Today I want you to get real. How to live a healthy lifestyle should be the key question for everyone reading this article today. Yet health is often an area of a person’s life where they tend to cut corners, and to a large degree ignore it totally. It’s a busy life for most of us. And keeping ourselves healthy is all too rarely near the top of our list of ‘things to do’. Convenience often wins – we are all so busy that convenience is at a premium.
Despite all the technological advances we benefit from, society is plagued by ill health. What we do with regards to our lifestyle helps define who we are, how well we live – even how long we live.
I had to laugh the other day when somebody said to me ‘I don’t see the purpose of this blog’, it’s not where you make your money. I will never see my work solely in terms of financial benefits it can bring me.
The principles that this blog supports are to ensure that people are not only free from ill-health but actually in good physical and mental health. There surely can be nothing more important than the promotion of the well-being of the individual. I help my readers as much as I can by writing articles, sharing personal development information, healthy lifestyle strategies and tips, intended to help you live the life you really want.
My purpose is to use my knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm to empower and inspire others to discover their passions and fulfil their dreams.
Health seems like a concept that too often escapes people. If you suffer too frequently from bad health, and you have only just realized the need to shift to a healthier lifestyle, or you’ve always wanted to but never have, odds are that you’re pretty clueless about how to go about it. Whatever your healthy lifestyle goals are, my blog is always a good place to get started on your quest for health and fitness.
Many health problems can be prevented or at least their occurrence postponed by having a healthy lifestyle. Many health issues can be addressed with exercise, nutrition, stress management and other healthy lifestyle practices. Many of the behaviours that contribute to health conditions, whether good health or ill health, are clearly related to whether you follow a healthy lifestyle, or whether you don’t.
Every year around 200 million working days are lost in Great Britain as a result of people being too ill to go to work. The best way of reducing that number is by trying to prevent them getting ill in the first place. Stress is the most common cause of ill health and work absenteeism in our society, probably underlying as many as 70% of all visits to family doctors. It is also the one problem that every doctor shares with every patient.
To master stress, you must change. You have to figure out what you are doing that is contributing to your problem and change it. Often changes in your lifestyle choices will make a massive difference.
There are many ways to relieve stress, from going for a walk to eating right. What follows is a list of 10 practical and down-to-earth strategies which I have found helpful over the years for both myself and my clients.
1. Cut out Caffeine
Caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate and cola) is a drug, a strong stimulant that actually generates a stress reaction in the body. If you cut out caffeine for three weeks you will notice many benefits, such as feeling more relaxed, less jittery or nervous, sleep better, have more energy and fewer muscle aches.
Stress is the state of increased arousal necessary for a human to defend themselves at a time of danger. The result is that our bodies go into a state of high energy but there is usually no place for that energy to go; therefore, our bodies can stay in a state of arousal for hours at a time. This isn’t good. Exercise is the most sensible way to dispel this excess energy. It is so much better for you to exercise such as taking a brisk walk, a run, a bike ride or a game of squash. Regular exercise can drain off on going stress and keep things under control. I recommend physical activity every day or at the very least to exercise three times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes each time.
Another way to reduce stress in the body is by using relaxation techniques. We have the ability to put our bodies into a state of deep relaxation by triggering “the relaxation response.” In this state, all the physiologic events in the stress reaction are reversed: pulse slows, blood pressure falls, breathing slows and muscles relax. The relaxation response needs to be brought forth by intention. Fortunately, there are many ways of doing this. A state of deep relaxation achieved through meditation or progressive muscular relaxation for example will bring you many personal benefits.
Sleep is an important way of reducing stress. Most people know what their usual sleep requirement is (the range is five to 10 hours per night; the average being seven to eight), but a surprisingly large number of people are chronically sleep deprived. When you get sufficient sleep you will wake refreshed, have good daytime energy and wake naturally before the alarm goes off in the morning. Sleep can be key in reducing stress and help you cope and function better.
5. Take time out
Are you one of those people who would think nothing of working from dawn to dusk without taking breaks, and then wonder why you’re stressed. You need to read your bodies reactions and learn when to extend yourself and when to ease up. You need to act on the information your body gives you. The key to reducing stress is taking periodic time-outs, a short recess every couple of hours throughout the day. Try dividing the day into roughly two hour segments. These time-outs can include power naps, meditation, daydreaming, a social interlude, a short walk, a refreshment break, a change to low-concentration tasks or listening to music. Leisure time and levels of distress are inversely proportional – the less leisure, the more stress. We all require time to meet our own needs (self-care, self-nurturing, etc.) and when that is neglected, trouble usually follows. Self directed activities can include exercise or recreation, relaxation, socializing, entertainment and hobbies.
6. Get Real
A common source of stress is unrealistic expectations. People often become upset about something, not because it is innately stressful, but because it does not concur with what they expected. When expectations are realistic, life feels more predictable and therefore more manageable. There is an increased feeling of control because you can plan and prepare yourself (physically and psychologically). Set yourself realistic expectations, and stop expecting the impossible.
This is one of the most powerful and creative stress reducers of which I know. Reframing is a technique used to change the way you look at things in order to feel better about them. We all do this inadvertently at times. The key to reframing is to recognize that there are many ways to interpret the same situation. Is the glass half empty or half full? If you see the glass as half full, it will feel different than seeing it as half empty because the way we feel almost always results from the way we think. The message of reframing, then, is that there are many ways of seeing the same thing – so you might as well pick the one you like. You must see positives in a negative situation. Notice that reframing does not change the external reality but simply helps people view things differently (and less stressfully).
8. Belief Systems
A lot of stress results from our beliefs. We have literally thousands of premises and assumptions about all kinds of things that we hold to be the truth. We have beliefs about how things are, how people should behave and about ourselves. Most of our beliefs are held unconsciously so we are unaware of them. This gives them more power over us and allows them to run our lives. It is critical that you get in control of your beliefs and remove the disempowering ones.
There is an old saying that “a problem shared is a problem halved.” People who keep things to themselves carry a considerable and unnecessary burden. We need to be able to express our problem by way of either having someone we can talk to or by writing it down.
10. Life Balance
If you want to achieve a healthy lifestyle you must take steps to ensure you maintain a certain level of balance… spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially, mentally and financially. You need to balance work and family, and all the other areas of your life without spreading yourself too thin and having a guilt trip when you do one thing, but think you should be doing another. All of the key areas of our lives overlap and interlink, effecting each other. Unless we create for ourselves satisfaction in each and every part of our life, we can never truly be fulfilled, or live a contented, happy and healthy life.
No success in public life can compensate for failure in the home.” —BENJAMIN DISRAELI
I hope you find these healthy living tips useful. If you realize your strong points and if you can improve on your weaknesses, then nothing can demoralize you. It is so important to make ‘keeping healthy’ a part of our day-to-day living habits. Your health depends on what you do throughout the day, everyday. A healthy lifestyle is absolutely vital.