If you’re like thousands of Utahns, you made a resolution this New Year. And undoubtedly many of those resolutions embraced improving health and wellness.
But few people are successful in accomplishing this goal of improved wellness. Many get discouraged as they watch healthy-looking people with ripped arms, toned legs and a tight mid-sections float through their workout routine. You admire these stalwart individuals who have made wellness a habit and more importantly a lifestyle. Yet, this lifestyle may be within your reach by following the seven steps of highly healthy and happy people.
Habit 1: Manage stress and negative emotions. You may wonder why this is the top of the list. However, a growing body of scientific research suggests that managing stress and negative emotions may have a greater impact on your health than anything else that you do. Excess stress and negative emotions is strongly associated with heart disease, depression, viral infections and even cancer. No one can avoid stress completely, and some stress is actually a good thing, but healthy and happy people use practices that mitigate the negative effects of stress.
Habit 2: Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. You are what you eat is more literal than you think. Supply your body with the essential nutrients it needs to stay healthy by eating healthy fats—increasing omega-3 rich foods, high-quality protein from fish and very lean meats, ample amounts of a fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, and choose whole grains over refined, white products. Lastly, eat mindfully by watching portion sizes.
Habit 3: Participate in regular physical activity. Most important here is to find several activities you enjoy. You might as well have fun while you are “exercising.” A variety of activities helps avoid the boredom that can occur in following a stringent and repetitive routine. Include activities that elevate your heart rate and strengthen your bones, joints and muscles. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.
Habit 4: Go to bed early and arise early. The old adage that says “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is supported by science. Your body is involved in vital processes while you sleep, including restorative tasks, increased immune system activity and elevated hormone activity. Most adults need six to eight hours of sleep on a regular schedule. Chronic sleep deprivation contributes to obesity, decreases immune system performance, mood disturbances, diminished cognitive performance, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and even premature death.
Habit 5: Include plenty of humor and laughter in your life. Laughter can be the best medicine and helps with that all important first habit of managing stress and negative emotions. By increasing oxygen flow to tissues, lowering blood pressure, reducing the production of stress hormones and modulating the immune system laughter elevates your overall wellbeing and guards against a host of diseases.
Habit 6: Challenge your brain daily. Use it or lose it is true with your brain function. Keep mentally sharp and help prevent cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia by participating in a mentally stimulating activity every day. Do crossword puzzles, use your non-dominant hand for regular activities like brushing your teeth, play Sudoku, read or learn a foreign language.
Habit 7: Surround yourself with other health-minded and happy people. Your social network can influence your lifestyle, so make sure it includes many healthy and happy people. Other happy and healthy people can inspire, motivate and encourage you to remain healthy and happy yourself.
Its never to late to reset your habits to improve your health and the earlier you instill these habits in your children the better for their health.