Lifestyle greatly affects our physical and mental health. The diseases that cause the greatest effect on how healthy we are and how long we live (i.e. cardiovascular disorders, obesity, diabetes and cancer) are strongly determined by lifestyle. Smoking, physical activity, alcohol intake and diet exert a major impact on mortality and even small differences in lifestyle factors can make a major impact on your health and can be as effective as medication and psychotherapy. Anxiety, depression and substance abuse are greatly determined by therapeutic lifestyle factors. Incorporating therapeutic lifestyle changes into your daily routine is affordable; they can be done immediately; they have few if any side effects; and they enhance feelings of self-esteem and general well being. Walsh (2011) reviewed hundreds of research articles on lifestyle and found those listed below will help you live longer, healthier and happier:
Exercise: 30 min/day of strength training and aerobics reduces depression and cognitive decline.
Diet: Avoiding animal fats and eating a diet of fish, fruit and vegetables as well as taking Omega 3 fatty acid & Vit D supplements will reduce obesity, mood disorders and dementia. Stop eating before you're full helps prevent diabetes and heart disease. (Remember to floss after you eat, as this removes plaque and bacteria, which lessens the chance of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and dementia).
Nature: Spending time outside improves mental functioning and overall well-being.
Relationships: Good relationships enhance happiness, quality of life, resilience & cognitive capacity.
Recreation: Involvement in enjoyable activities helps people become more creative, knowledgeable, resilient, socially integrated and healthy.
Relaxation & stress management: Exercise, recreation, nurturing relationships, spiritual involvement, self-hypnosis, meditation, yoga, and muscle relaxation all help to manage stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, eating disorders, reduce psychosomatic disorders and chronic pain.
Religious or spiritual involvement: Aids longevity and is an effective way to cope with stress, mental health and substance abuse issues as well as physical illnesses. It is most beneficial when centering on love and forgiveness as opposed to punishment and guilt.
Service to others: People who volunteer are happier, healthier and may even live longer.
Sleep: Getting enough sleep helps to prevent memory problems, anger, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, depression and car accidents.