Updated: Mar 27
One of the greatest paradoxes in a first world country is the deliberate pursuit of happiness. Rightly so. According to Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 40 million adults (18.1% of the population) in the United States suffered from anxiety disorders and nearly half of them suffered from depression.
In 2019 alone, there were an estimated 1.38 million suicide attempts and suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. Some of the common factors that lead to suicide are poor mental health, loss of significant one, financial distress, persistent feeling of shame, chronic illness and lack of community support.
While there is no solution that can fix all problems, that does not relegate one from pursuing happiness. Like all things in life, finding fulfilment requires effort and hard work. Therefore, setting an intention to create a healthy lifestyle is paramount. As the roman poet, Juvenal states “You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body”. Here are some ways to have a more fulfilling lifestyle.
1. Healthy Diet
Consuming more whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish can provide your body with the nutrients to function effectively. By having fresh fruits and vegetables in your everyday meals, these can prevent disease and contribute to your overall wellbeing. Can you remember the phase “We are what we eat”?
Keep healthy snacks near you to avoid bingeing on processed food whenever you’re hungry. Drinks lots of water throughout the day as it can help to flush out toxins and increase your energy. If eating fruits and vegetables is not the norm, start small and increase it overtime. Consistency is the key. Limit the intake of processed food and sugared drinks as these can lead to serious health issues like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Perhaps you can start with decreasing the consumption of processed food in phases.
2. Exercise regularly
There are many benefits to physical workout. When you exercise, your body release a chemical known as endorphins, which trigger a positive feeling in your body. Can you recall the happy and light-hearted mood after a 5-mile run? Exercise also protects one from many chronic illnesses, improve your quality of sleep and reduce the feeling of anxiety and depression.
Pick an exercise that you enjoy and create a routine in your weekly schedule. There are many activities that you can do, e.g. jogging, biking, and aerobics. Having a workout buddy can double the fun! Moreover, you are giving yourself less excuses for procrastination. Create your own mini gym at home with a home workout kit or kettlebell. Start with an easy workout pace until you are comfortable for more.
3. Practice Yoga
For those who prefer a low intensity and low impact workout, yoga is a good call. It provides myriad benefit for practitioners. It improves strength, balance and flexibility. It helps to relive backache, especially for office-workers who sit for prolong hours. It keeps you relax after the session and you will find that your quality of sleep improves too! If you’ve not tried yoga, why not give it a try? It’s never too late to start something new. All you need is a good yoga mat. Whether you are learning it in a studio or online, there are plenty of choices available. The key is to practice regularly and being open.
Meditation is an overlooked activity that helps promote mental well-being. It reduces anxiety by inculcating introspection and mindfulness. Extended practice allows one to better understand their own emotion and thought process, thereby keeping one grounded.
By incorporating meditation in your everyday life, you will start to notice the beneficial change within yourself after a few weeks. If you’re having difficulty in starting, you can consider guided meditation that can be found in online resources. A meditation bench can reduce your lower limb discomfort while aligning your back posture during extended meditation.
Dance Party Photo by Ardian Lumi on Unsplash
5. A New Hobby
There are many reasons for you to pick up a new hobby. It forces you to make time for yourself despite your ‘busyness’. It can be fun and allows you to remove your mind from work. It can potentially open up your world and give you a new perspective about life. Some have even turned their hobby into a profitable venture. Think J.K Rowling.
If you always wanted to learn or do something, now is the time. Whether it is salsa dancing, cooking or gardening, the only one stopping you now is the one reading this article. “All limitations are self-imposed.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes
6. Quality Sleep
70% of the adults in America report that they have insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night. It is estimated that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes. This is from American Sleep Apnea Association.
Benefits of getting a full night sleep includes boosting your immune system, prevention of weight gain and improved ability to focus. If you’re having a hard time sleeping, try not to use your mobile or laptop 3 hours before bed. The blue light emitted by electronic devices can restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm). Another hint! Try not to consume caffeinated drinks after 2pm.
The quality of our life boils down to the choices we make every day. As we become more aware, we make better choices. With better choices, comes better result. I hope this article has been helpful to you. I wish you all a wonderful year ahead!
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Resources: Happy Girl Photo by nappy from Pexels
Anxiety & Depression Association of America
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Harvard Health Publishing - https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/exercising-to-relax