Good health is a sound mind and a body abundant in energy and joy, resulting critically from the habits that we structure our lives around. The following lifestyle choices can greatly enhance the quality of your life, and help you thrive more in your daily activities.
1. Eat together
“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art” François de La Rochefoucauld.
With convenient foods becoming more convenient and the number of hours worked per week rising for many, sitting down to meals with friends and loved ones has fallen in priority. While the dinner table acts as a place of community and is considered sacred in many countries, more and more people are rushing through meals spent in front of a television or computer screen.
For families, eating together reduces the likelihood of truancy and drug and alcohol abuse in children. As adults, it lowers our chances of obesity, relieves stress, and improves our relationships. Nurturing our social relationships this way can critically improve our health and longevity, as researchers have found that having weak or low-social ties can be just as harmful to our health as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.
Start to see mealtime not as just an opportunity to eat and replenish, but as a ritual to nurture your body, mind and heart. Eat slowly and mindfully, and don’t underestimate the value of cooking simply and with great love.
Walking is one of the best activities we can do for ourselves. It burns major calories, stimulates our brains, and tones our legs, abs and feet. Unlike high intensity exercise, it doesn’t stimulate our appetite or lead to increased need for calorie intake, and is very energizing.
While an hour of cardio or weight training is excellent for improving our strength and stamina, it’s only a small fraction of our days. Integrating walking into our regimen breaks up our routine and ensures that we are frequently in motion.
You can incorporate more walking simply by avoiding escalators and stairs, parking further away in the parking lot, walking to lunch, prioritizing the time to listen to a podcast or book, or taking a walk with a friend or partner after work. Small changes can have a big impact; recognize the value of these slight adjustments, as they can be powerful for your mental and physical wellbeing.
3. Give compliments
It is far easier to give criticism that to give praise, however recognizing the best in people will create a massive shift in your everyday life. Giving kind, sincere compliments to those around you raises your vibration and changes peoples’ perception of you. As you walk around showering genuine kindness on people and expecting nothing in return, those people immediately send love back to you. When you compliment your co-worker on her presentation, or tell your barista how delicious your coffee is this morning, it immediately uplifts their mood and softens their energy.
While many adults go for days at a time without positive reinforcement at home or in the workplace, recognizing them for an act of courage or simply a new haircut can instantly transform their self-perception. As humans, we so deeply want to feel connected and appreciated. Sending love in the form of kind words is the most simple and effective way to brighten the hearts of others, and our own.
4. Take naps
Quality sleep is one of the most important things for good health. It is the only chance the body has to do critical maintenance and repair, and the only time that growth hormone is created. Lack of sleep is something we simply cannot afford, but not only have we embraced it, we’ve developed an unsustainable dependence on stimulants to combat it.
While many go to sleep late and wake up early for work, making the commitment to schedule in short naps can change your life. Naps stimulate creativity, nurture our brains, and release stress and anxiety that build up over time. Naps promote weight loss and enable our regulatory hormones to re-calibrate to balance our entire systems.
Being disciplined and religious about your sleep will impact everything from your moods and your focus, to the quality and stability of your relationships.
We are the products of our habits. Cultivating rituals that nourish and support our health not only improves our life, but the lives of those around us. Putting ourselves first enables us to show up more genuinely for others, and honors the divine spirit within.
Photo by John French