Feeling happy and healthy takes a combination of being aware and consciously working with three parts of our system, our mind, body, and spirit. Here are some of the things that I have found helpful over the years to keep me healthy and gives me peace of mind, joy, and fulfillment. It’s a journey and I am learning new things all the time. I’d love to share them with you.
- Be Active
I’m a big believer in being active and exercising, whether you’re going to the gym, playing a sport, dancing, hiking, swimming, walking and jogging, whatever it is that you enjoy doing. There are so many benefits to being active and here are just a few:
- Increased breath capacity *note my last blog on what increasing your lung capacity and taking deep breaths can do for you. https://reachyourfullpotentialnyc.com/stimulating-vagus-nerve-deep-breathing/
- Increased blood flow – It’s crucial for good health. Your heart pumps about 5 quarts of blood through your body’s system of blood vessels each minute and delivers oxygen to help eliminate waste. When circulation is poor, your blood doesn’t flow as vigorously and symptoms can include numbness in your fingers and toes, fluid retention, bloating and lack of energy.
- Increased brain sensitivity – for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression, making you feel happier.
- Reduces anxiety.
- Maintains and builds strong muscles and bones – which are going to allow you to have more strength and flexibility to do all the things you want to achieve.
- Increased energy.
- Helps you to focus better by increasing blood flow to the brain – keeps you aware with less brain fog, increasing memory and thinking skills, causes the hippocampus (vital for memory and learning) to grow in size.
- Helps to keep your weight down.
- Reduces the risk of chronic disease.
- Reduces changes in the brain that can cause Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
- Helps you relax and sleep better.
- Reduces pain.
2. Take care of your Emotional Life
Emotional health is a daily discipline we cannot neglect. It’s like going to the gym or brushing our teeth, an everyday thing. Many of us grew up in homes that repressed emotions, we didn’t learn healthy ways of expressing them or weren’t allowed to express them. They became deeply buried and only explode out in the worst of times when we get triggered and can’t hold them in any longer or we manage to continue to hold them in which causes all kinds of physical, mental and emotional problems.
If we don’t acknowledge and heal any repressed trauma in our life (no matter how big or small), it can cause problems in our careers, in the quality of our relationships, chronic diseases, depression, and Alzheimer’s. If you are struggling with doing this on your own, seek help in finding out what your core beliefs are about yourself that are held in your subconscious and how to change them if needed. Your deeply held core beliefs affect your emotions and your reactions to everything.
95% of our life is run by our subconscious, we can ’will’ things to happen just so much before the subconscious takes over and we start sabotaging. Once these core beliefs are transformed, your subconscious will be able to accept and believe positive affirmations so you are free to create your ideal life.
3. Develop and use your mind by:
- Reading books and perhaps attend a book club
- Writing and doing research, attend a writing course
- Taking college courses or any other type of course
- Crossword puzzles (those that stretch your mind), chess and mind games
- Learn another language or a musical instrument
- Eat a healthy diet (more on diet below).
- Teach a skill to others
- Listening to others – as we become more interested in others, we not only learn a lot but it develops parts of our brain
- Learn a new hobby or skill
- Write things down–longhand. Research has shown that writing down new information longhand helps you integrate it more thoroughly and recall it more easily.
- Stop smoking. Researchers have found evidence that smoking impedes cognitive function and may even shrink the size of your brain’s hippocampus. It can decrease abilities related to memory, planning, and overall mental ability.
- Get plenty of sleep
- Listening to certain music
- Spirituality and faith practices such as contemplation, prayer, and meditation. As Andrew Newberg, director of research at the Jefferson Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital and author of the book, “How God Changes Your Brain”, says “As you grow spiritually, as you change your beliefs, as you enhance your sense of compassion, for instance, this affects the brain. If you practice prayer a lot, for example, data shows that these practices actually change your brain over time. Specifically increased activity in the frontal lobes (one of the areas in the brain involved with compassion and positive emotions.
4. Spirituality and Sense of Purpose
Your spirituality is connected to your mind, your body and your emotions. When we are seeking happiness only from our own worldly experience, we are going to come up short because, well, we only have our experience to rely on and for many of us, that might not be enough to feel safe, loved and accepted. Also as much as there are great people around to learn from, they don’t have the unique and specific perspective and connection with your higher power that you have. God wants to have a relationship with us but we have to seek it and want it also. In “Psychology Today” Ryan T. Howell Ph.D. says that spiritual people are gracious, optimistic, compassionate, savor life experiences, flourish, and self-actualize.
Connecting to God will help you to discover your purpose. Having a strong sense of your purpose gives you the strength to get through difficult times because you know that those times give you the learning and inner strength that makes you grow in character. A new study from Northwestern University finds that people who know their purpose also have the benefit of sleeping better at night. Having a purpose outside yourself is good not only for your mental health but it’s also good for your physical health, longevity and even your genes. Those with a greater sense of purpose, no matter what age or education level, scored better on tests of memory, executive and cognitive functions than people with less purpose.
5. Be Grateful
No matter how difficult and challenging things are in your life, there is always something to be grateful for, whether it is a roof over your head or a friend you can rely on or a pillow to put your head on at night. When we cultivate gratitude, we increase our well-being and happiness. In addition, gratitude—and especially expressing it to others—is associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy. If we look at it from an energetic point of view it raises your vibrational energy.
6. Give Back
As Alice G. Walton writes in Forbes magazine, “Most philosophies and religions, include a strong sense of giving back to the world. Not only does it have the obvious benefit of helping others, but it’s apparently one of the most therapeutic things we can do for ourselves. Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” When we do this, we get to see how our problems are not so big in the grand scheme of things and that others have suffered deeply also. When we share each other’s burdens they become lighter!
7. Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet helps you on multiple levels, mind, body, and spirit. I’m not going to take much time here talking about diet as this could be a whole blog in and of itself. I remember years ago I found myself in the hospital having all sorts of tests for my heart as I was having dizzy spells. After spending 3 or 4 days in the hospital, reading a novel and getting lots of rest in between tests, I realized I was only suffering from stress. The tests came out perfectly normal but I knew I needed to take better care of myself. I had been putting myself last on the list. I went to a naturopath and changed my diet. I had to be strict at first and I took a lot of vitamins and supplements. It was incredible the change I felt in my energy levels, my mood, my sense of being able to affect change in my life and in my confidence. I’m not as strict anymore but I try to stay as healthy as possible, it is so worth it! My prayer for you is that you can add some of these ideas into your life so you can feel happier and healthier and make a positive difference in your life!
Sleep and Purpose Study:
Is purpose in life associated with less sleep disturbance in older adults
Purpose in life and cognitive functioning in adulthood