As I move along in my journey of reinvention, I have been in a process of continual evaluation of what works in my life and what doesn’t. There are many strategies and tools we can all use to live healthier lives. But often we feel too busy, too overwhelmed, or too stressed to focus on our own needs.
Through this process of self-reflection, I have landed on four life habits that I intend to focus on as I move forward on this journey.
- Embrace relationships and adopt an anti-age segregation approach – Over the past thirty years I have often found myself intending to call friends or family members only to place that thought on hold because I told myself that life just gets in the way. Friendships require time, attention, and nurturing and family members may be far away both geographically and emotionally. As you age, the scope of your relationships can become very narrow and your risks of loneliness and all of the subsequent health impacts increase unless you are proactive. Developing relationships with people of all ages exposes us to more interests, opportunities, and a deeper understanding about our lives as well as those of others.
- Engage in work or activities that sustain passion and provide your life with meaning – Full time work is not the only activity that we can do as we age that provides opportunity to fulfill our passions and life purpose. Finding any activity that both energizes us, aligns with our values, and stretches our ability to learn and grow is important. What seems to be key is that we have to both embrace and enjoy whatever it is that we choose to do.
- Adopt a life long learning habit – Although this may sound like a cliched concept, research from the field of neuroscience suggests that to enhance the brains ability to create new neural pathways, it is critical that we not stop learning new things. The current craze of crossword puzzles, sudoku puzzles, etc., while not harmful, may not stem the tide of dementias as promised. This knowledge is now surpassed by understanding that our brains actually benefit from learning new things and being challenged by the process. Learning new things may be uncomfortable at first, but if we persevere, the gains can be significant.
- Adopt healthy habits as soon as possible – (Or it is never too late). Most of us are aware (sometimes painfully so) that our health habits related to proper nutrition, exercise and movement throughout the day can help us achieve our longevity goals. By reducing and eventually avoiding harmful practices such as smoking or vaping cigarettes, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or abusing other substances, or eating junk or unhealthy amounts of food, we have the ability to turn our health status around no matter what our age. Perhaps most critically is the manner in which we internally talk to ourselves about some of our less desirable habits. Having the ability to counter some of our own negative self-talk and be compassionate towards ourselves can take us forward in a positive way.
These are the healthy habits I am trying to commit to building more mindfully into my life. What are your strategies for living a healthier life? I would love to hear what you and others around you are doing. We only have one life to live and it is a work in progress for all of us.