Life keeps us busy. So much so that if we don’t take the time to stop and look around, we might just miss it. If you’re reading this, it’s because you’re consciously taking time for yourself. Hats off to you. Here are a few simple habits you can start implementing today.
While we may hear many different pieces of advice, a few are really important to follow, and can make all the difference, namely sleep and moving around. The body needs a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of sleep to optimally function. Those that live to be 100 will tell you that sleep is a major priority. What’s more, according to a recent statistic, as a woman, if you’re getting enough sleep, you’re helping to ward off depression. If you’re a man, you’re helping to ward off anxiety. And we could all use less of that. Learning to cultivate healthy action steps can involve turning off the screen an hour before bedtime, and teaching your body to wind down. Television shows purposefully use bright colors and fast images to keep us glued. This ends up creating unnecessary stimulation for the brain. Instead, having a talk with our spouse or doing some light reading helps stimulate the natural cycle of endorphins in our brains and prevents us from fighting off our natural nocturnal cycle.
We all say to ourselves we should exercise more. We know about it. But the difference between making it real versus living with ”shoulds” is cultivating it in our daily habits. If you’re not into going to the gym, no problem. Now that the nice weather is approaching, this is the ideal time to go for a walk. Studies have shown that going from nothing to 30 minutes of walking daily helps to create a better mood, mental sharpness, and overall muscle and bone health. And if going outside isn’t your thing, walking in the mall could be another possibility. Though your wallet might not thank you, your body certainly will. Resistance training is also beneficial, and can be done through yoga, home based body weight exercises, or slowly lifting canned foods.
While much can be said about mental health, one habit that 100 year olds seem to share is the ability to let things bounce off of them. Cultivating the capacity to avoid dwelling and internalizing negative situations is a key skill to reducing stress. Tai Chi, exercise, meditation, or deep conscious breathing can help to let the tension pass rather than getting consumed by revenge fantasies in our head.
In closing, we can all do our part in making our health better. Simple habits can make all the difference between a better overall health. Looking back at yourself, what’s realistic for you to do in your own life?
Blog post by Ali-John Chaudhary, Ps Ed, RP, MA