Stress is the greatest ager. Deep breathing and behavioral modification can control your reaction to stressful events.
Break the vicious cycle of stress with a productive response to any kind of stressful event: breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Place a finger on your belly button and concentrate on your finger moving in as you breathe in and out as you exhale. Deep breaths like this can act as a mini meditation.Shifting to slower breathing in times of tension can help calm you and allow you to perform better mentally and physically.
2. Honor sleep.
When you’re busy, it’s easy to say the thing you want to sacrifice is sleep. But you need sleep for many reasons, and one of the biggies is that it conditions your brain for optimal learning, problem-solving and memory. Shoot for 6.5 to 8.5 hours per night.
3. Walk 10,000 steps a day.
The sweet spot for getting the maximal health benefit for minimal work is 10,000 steps a day. Research shows it’s the number of steps that can help people lose weight and gain control of diabetes.
Try these indoor exercises when the temperature is too cold outside:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Walk a few laps around your office or home each hour.
- Do lunges or jumping jacks while you’re standing at the stove or the washing machine.
4. Choose your food wisely.
Pan-seared salmon. A sun-ripened pear. Stick to foods like these that you and your body love.
In a fascinating new study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston examined the eating habits and health records of almost 55,000 women over about 26 years. Those who ate the most produce, good fats and lean proteins—and who steered clear of things like sugary drinks, trans fat and too much alcohol—were 13 percent more likely to stay mobile and independent compared to those whose diets were less healthy.
That’s big news. More mobility means more freedom to live the life you want. It also keeps your body and mind younger while cutting your risk for heart disease, diabetes and depression.
A pro tip for healthy eating: Buy a good cooking knife.
If you invest in a high-quality knife and learn how to use it, your time savings in meal preparation will be enormous, and your desire and willingness to make delicious meals will increase exponentially.
5. Know your health numbers.
Keep the following in mind throughout the year:
- 120/80 or lower: A normal blood pressure reading
- 35 or less (for women) or 39 or less (for men): A healthy waist circumference measured at the belly button
- 2: The number of times weekly to build and preserve muscle with strength training.
We’re huge fans of puzzles that stimulate the brain. Try out sites like BrainHQ.com for stimulation designed to keep you sharp, or stick with old standbys like the daily crossword, Sudoku or a big jigsaw puzzle.
Personal growth is one of the keys to feeling happy. Focus on self-improvement daily, whether it’s taking better care of your health, doing things that give you confidence or journaling to understand yourself better.
A recent study of newly graduated college students proved focusing on happiness matters. Young adults who spent their first two years out of school pursuing materialistic goals (wealth, looks and fame) were far less happy than students who achieved more intrinsic personal goals, like getting involved in their communities or nurturing close friendships.
This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.