Seasons greetings and a prosperous and pleasant new year for you!
Health is one of the most precious gifts we can enjoy and share in life. Here are some gentle reminders about what helps lead to—and maintain—good health for a lifetime:
DIET - yes, the obvious but an important and in fact, key, component of health. Aim for moderation, MOST of the time. An occasional extra piece of pie or other yummy dessert is fine. Just toe the line most of the time. Remember the basics and you will already be far ahead of the game: avoid the bad stuff (fats, sugars, refined foods, processed foods) and go for the good gals and guys (veggies, a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates, sufficient protein each day, plenty of water and fluids).
EXERCISE - there are so very many opportunities to get out and about that even if you just walk or bike you will be doing well; find some activities that focus on these three areas: cardiovascular health (something that makes you huff and puff a bit), strength (core strength as well as arm and leg strength) and flexibility (try a yoga, tai chi or other movement class). A routine at a gym is good but make sure to have a fitness specialist work with you to develop a rounded program.
HAPPINESS - this seems obvious but actually can be a challenge, at times, for folks in the hasty, breathless and nonstop hustle of modern life. If this seems fine and comes naturally for you then count yourself blessed. Even so, it’s both wise and fun to ensure you schedule at least some time each month for just having fun with family and friends and whatever else truly catches your fancy. Humans are social creatures so don’t underestimate the healing power of simply spending time chatting with friends or enjoying some activity. It’s manna for the soul.
PRACTICALITY - oh, that stuff. Well, yeah. Having a roof over you and your family’s head is important too. So, PART of health is ensuring that the OTHER areas of life are flowing along smoothly too. This means that you should have some sense of where you are at in terms of work, career and goals. Do try to develop a short-term and longer-term plan for achieving some worthwhile objectives. A sense of accomplishment—having set a goal, worked towards it and then achieved it—is an essential underpinning of mental health. Life needs to have meaning and if you can feel like you are making some steady progress despite the wayward weather at times then you are likely on track both with your pocketbook and heart.
MENTAL CLARITY - once you have a good start in the previous four areas then really you can gain the most by working to develop your mind. There are lots of ways to do this: you can learn meditation or a stress-reduction technique; you might try a qigong class (pronounced “chee” as in cheese, and “gong” as in gong [ring the bell]). Qi is the Chinese names for what scientists call biological energy. Essentially it is electricity in the body, just like you have electricity in your home. Part of Oriental medicine—and what helps to make it unique—is the goal to regulate this biological electricity. Research shows that doing so helps calm the mind and improve health in many ways. There are many other possibilities for bringing some more focus, vision, peace and alertness to your mind. All these qualities help and do indeed lead to better health. Try to find a class—in-person or online—that teaches some approach to mental improvement. If you stay with it long enough, you will truly be glad you did!