If we are honest and look back at the of 2018, one thing is clear - we can do better! Yes, really, we all can!
Many new year’s resolutions revolve around health, and for good reason. As many a sage and guru has told us our true wealth is in our health.
Having your physical and mental health is the foundation of achieving any other goal, personal and professional, and without out it you sort of have your arms tied behind your back. So, improving your health and dedicating time, energy and resources is the best investment you can make. There is no con to improving your health habits only a big pro: you have more energy, increased focus and more self-confidence. Here are the best and easiest ways to improve your health in 2019:
Exercise Yes, exercise! BUT first you really have to find a form of exercise you enjoy and can do for 45 minutes to an hour, at least 5 times a week. It has to be something you can keep up so that’s why you really have to enjoy it. Try yoga, dance, walking, running, lifting weights, etc. Find something you will do willingly so you do it consistently. Exercise relieves stress, sharpens your mind and improves your physical health. Exercising regularly is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.
Drink more water When in doubt, drink more water. Hydrating regularly improves everything from energy levels to constipation. You will be more comfortable if you are hydrated, it helps enhance physical performance and it also increases brain function. It can also help with weight loss. Drinking water is one of the easier, healthier things you can do to make to your daily routine better - in fact you can start at this very moment, (cheers)!
Fresh Air Fresh air is one of the easiest and healthiest habits to incorporate into your routine, whether you spend a day off work outdoors or just walking along the beach or maybe even taking a walk for 20 minutes when you have a break at work (hopefully in a nearby park if you can). Being outdoors gives you more healthy energy, reduces stress and depression, improves sleep and your overall health. Make time to be outside, to clear your mind and improve your mental and physical health. Try taking your shoes and socks off and feel the grass or sand beneath your feet and take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth with a slight exhaling sigh, slowly counting to 4. Repeat two or three times feeling the ground with your feet. Grounding yourself is a great, quick stress reliever.
Mindfulness or Meditation Spending time at the beginning or at the end of each day clearing your mind helps reduces stress, controls anxiety, enhances self-awareness, improves sleep and decreases blood pressure. Spend as little as 10 minutes every morning or evening, or if you have the time do both morning and evening focusing on one thing, such as your breath. Feel your breath enter in your nostrils and exhale slowly through your mouth. Focus your thoughts, on that breathing and accept the noise around you. You can even recite a few chosen words a mantra “life is good.” “thank you for my life.” Religious, non-religious, it’s up to you but don’t make it too long, a couple of words or just listen to your breath.
Life People and Sex We are a tribal race and need most of the time human interaction, contact with others so cultivate friends and family or be involved in groups or events or charities. Take up ballroom dancing or suchlike where you can actually participate as well as meet and talk to new people. Be in the moment, in life. Having loving caring sex regularly is downright healthy, and studies show it is good for your mental and physical health. Sex is also good form of physical exercise but don’t get the wrong idea you still have to physically exercise (you know the not so nice type working out, it’s not a replacement just an add on) as well as good for your romantic relationship. Having sex regularly lowers blood pressure, releases stress and improves sleep. It also improves your mood by releasing endorphins and increases libido then again so does a good workout at the gym and a good old chin wag with a friend it’s all life -so life- the moment as Bob Dylan wrote and sang “he not busy being born is busy a-dying.“
Doctors It’s easy to not bother going to the doctor: you're healthy, you feel fine and doctors are busy, and you have to make an appointment and pay money. But particularly as we age the best preventive healthcare is active engagement in your own health, and a part of that is visiting Doctors. And Dr Google is not the way for your recommended check-ups. You will in fact end up with far more stress, anxiety and cost with possibly more conditions or injuries that are allowed to grow and fester, so visit your regular GP to make sure you are in good shape, and stay that way for as long as you possibly can.
Food and Diet (Drum Roll and applause)
Did you perhaps wonder when I was going to get to this part? Well I left the best to last! Diet is the fundamental part of lifestyle and consequently any lifestyle changes have to incorporate diet and changes perhaps to the food we eat on a daily basis. You cannot, at this stage in human history, change your genetic disposition other than in a few amazing health issues, as of now you are sort of what you are born with. So, going on that hypotheses if you can’t change your genes, which are about 20% of what we are, give or take, then what makes up the rest, the 80%? Lifestyle, and you can change your lifestyle.
So, let’s be really simple here in our explanation, your diet should be 75% plant based, low in sugar and salt, high in fibre with good levels of unrefined carbohydrates. Nuts, seeds, wholegrains lean protein. You do not need to be a Vegan or a Vegetarian, it’s up to you, however, for optimal health, limit your red meat consumption. Use olive oil, eat whole fruit not juices and a rainbow selection of vegetables. By that I mean as many coloured veggies as possible. Limit dairy consumption, but still enjoy some cheese, just don’t overdo it. A glass of wine is fine but not all the time. On average one glass for women and 2 for men per day. Special occasions, you could increase that a little, but build in at least 3 AFD’s (alcohol free days) per week.
So, in general as for a diet type, in my humble opinion a Mediterranean diet is supreme but just remember the Mediterranean region is a large place so olives, olive oil, goats milk and sheep’s milk cheese, bouillabaisse, pasta, dolmade’s, hummus, tomatoes, pitta breads and falafel are all part of the Mediterranean true culture, so enjoy!
Dr Phil Sheldon
Need some inspiration? Check out our healthy recipes.