Happy World Health Day! The World Health Organization has designated April 7th as World Health Day. With preventable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of dementia and cancer on the rise, this is a great opportunity to offer my tips for living a Happy Well Lifestyle.
Just knowing that so many diseases are preventable is a huge motivator for me to continue striving to live a healthy, happy, active life.
Sure, I eat the occasional cookie, (though being gluten-free makes it easier not to eat sweets and snacks at parties, as I can never be entirely sure what is in something), and my daily dose of dark chocolate (72% or higher.) And I definitely don’t always get in my daily yoga or meditations as I would like to. But I also don’t beat myself up if I miss a day or two. I know tomorrow’s another day to start up again with the best of intentions. For sure I get in my daily laughs though, life is too short not to laugh! 🙂
So what are some of my tricks for living a Happy Well Lifestyle?
Keep Added Sugar to a Minimum
Diets high in added sugar have been directly linked to diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer and dementia. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease has recently been called “Type III Diabetes”, as there is an associated link between high sugar consumption and some types of dementia. A good rule of thumb is no more than 25 grams of added sugar a day, that’s about 6 teaspoons.
Also, while many people think agave syrup is a good “natural” alternative to sugar, it’s really not. Agave syrup is highly processed with toxic chemicals, and according to Dr. Weil, studies show it’s as hard or harder on the liver and pancreas as high fructose corn syrup. Best to ditch the agave and if you must use a sweetener stick to brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup.
Take note: Sodas and other sweetened drinks, even fruit juice, are one of the worst things you can drink. Since your body doesn’t have to digest anything it’s basically like mainlining sugar directly into the blood stream.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, artificial sweeteners in diet sodas are no better, as recent studies show just how they may be messing with your brain and gut. Drink water with a squeeze of lime or lemon, or herbal tea instead.
Practice Daily Meditation or Yoga
A daily meditation or yoga practice (a form of meditation) can greatly reduce your stress levels, lower blood pressure, and rejuvenate and repair your body as much as sleep. We aim to make a 20-minute meditation part of our routine morning and evening, and feel so light and refreshed after meditation, we don’t want to miss it!
I also try to get in a yoga practice a few times a week. Living on my sailboat, I do yoga on my foredeck, which can sometimes make every pose a balancing pose. Stretching your muscles and moving your joints each day helps to keep your body strong and healthy. Movement creates synovial fluid which lubricates your joints and can help to ward off arthritis too. The old adage “move it or lose it” is so true as we age!
If you’ve never meditated before try one of these easy guided meditations to help you get started. Or for a gentle yoga practice that anyone can do at home, check out this Chair Yoga video by my friend Amanda, or some of Tara Stiles yoga videos.
Eat a Plant-Based Rainbow of Foods
Include lots of greens too. The phytonutrients in produce ward off a host of illnesses and boost your immune system. They can even help create a natural sun-screen from the inside out. Think about this: wonder why plants don’t ever get sunburned? Their phytonutrients help protect them from sun, and by eating a variety of those phytonutrients every day, you can help give your own skin extra sun protection from the inside out.
We put greens like spinach, kale, and arugula in our morning Chocolate-Banana Protein Smoothie with berries for breakfast. I usually eat a big salad with lots of different greens, carrots, celery, jicama, and avocado, topped with tuna, shrimp or other protein for lunch. Then maybe my favorite Salmon and Greens for dinner (this is also fantastic with Mahi Mahi ~ be sure check your sources of fish on the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Card, to ensure you’re eating sustainably.) We are lucky to be able to buy direct from the fishermen in Mexico.
Laugh Every Day
As the saying goes, “Laughter is the Best Medicine”, and it’s true! All those happy chemicals produced when you laugh really do make you healthy! One way we get in our daily laughter is enjoying our kitties! We have two young cats who keep us in stitches every day with their crazy kitten-like antics: chasing each other, or their tails, or bugs—they are so much fun to be around. If you don’t have pets to make you laugh, watch a funny movie, or get together with friends and have some good belly laughs! A rousing game of Cards Against Humanity should do the trick.
Be Active Outdoors Every Day
This could be as simple as a walk to the bus stop or around the block, a hike with friends, a bike ride, a kayak paddle, or anything that gets you outside breathing fresh air. Living our on sailboat full-time means we are outside a lot. We also love to kayak and swim when ever we can. And every trip ashore usually includes a hike somewhere, even if it’s just to the grocery store to load our backpacks with produce.
Get Enough Sleep Each Night
Sleep is underrated, and most people don’t get enough. Turns out that your body does most of its rejuvenation and repair when you are asleep! Who knew? Your brain even gets a major “cleaning” with spinal fluid to wash away the dead cells and leave you feeling more alert when you wake up.
How much sleep do you need? You should be able to wake up with out an alarm clock if you are well rested. Most adults need between 7-9 hours per night. I strive for eight, and definitely notice a difference in my alertness and functionality if I don’t get at least 7.
For the best sleep, shut off all electronics, computers, phones, and TV screens an hour before you head to bed. Research shows that the blue-light they emit messes with your sleep patterns. If you have a hard time falling asleep, cut out all caffeine after noon, eat a kiwi or two before bed (they are full of a phytonutrients that help you sleep!) or rub the bottoms of your feet with lavender oil before bed.
More Great Tips from Cotopaxi at right, on living a Happy Well Lifestyle.
Cotopaxi creates innovative outdoor products and experiences that fund sustainable poverty alleviation, move people to do good, and inspire adventure. They are one company who’s walking their talk and making a difference in the world. They are able to do the most good through their backpacks.
Please leave a comment with your favorite tips for living a happy well lifestyle.