Today’s contributor post is brought to by Sarah Cummings from The Sleep Advisor
I’m sure you’ve seen those interviews with 100-year-olds pop up every now and again.
Asked what the secret of their longevity is, the wrinkly legends will inevitably swear by some weird and wonderful thing they’ve done every day of their life. Be it olive oil massages, smoking cigars or eating a tablespoon of raw honey.
Pretty much the only thing we learn from revelations is something we already knew—that everybody is different. That there’s no foolproof recipe to becoming a centenarian. What works for one individual might not work for another.
That said there are some constants that are guaranteed to improve your health and give you better odds of having a happy and long life. Below are 8 lifehacks widely agreed to only be good for you.
1. Laugh More
Laughter really is one of the best medicines. When we share a chuckle with friends a flurry of chemical responses are unleashed from our brain that is as potent as any known antidepressant. Yay!
Laughing more has been shown to reduce stress and give the body’s immune system a boost. A good giggle has even been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the blood vessels around the heart.
2. Sleep More
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” We’ve all heard this refrain as someone heads out into the night at some ungodly hour. Unfortunately for them, the statistics tell us that the more sleep they skip out on now the quicker their demise will come – and the more unhappy and unhealthy their life will be.
Exercise and good diet might be the two pillars of good health but sleep is the foundation on which they are built. Sleep deprivation has been linked to endless lists of increased health risks. Anything from raised levels of stress, anxiety and depression to increased odds of cardiovascular disease, strokes, diabetes and obesity.
3. Get Outside More
Now we longer have to be afraid of sabre tooth tigers and charging woolly mammoths, it seems spending more time in the outdoors is good for our health. Studies have shown that escaping the office and getting off the couch for a regular walk in the woods can improve mental health, lower your blood pressure and even reduce the risk of cancer.
Not only that, spending more time outside in daylight does amazing things for regulating our circadian rhythms and therefore helping us sleep. Win-win!
4. Be More Grateful
Taking a just a few minutes at the end of each day to note down the two or three things you’re grateful for has been found to have a profound impact on an individual’s positivity and mental health. The process is known as keeping a gratitude journal works by retraining the mind to look at the glass as a little bit more full and not quite so empty.
5. Eat Like The Japanese
Now, I don’t mean you have to eat everything with chopsticks. What am I getting at is a concept many Japanese live by called ‘Hara Hachi Bu’, which roughly means eat until you are 80% full.
Sounds simple right. Eat until you are satisfied but not full to bursting. It’s basically a form of portion control. Considering that the Japanese have the greatest proportion of centenarians per capita in the world (not to be confused with Roman Centurions), they must be doing something right.
6. Pay Attention To Your Gut
While we may not like talking about our bowel movements in public, we should definitely pay attention to them in private. They have a lot to say about your overall health.
Having unhealthy gut flora can be the root cause of many health issues, including mental health. Yep, that’s right, what’s happening in your digestive system can have a very real impact on your emotional stability. Maybe it’s time to start driving past that fast food restaurant instead of driving through!
Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Experiment, discover which foods work for you and which don’t.
7. Get Sweaty Every Day
Exercise at least once a day. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you do it for long enough to get out of breath and a little bit sweaty. Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight, improves muscle strength, keeps your cardiovascular system strong and enhances your immune system. And they are just a few notable mentions from an almost endless list of other benefits.
When you exercise your body releases two very useful chemicals dopamine and serotonin. Known respectively as ‘your body’s natural Prozac’ and the ‘happy hormone’. These two powerful neurotransmitters improve your mood and protect you against mental health disorders. Thanks, exercise!
8. Never Retire
Whilst you may already be longing for the day when you can hang up your work clothes once and for all and stay in bed until noon, studies have shown that retiring from work cold turkey can actually mean bad things for your health.
Working longer has been shown to be associated with longer life, a decrease in the probability of depression and an overall decrease in health issues. That’s not to say you should carry on working quite as hard but just maybe don’t be so quick to pounce on that offer of early retirement.
Well, there you have it—8 surprisingly simple life hacks you can make that will have a profound impact on your physical and mental health. Here’s wishing you a long, healthy and above all, happy life!