You know the basics - eat right, move more and get enough sleep. But there are a number of other ways you can bring more vitality into your life.
Bring more joy into your life
“The healthiest response to life is joy.” Mark Twain
Society can lead us to believe that joy is found in the next material item, the next promotion or the next relationship.
But the truth is, joy is within us. It is attainable for everyone, in every circumstance.
Interestingly, it has been shown that we experience 3 x more positive experiences than negative ones. Yet, we focus on that one negative experience out of the four. Our in-bred negativity bias has led us to bond over sharing and dwelling on negative experiences.
Conversely, gratitude (appreciation for the positive) improves our social connections, makes us more optimistic, happier, decreases envy and materialism and has even been proven to improve physical health. Add to that actively discussing and sharing positive experiences, you’ll feel even happier, have increased life-satisfaction and more energy.
Try these simple practices for bringing more joy into your life:
Savour joyful moments - that beautiful sunset, a hug, a delicious bite
Share positive experiences - when asked, share the best thing that happened to you that day
Start a gratitude practice - make it daily, written, spoken or even just thought
2. Have a sense of purpose
"Those who have a “why” to live, can bear with almost any “how” Viktor Frankl, A Man’s Search for Meaning
Many people think a sense of purpose is some unattainable goal. Like starting your own world-changing-children-saving charitable enterprise.
In truth, it’s likely something much more simple. Nurturing your family, teaching a skill or committing to a cause or community.
Lack of purpose leads to increased stress, decreased self-esteem and a higher chance of depression.
Individuals with sense of purpose are better at managing stress and have a better self-rated health status. They feel better within themselves. Add to that, your level of hope correlates with how well you perform tasks. It can also improve your memory, executive functioning and overall cognition.
How you can start living with more purpose:
Journal about your core values and what means the most to you
Identify what you have the most burning desire to achieve, short and long term
Detach your sense of purpose from your work and think outside the box
Start taking small steps towards finding or realising your purpose every day
3. Maximise connection
“There is a depth to life that only comes through our connection with other people” Donna Goddard
In a world where we are encouraged to be strong, independent people, capable of fulfilling all our own needs, it can feel weak to rely on social interactions.
However, loneliness is cited as one of the most common reasons people seek psychological counselling. You can experience loneliness even when you are physically surrounded by people. It’s the level of connection you feel within you that matters. So a few, deeply intimate relationships will be infinitely better for you than a hundred superficial relationships.
Lack of social connection is more detrimental to our health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. It is detrimental for both physical and psychological health and can lead to antisocial behaviour.
On the other side, strong social connections actually impacts our genes and strengthens our immune system. It boosts recovery from illness and leads to a 50% increased chance of a long life. Social connection means you are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, have higher self-esteem and increased empathy, trust and cooperation.
How to increase your social connections:
Do a social audit and prioritise time with people that light you up, and cut out time with people that bring you down
Seek new relationships through pursuing new hobbies or communities
Put more effort into the relationships you value, and watch this be reciprocated
4. Build in rest and relaxation
“Rest is a fine medicine” Thomas Carlyle
We’ve all been preached to about the importance of sleep, but little is said about the importance of rest. In a world where busy is a status symbol, it can seem lazy, unworthy or weak to rest.
The importance of rest throughout the day, not just at night, is highly valuable. Even more so if you do struggle sleeping at night. There are two types of rest - active rest and passive rest.
Passive rest (conscious, quiet rest) is needed to unwind, process stress and relax and calm your mind. It puts your body into parasympathetic mode. This is the mode needed for proper digestion, relaxation of muscles and organs and to heal your cells. It also allows you to look and feel your best. To properly get passive rest, rest in a comfortable and safe environment and activity, being still and quiet.
Active rest involves active pursuits that light you up and give you energy. Think about the things you do that bring you joy and rejuvenate you.
Resting helps reduce stress, calms your nervous system and improves your mood. It makes you more alert and increases clarity, creativeness and motivation.
How you can get more rest:
Build space into your schedule every day - be more realistic with your time, and savour the small breaks
Do more things that feed your soul and make you happy - prioritise activities that you love
Listen to your self-talk and reprogram your thinking - it’s ok to rest without having to achieve anything at all.
So there you have it, my four unconventional ways to improve your health. You know about the importance of sleeping, eating and moving. Start looking out for the more subtle, and often much more powerful ways you can improve your health.
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Thanks, and see you next time :) Kat