01 February 2014

Simple Things You Can Do Right Now To Be Healthier and Happier

 Here is a list of some simple things that you can do right now that will help you to feel better and be happier. None of them cost a thing, you don't have to spend anything but some time. By practicing these few things you can enrich your life and hopefully the lives of those around you. Since this is a list of my personal beliefs and practices, I wanted to make sure that there is a basis in fact for what I am recommending to you, so I made my list and then began to research to discover if there is scientific basis for what I believe it takes to live a healthy happy life. Here are my thoughts and some links to scientific findings on the subject:

#1 Turn off your phone.

You don't have to keep it off all the time, just turn it off when you are trying to have some time for yourself. Be in charge of your phone, tell it when it is useful and when it is a hindrance to peace and sanity. Don't just put it down or in your purse or pocket, turn it off. The notification tones for e-mail and Facebook, or whatever notifications you receive on a regular basis, will draw you back to the phone far more than is necessary. The phone should be a tool, not a task master. You have a message center and an inbox, most things can wait for you to have a few minutes of uninterrupted peace. There is much concern about the affects of cell phone use on the body, it is after all a microwave receiver, should be treated as such.  Here  is  More reading

#2 Breathe Deeply

The practice of taking slow deep breaths has many health benefits,  oxygenates the blood, calms the nerves, and energizes the brain. Take time to pay attention to your breathing, to purposefully breath deeply and slowly, and soon you will see an improvement in your overall well being and mental acuity. Here is an article that goes into more detail.

#3 Find Some Time to be Quiet

I know life is busy and the demands of the day often start as soon as you get your eyes open, but having a few minutes of quiet at the beginning, middle and end of your day will give you time to regenerate. This is not a time for thinking, this is a time for going still, blocking out everything and just allowing your mind and body to rest. It doesn't have to be for very long, even 5 minutes a few times a day will help! This would be a good time to practice your deep rhythmic breathing... Some of the health benefits of quiet time or meditation are: Lower blood pressure, IBS relief, a boosted immune system,increased fertility, inflammation reduction, and  fights depression. For further reading.

#4 Eat Colorful Food

Eating colorful foods will give the body a variety of nutrients to pull from, and be a cheerful feast for the eyes as well. Composing a colorful plate will not only insure that you are nourishing your body, but is key to good mental health since food supplies the source of power for your brain as well. Low calorie, colorful, raw foods may offer protection against obesity-related neurodegenerative processes, cognitive impairment and reduced brain volume and function. A diet rich in raw, colorful vegeatbles and fruits will boost both physical and mental health. Look here and here for more info.

#5 Go Outside and Get Some Sun

According to a group of studies published in a 2010 issue of the "Journal of Environmental Psychology," research participants reported feeling happier, healthier and more alive when they spent time in nature. Exposing your skin to the sun for 30 minutes a day will provide nearly all the vitamin D a body needs for a day, reduces stress and benefits sleep. But it doesn't require a study to prove that being outside is good for you physically and mentally. Spend a few minutes out in the sunshine and you will quickly see for yourself how much better you feel. Read more 

#6 Go Barefoot

Taking your shoes off and going barefoot in the grass, soil or sand allows your body to make contact with the Earth. Earthingas it is called these days allows the body to be grounded in literal terms. Being grounded allows electrons to enter your body from the earth, these negatively charged free electrons are potent anti-oxidants, which bind with positively charged free radicals destroying the free radicals by cancellation. Spending time with your bare feet in contact with the ground, at least 10 minutes a day, will allow free radicals in your body to be destroyed, which will help to alleviate inflammation, (inflammation being a major contributor to disease, reducing or eliminating inflammation is vital to good health). Another study found that earthing changed the electrical activity in the brain, as measured by electroencephalograms. Still other research found that grounding benefited skin conductivity, moderated heart rate variability, improved glucose regulation, reduced stress and boosted immunity. More here

#7 Stop and Smell the Flowers

Walking through the garden crushing herbs between your fingers and smelling their pungent scents and inhaling the sweet aroma of flowers has been a pleasant pass time through the ages, but scientific finding would indicate that it is more than a pleasant pass time. Many herbs and flowers have the ability to heal, their essence when inhaled can cross the blood brain barrier, carrying their healing essence directly to the brain, once in the brain, they can affect healing in the rest of the body. Studies have shown that hospital
patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses (lower blood pressure and heart rate), less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms. Although a walk in the garden will help your health and mental well being, having the essential oils on hand and using them regularly is something I would recommend.

#8 Laugh 

Laughter is good medicine. Smiling works too. Having a positive attitude and sharing it with others spreads the wealth and just may help to keep you healthy. Here are some scientific studies on the affects of laughter on the body.
An excerpt from from an article on WebMD.com
  • Blood flow. Researchers at the University of Maryland studied the effects on blood vessels when people were shown either comedies or dramas. After the screening, the blood vessels of the group who watched the comedy behaved normally -- expanding and contracting easily. But the blood vessels in people who watched the drama tended to tense up, restricting blood flow.
  • Immune response. Increased stress is associated with decreased immune system response, says Provine. Some studies have shown that the ability to use humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body and boost the levels of immune cells, as well.
  • Blood sugar levels. One study of 19 people with diabetes looked at the effects of laughter on blood sugar levels. After eating, the group attended a tedious lecture. On the next day, the group ate the same meal and then watched a comedy. After the comedy, the group had lower blood sugar levels than they did after the lecture.
  • Relaxation and sleep. The focus on the benefits of laughter really began with Norman Cousin's memoir, Anatomy of an Illness. Cousins, who was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful spine condition, found that a diet of comedies, like Marx Brothers films and episodes of Candid Camera, helped him feel better. He said that ten minutes of laughter allowed him two hours of pain-free sleep.
#9 Be Kind

Random acts of kindness not only helps the recipient, it helps the giver. Kindness can diminish the effects of disease, decrease stress, anxiety and depression and enhance self esteem, boost self confidence and strengthen the immune system.The saying "what goes around comes around" may well be rooted in truth. Read more here.

#10 Be Grateful

 When we experience the generosity, kindness and sacrifice of others for our benefit and adopt an "attitude of gratitude", the peripheral health benefits are numerous. Gratitude has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, and a higher long-term satisfaction with life. See here for more...

If you have a suggestion for other simple ways to health and happiness please feel free to add them in the comment section. I would love to hear what you are thinking!

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