THE keys to a happier and healthier life could be in taking time out for simple pleasures, like walking, laughing, catching up with friends and playing with pets and children.
These were some of the activities recommended by New York psychiatrist and assistant professor Doctor Sudeepta Varma for improving mental and physical health.
Her top-10 lifestyle tips, as follows, were circulated in an newsletter by Sports and Spinal Physio on the Sunshine Coast.
1. Take time off every day to leave the office and go for a short walk outside, if at all possible. Getting sunlight is crucial in maintaining our moods and spirits.
2. Spend some time each week with either children or pets - their innocence, simplicity and unconditional love is a stress-reliever. Some say it increases the hormone oxytocin which is responsible for love/bonding and also relaxing.
3. Try to laugh daily. Laughter has so many health benefits such as increasing oxygenation and endorphins.
4. Take some time for stillness - this can be in the form of meditation, deep breathing, cooking and gardening. Try to do only one thing at a time
5. Exercise 30 minutes, three to five times weekly. Regular physical activity is crucial not only for the body but also for the mind to stay healthy.
6. Design a friend date - meet a friend weekly that invigorates/inspires you or improves your mood. Avoid the "Debbie downers" during this weekly friend date.
7. Consume a diet with plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B-12 and folate. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts, canola oil and flaxseed. Vitamin B-12 is found in fish, seafood, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products. Folate is found in fortified cereals, spinach, broccoli, peanuts and orange juice.
8. Stop being a slave to your technology. If you have a smart-phone that you use for work and fun, set limits with it.
9. Snooze so you don't lose. Maintain proper sleep routine which starts by getting up and going to bed the same time daily.
10. Add up your blessings - the next time you are feeling sorry for yourself, ask yourself, "What are three things that I have going for me that make me unique? What should I be thankful for? How have I contributed positively to ... (fill in with the words: society, my job, my family…) today?"
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