The funny thing about life is that we never know how much time we have left. However, this shouldn’t keep us from doing all that we can to have longer and happier years ahead. This is especially true if there are people whom we love and depend on us that we know we cannot leave just yet. If this is true for you, the best thing you can do is to invest in your personal health and well-being – physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
A well-rounded approach is the best way to ensure that you have done your part in stretching out the years you have left. More importantly, you will be making positive changes that will increase the quality of those years. Whether you are on the brink of a health breakdown due to a lifetime of bad habits or you simply want to take better control of your life before your bad habits weigh you down, it’s never too late to start now. Here are ten health tips that can help with that.
You are What You Consume
- Rethink your diet. Any list that is geared towards improving your health will definitely include something about how you eat – and with good reason. Research shows that limited calorie diets have strong links to extended life spans, which is why changing the way you eat for the better will have a very large impact on how long you will live. As a rule of thumb, a plant-based diet is always the way to go. Your body will be able to better absorb and use the nutrients you get without the extra fat that is responsible for coronary heart disease, among other things. If you cannot go completely plant based, the least you can do is to cut out red meat from your diet – as well as other fatty food products like dairy.
- Up your water intake. Most people know that the required daily intake of water is around 6-8 glasses. However, many people find this extremely hard to do. Some are even surprised to discover that they’re barely drinking half of that! Water is essential to a longer and happier life. It keeps us hydrated, promotes better digestion, and delivers oxygen to the brain.
- Stay away from sweets. If you love candy and all that sugary stuff, beware! Having a diet that is high in sugar will increase your LDL cholesterol levels and lower HDL cholesterol (the heart friendly stuff), whileincreasing your risk for the fatal kind of cardiovascular disease by up to 300%. According to the American Heart Association, women’s daily sugar intake should not be more than 25 grams (around 6 teaspoons) and 36 grams (around 9 teaspoons) for men. In addition, sugary drinks and foods can bring about conditions such as tonsillitis and tooth decay. These mean the presence of bacteria in the body, which can cause more problems down the line.
- Go easy on the pain medication. Our society is slowly turning into a pill-popping one, which is quite unfortunate. Your dependence on medication – even for something as simple as a headache – will result in side effects over time. Furthermore, certain pain killers (even over the counter ones!) have been known to increase your risk of stroke and heart attack by about 10% as per the US FDA, and up to 50% for the prescription variety.
Breaking Bad Habits
- Get the right amount of sleep. If you have ever tried going without sleep for 24 hours, you probably have an idea of how worse you’ve performed in that state compared to getting 7-8 hours of sleep. Lack of sleep will cause you to underperform on your daily tasks and increase your risk of an early death by 12%. However, going over the recommended number of hours will also render the same effect. As it turns out, people who sleep nine or more hours end up increasing their risk of an early death by as much as 30%. Now that you know how bad oversleeping can also be, your focus should be to get the recommended amount of sleep – and to not compensate for lack of sleep by taking in additional hours of snooze to make up for it.
- Quit the cigarette habit. There are so many famous people who died of lung cancer, which is most often the result of smoking – Peter Jennings, Alekos Alexandrakis, Malcolm Young, to name a few. Smoking is a really bad habit that’s hard to break, but once you do your body will be so much better for it. The effects of smoking will not just shorten your lifespan, but it will also make your present days a lot harder. Not only will you smell bad, but you will be out of breath more often than people who don’t smoke – and therefore feel tired faster.
Work That Body!
- Keep moving! Exercise is definitely on the agenda if you intend to live a longer and happier life. The great thing about this is it won’t require you to dedicate hours and hours of your time every week just to fulfill the minimum required amount of movement. Even something that’s a mere 15-20 minutes long every day can already do a lot. There’s also no need to hit the gym to get it done! Being physically active can be a quick run around the block, biking, playing a short pickup game of basketball, or a few laps around the pool. These short movement activities are very doable and fun. You’ll be more motivated if you keep things interesting, and the results will show up in your body as well as your mindset.
- Get some sunshine! Finding time to go outside is good for you as you absorb vitamin D from the sun. It is an instant mood lifter and can do a lot to make you feel good! If you’re feeling stressed at work, take five minutes to get out of your office and take a quick stroll around the block – especially if it is a sunny day. More often than not, you will find yourself feeling a lot better once you return to your desk and resume your work.
Connect With Others and Have a Purpose
- Interact with other people. They say that no man is an island, and even an introvert will greatly benefit from being around other people from time to time. Living a happy and healthy life often necessitates socializing, which can be as simple as calling up your best friend or visiting your favorite aunt. It can even be as spontaneous as greeting the person who’s ringing up your groceries. The interaction must be meaningful, and many times it will require you to get up and do it even if you don’t feel like it. However, it will more often than not make you feel good afterwards.
- Make plans. Is there a dream of yours that you wish to fulfill? If yes, make plans to get it done! If you don’t have a specific big dream, it’s time to start thinking of one. Making plans to achieve something puts you on a mission – which will require a sense of purpose, and when one has purpose then one is more motivated to live long enough to get it done. In relation to living longer and happier, studies show that people who have plans of accomplishing set goals tend to outlive those who don’t have them – so plan away!
Building Healthy Habits for a Lifetime
These are just the tip of the iceberg, for there’s always more to do in order to optimize your health and happiness. However, by doing these 10 tips alone you are already going to make really big changes to your life – so take them to heart and apply them ASAP!
Living a long and happy life will always be tied to health – and it is each and every person’s responsibility to do all that he can to stay as healthy as possible. A big life change doesn’t happen overnight, which is a good thing! It means you can take small but consistent steps each day until you find yourself in the middle of a newer – and healthier – normal. It takes 21 days to build a habit, so if you can stick to your guns and do at least one of the things in this list for at least 21 days your body will naturally look for it once it’s absent.
In addition, having accountability partners to help you achieve your goal of living a longer and happier life can help you improve faster and achieve better and lasting results. Tell your friends and family members that this is what you intend to do and that you are counting on their support and encouragement for you to stay the course. More often than not, they will be glad to help you – whether it is going with you to the gym, reminding you to order the heart-healthy option at the restaurant, or refilling your water bottle for you once it’s been emptied.