is the time we recharge and reset for the next day. This is when we replenish with important hormones such as melatonin. Good sleep is important both physically and mentally. Research shows that hours of sleep before midnight is especially important. Most of us know how it feels when we have a few nights of bad sleep. We don't function so well, we are irritated, often eat more, have cravings, less energy, and so forth. We are also more susceptible to getting sick as our immune system is weakened.
2. EAT QUALITY FOOD Food is medicine. Start talking about what is the best diet and it soon gets into quite a heated discussion. I think however everyone can agree that eating quality food is a good idea - but what does that mean? For me it means food that does not have chemicals such as insecticides sprayed on it or conserving additives in them. As little added sugar and as little processing as possible. Meat and fish (if you are a meat eater) that have access to natural environments that are not factory farmed and eat natural foods such as grass and plankton and are not pumped with large amounts antibiotics. Organic = natural. Yes often this food costs a little more but the health gains from eating well far outweigh any extra costs. Of course you do what you can with the budget you have but buying from local markets or growing your own food can be an good option.
3. MOVE EVERY DAY We are animals and we are made to move. Call it exercise if you will but the benefits of regular movement are enormous both to your physical and mental health. We are all different in what possibilities we have for movement but even 5 minutes per day makes a difference and 30 minutes a day is fantastic if you can. The key is to find some form of exercise that you enjoy or at least know there is a good chance you can stick to. Walking, running, biking, the gym, yoga, home workouts, whatever! Make a start even if it is a couple of minutes then build on that, get into a good routine, praise yourself for keeping at it. If you miss a day or two don't be hard on yourself just get back at it again.
4. REDUCE STRESS When you stress you activate your "Fight or Flight" response and activate stress hormones.
This happens so that your body's resources can concentrate on some perceived threat. But it also means that resources are moved from other important functions such as your immune system. That is why long term stress leads to an increased chance of a number of illnesses.
There are many ways to reduce stress but here are some tips. - Conscious Breathing: Just a few slow breaths through the nose can have an immediate positive effect on your stress levels.
Try this 3-3-3 method. Breathe in for 3 seconds through your nose (down to your belly), breathe out for 3 seconds then hold calmly for 3 seconds at the end of the out breath. Do this for a minute or 2 and feel the difference.
- Meditation: To be able to quieten the mind, stop the flow of thoughts - even for a short time can be very helpful to reduce stress. There are many Apps such as Insight Timer that have guided meditation for beginners try it out. More and more people are meditating including top sports people and professionals in all walks of life.
- Do things you enjoy, have fun, laugh: Maybe goes without saying but this is what life is about. Do stuff that makes you happy, watch a comedy or funny clips on Youtube. Laughter is the best medicine has a lot of truth to it. - Be Grateful: People that life in gratitude are healthier. Maybe you can list 2 or 3 things you are grateful for each night? Write them down? Discuss it over dinner with the family? Being grateful leads to a better state of mind and less stress.
- Social Contact: We are social creatures and it is important for our well being to have contact with others. Studies have shown that people with less contact die earlier on average. Physical contact also produces "feel good" hormones such as oxytocin. If you do not have a social network think of ways you can build this. Sports, clubs, or hobby groups. Getting a pet can be an alternative.
5. GET OUTSIDE
We are, like all animals, meant to be outside. Our body produces Vitamin D from the sun, the air is healthier, we feel go
od in nature and on our near water. Studies have proven physical and mental benefits from being in nature and near water. We generally are moving when we are outside so there is a double benefit here. 20-30 minutes exposure in the middle of the day (over as much skin as possible) is enough in the spring and summer. In winter months Vitamin D supplementation can be beneficial.
6. MINIMISE OUR HABITS I do not believe in nagging people. We know what habits are not good for us. Smoking, drinking too much, TV/Mobile/Social Media time, Junk food and drinks, as examples. These all have negative effects on our health. We know that. Of course it is hard to stop. That is what an addiction is. Yes social media is an addiction too. All respect to anyone who has cut out a bad habit or addiction completely but for many maybe it is more realistic to have a plan to reduce it. Most things are not bad in small or reasonable amounts so maybe come up with a plan of how you can cut back little by little? What has worked for me is to replace an unhealthy habit or food with a good one. I love nuts and dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more) so I eat those as a snack instead of sweets. Smoothies instead of alcohol. Red wine in reasonable amounts is more healthy than other alcohols. Non or low alcoholic beer or cider. These are just some ideas.
7. CREATE A POSITIVE MORNING ROUTINE:
I believe it is so important to start the day on the right note. That it is worth going up 30 minutes earlier (and go to bed 30 minutes earlier) so you have time to do some of the things mentioned above. Maybe meditate, yoga or other exercise, make a healthy breakfast, write a plan for the day or what you are grateful for, go for a walk. Often we think that we don't have time but almost everyone has at least 30 minutes. If not first thing in the morning maybe some other time of the day. See it as an investment in your health. Your time. Sacred Time. There are my tips for now to a healthier and happier life. Choose a few things and make a start. See what works or doesn't work for you. In the end you are the expert on what is best for your health and don't give that power away. A lot of the stuff here we know in our hearts. A lot is common sense. There is also a lot of science behind it. In future posts I will go in more depth in each area and some new areas as well including a look at the research and science behind a lot of it. Be well and be at peace. David