Healthy and Happy
FUN WAYS TO A HEALTHIER YOU
There’s a fun way to keep healthy and a boring, regimented routine. Not that there’ anything wrong with routine, but it can get tedious and oh-so-easy to give up. Here are some fun things you can incorporate into your everyday life to jump-start your way to happier health.
Okay you are addicted to ‘Friends’ or your favourite sit com. So, you’re a couch potato! Bet you didn’t know sitting for hours in front of the tube lowers your temperature and pulse rate, and ease muscle tension? Great for de-stressing, but of course, you don’t burn too many calories. Instead try gardening (even if it’s just potted plants on a window sill) or reading a great book, instead.
Share chores. Whoever said you had to work and cook and do the laundry and take up the kid’s homework and clean up and… phew! Sounds tiring right? Delegate. That’s the key to a happier you. Teach your children to clear up after themselves. Get your husband to supervise their studies, take turns doing the laundry and involve the whole family in the cooking. Not only are you inculcating the right values and spirit, but you’re also taking a load off your back, literally.
Dancing is great exercise. Put on a favourite ‘1. (CD or tape, even ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and boogie your heart out. You don t need to be at a disc or with a partner; just keep the groove going for at least half an hour, jump, twist, do the mashed potato or the birdie dance. It’ll get you in a great mood and is better than routine aerobic steps.
Laugh, laugh and laugh! Nothing makes you feel better than a good belly laugh; it adds years to your life, makes those worry lines disappear and laugh lines always look nicer, anyway. Rent a funny movie, read a book or even an Asterix comic and laugh till happy tears run down your cheeks. Better still, meet up with a friend you know has a great sense of humour and is always armed with a funny story. Learn to look at the funny side of life. Remember, laughter helps get rid of allergies and keeps them at bay and also releases oxytocin, a stress- relieving hormone.
Do feel-good things— like volunteer at a dog pound, an orphanage, a home for the aged? Everyone can do with a little comforting, a teeny hug and a cheerful smile. And the one richer for the experience will be you. Sounds selfish, but not if you give of yourself selflessly. If you prefer not to commit yourself to anything, visit an art gallery, or a photo exhibition, go to the theatre or a live performance of classical music. According to studies, emotional stimulation boosts the immune system and helps you live longer.
Keep your mind active. Do the crossword, solve word puzzles or play mind games (the genuine variety, please!). Do everything you can to keep your brain alert and ticking. The more mental connections you make, the longer you keep Alzheimer’s away.
Give yourself a massage. Okay, so you won’t be able to do your back, but you can massage your own neck, shoulders, hands, legs and feet. If you want to be pampered, show your partner how to do it. Massage releases oxytocin (a hormone and a natural stress-buster) in your body.
Keep a ‘happy journal’-This is where you stick pictures of holidays or parties or get-togethers and where you put down happy memories. Once again, your body releases oxytocin as a reaction. So the next time you’re feeling cranky, curl up with your memories and you’ll beat the blues in a minute.
Drink gallons of liquids. Fresh juices, power shakes and heaps of water. Liquid flushes the toxins out of your body and is biggest favour you can do your skin. When you’re tanked up, you’re bound to visit the loo often. That’s good, since that ensures your kidneys stay healthy and you’re less likely to contract urinary tract infections. Most importantly, visiting the loo immediately after also helps flush bacteria out and keep infections away.
While we’re on the topic, make whoopee whenever you can. Sex raises your endorphin levels, releases serotonin and works wonders for your hair, skin and mood. It you’re still the DINK (double income, no kids) types, do it as often as possible. For it will make for some happy memories to hang onto when the kids come along and you’re just too tired. Those with kids find the time, please! Of course, play safe at all times. Contraception is a must, not an option because the repercussions can be heart-breaking, health-destroying and in some cases downright dangerous.
The climate we live in is extremely moody. It can be hot and humid, cold and wet, or hot and dry. As far as clothing goes, natural fibres like cotton and silk are best suited to our climatic conditions. Sure, there are more convenient options that don’t crumple, are wash-and-wear, etc, but they’re not really the best for the skin. Our skin needs to breathe and if it doesn’t, bacteria thrive and that can give rise to terrible body odour, skin infections and other gross things. Think twice before you choose convenience over comfort. Else, you could end up with a lifelong skin condition.
‘The future doesn’t know who you are and the past never forgets — heard something to that effect in a song recently.
And nothing can be more true as regards your health. Your eating/living habits, have given you the body and health you have today, but the future is in your hands and it’s never too late to change habits that are getting you down. Stop taking leisure drugs if you are, cut down on alcohol if you can’t eliminate it altogether, stop being a worry-wart, control your temper, junk the cancer stick, stop pigging out on eat-all-you-want buffets, exercise moderately, if more is not possible.
Some activities are natural de-stressors — like embroidery, knitting, cooking, reading, gardening, tending a fish tank, etc. Studies have proved that these lower your blood pressure and slow your heart rate. It doesn’t matter if you knit a mile long scarf or if your cross-stitch looks like a cross between a web and a tangle or if all you do is pull up weeds in the garden. Just doing it is enough.
Keep your surroundings bright and airy. Have plenty of cross ventilation and natural light coming into your home. Studies have shown that homes that are dark, dingy and suffocating are breeding grounds for allergies, illnesses and even depression. Open those windows let the sound and the sunshine in. The fresh air is an added benefit. If that’s not possible, surround yourself with bright colours and things that reflect light, like mirrors. Colourful paintings or a huge bunch of fresh flowers immediately ‘lift’ a place. Paint one wall (D-J-Y) a funky colour and the rest of the walls white (it reflects light better than any other colour) or have bright, happy pillows lying around. All of this enhances the quality of your life, beneficially affects your wellbeing and helps keep depression, anxiety and a host of psychological illnesses away.
Light fragrant candles or burn an aromatherapy lamp when you’re feeling low. Just make sure you get the oils/fragrances right. Light them first thing in the morning or late at night, in the living room, bed room or bath. Play some soothing music— could even be spiritual, if you’re so inclined. This is a great way to connect with yourself and de-stress before you burn out.
Take vitamin, mineral and calcium supplements and make sure you eat the right food to aid absorption. An iron supplement taken with orange juice is far more effective than the pill by itself. Magnesium, potassium and fibre are equally essential to keep your body in ship-shape order. Get as much of them as you can from fresh fruits and vegetables. Check with your doctor on the right combination of antioxidant supplements for you.
‘Checkout natural supplements like spirulina, ginseng, etc, at the various natural health stores and outlets in your city. Find one that suits you and use it to improve your health. Spirulina gives you an energy boost if you’re feeling down; ginseng is an aid to promote overall health and vitality Check out other options. Check with your doctor that they will not react with any existing prescriptions.
Carbohydrates stabilise blood sugar, so get plenty of those to deal with PMS.
Don’t binge on the sweet-stuff and stay away from coffee, it’ll only get worse.
Most important of all, if your attitude is getting you down, take a good look at yourself and try to change your ways. Stop comparing yourself with others, it will only make you feel inadequate and stop you from realising your potential. Don’t constantly doubt yourself; you’ll only work yourself up to a frenzy for nothing. Do your best, but stop worrying about whether it REALLY was your best! Learn to share responsibilities — at work and at home. Don’t be a perfectionist — if something is not quite folded the right way (according to you), it really doesn’t matter. And stop worrying about growing old. You’re only becoming more mature, experienced, generous and patient with age — concentrate on the positive aspects.