Times are a little bit hard right now. The economy is down, and people have a lot of uncertainty in their lives. There’s a lot to worry about, but your health doesn’t have to be one of those things. When things are tough because of circumstances out of your control, it’s the perfect time to make improvements in an area of your life where you do have control.
Changing your life sounds like a monumental task, but it doesn’t have to be. You can make small changes—learn new, positive habits—that can add up to a big difference in your health, your outlook, and your overall enjoyment of life.
Today, I’d like to share six easy habits you can learn that will make you feel better. You’ll have more energy, you’ll feel more positive, and even if things are rough, you’ll know you can deal with it because you’ll be feeling at your best.
Your Mother Was Right—You Are What You Eat
It’s impossible to talk about good health without acknowledge the important role that food plays. Bad food choices give your body poor tools to work with. Good food choices give it good tools and that means every system from your heart to your liver to your brain will function better.
An easy way to know you’re giving your body good quality food is to eat according to the Mediterranean diet. This is a healthy diet, but even more important, it’s tasty. The Mediterranean diet makes lean protein and vegetables its focus. Fish and chicken are great choices and then vegetables of any color or type. The approach also uses olive oil in cooking and in dressing and lots of herbs and spices. Fruits, seeds, nuts, and a moderate amount of cheese or yogurt all fit right in.
In studies, this diet has proven to enhance health. In a review of studies researchers found that the Mediterranean approach to eating improves cholesterol and triglyceride levels, it helps your arteries to be more flexible, and it reduces insulin resistance. It also lowers the risk of some cancers and will help you to live longer.
So remember, lean protein, vegetables, olive oil and herbs for your meals. Snack on fruits, nuts, and cheese… and that’s all it takes to build a healthy diet.
Easy Ways to Get Moving
Just like the food you eat is important, so is how much you move. Your body was built to be active, and when you get moving good things happen.
One of the surest ways you can extend your lifespan and be certain you’re in good health to enjoy those extra years is to become more active. You don’t have to organize a grueling exercise regimen. Just take part in activities that get you moving. Go for a brisk walk after dinner, go shoot some hoops or play tennis with your partner, or go for a swim. These things are fun and they’ll build your health at the same time.
In a large-scale study of more than 2300 healthy men, researcher found that men who were physically active were 30% more likely to live to the age of 90. Not only that, but they were more likely to have good physical and mental function at that age.
The Benefits of Getting Your Zs
Diet and exercise get the most attention when it comes to health, but getting a good night’s sleep is just as important.
Poor sleep can derail the progress you make in other areas of your life. It can lead to weight gain, stress, and chronic disease. It can also lower your productivity and make you feel unhappy.
Sleep studies show that poor sleeping habits increase your risk of obesity, disrupt hormone production, and increase your risk of colon cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Your body needs its rest to be at its best.
I’ve found that best way to get a better night’s sleep is to establish a going-to-bed routine and then to stick to it. Going through the same steps each night before getting into bed sends a signal to your mind and body that it’s time to sleep. If you have persistent difficulty sleeping, then a visit to your doctor is a good idea. He’ll be able to help you identify the problem and the best solution for you.
You’ve Got To Take Time To Relax and Enjoy Your Life
Stress is a big deal in our society. I see more patients who are stressed out than not. Many of them are so used to being in a state of stress all the time that they don’t even realize they’re stressed anymore.
But stress takes a serious toll.
For one thing, stress hurts your heart. According to a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, chronic stress raises your blood pressure, it can interfere with the rhythm of your heart, and it makes your heart work harder. All this can lead to heart disease.
A healthy diet, regular exercise, and a good night’s sleep will all help you to better manage your stress. An enjoyable hobby, a willingness to talk to friends and family about what’s bothering you, and scheduling time to relax and enjoy the quiet are also important ways to manage stress.
Two Final Bits of Advice
When it comes to living well, I’ve seen over and over in my patients that those who take the time to be grateful for the good things in their life are the happiest and have the best mental health. On the physical side of things, taking a multi-vitamin is a great habit to get into. People who regularly take a multi-vitamin, especially men, generally have an easier time maintaining a healthy body weight, and that can make a huge difference in your quality of life.
Photo Credit: Andy Newson