Over the years, there has been a push to live healthier, happier, and more sustainable lives. Though plenty of social, economic, environmental, and societal stressors can make living your best life challenging, there are also tangible and universal ways to improve your quality of life.
Living your best life doesn't have to look like quitting your day job and running off to Italy, though it might sound tempting. Discover practical tips and habits to live your best life, embracing mindfulness, self-care, and positive mindset for greater well-being. Keep reading for some practical steps and practices to live your absolute best life today.
Prioritize Your Physical Health
It's easy to dismiss physical health's impact on your quality of life when you're young, virile, and able-bodied. As you get older and your body begins showing signs of aging, you may find yourself becoming less active or having more health issues. Prioritizing your physical health now can help keep you active, reduce your risk of disease, and have a better quality of life as you age.
Food for Health and Happiness
The foods you eat greatly impact your physical fitness, longevity, and state of mind. While food is about enjoyment and community, it should also be about fueling your body with the right nutrients to remain healthy and active.
Foods that are highly refined or processed, have added sugars, and are high in sodium can contribute to low energy, obesity, disease, and more. On the flip side, food can improve our health and happiness.
- Carbohydrates: Complex carbs, like beans, whole grains, and vegetables, release the "feel good" hormone serotonin without the crash, often attributed to simple carbs that are high in sugar and starch.
- High Protein Foods: Poultry, legumes, dairy, and lean meats are high in protein, which release norepinephrine and dopamine, boosting energy and concentration.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found primarily in fatty fish, they have powerful anti-inflammatory effects, contributing to overall brain health and more. Inflammation has been identified as a key factor in serious diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, and more.
Exercise Toward Longevity
Exercise isn't about vanity; it's a means to reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression while also reducing your risk for certain diseases and keeping you active longer. There is compelling evidence that 150 minutes of moderate exercise and two days of muscle strength activity a week can reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and other diseases.
Exercise has also been tied to immunity health. Physical activity has been shown to flush out bacteria in the lungs and airways, increase white blood cell and antibody circulation, and raise body temperature to prevent bacteria growth.
Sleep to Repair
Sleep is an integral part of your physical health. Not only does sufficient sleep reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses, but it improves brain function and emotional well-being. Most adults need at least 7 hours of sleep per night. This is the adequate amount of time your body requires to repair cells, restore energy, eliminate toxic waste, release hormones and proteins, and store new information in the brain.
Prioritize Your Mental Health
In the past, the value of mental health was overlooked but is finally being prioritized in this fast-paced culture. Mental health, which includes psychological, social, and emotional well-being, affects how you think, feel, and act. Prioritizing your mental health profoundly affects your mood, self-esteem, relationships, well-being, and decision-making. All of which have the ability to improve or diminish your quality of life.
Grow Your Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is the catalyst for personal growth and improved mental health. Identifying emotions, needs, and patterns in your life allows you more control over regulating your emotions, leading to better-coping mechanisms, problem-solving, decision-making, communication, and more.
Once you know what you need to be the best and healthiest version of yourself, you can set boundaries with yourself and others that will allow you to maintain that equilibrium in your life. Setting boundaries develops independence, builds self-esteem, gives you a greater sense of identity, avoids burnout, and prioritizes your well-being.
Ask For Help
While there is a plethora of information out in the world about mental health, it isn't always easy to identify the root causes of anxiety or depression. Seeking the services of a therapist or mental health professional can assist in identifying areas of need and provide you with the tools to overcome obstacles and create healthy coping mechanisms and healthy habits. All of which will improve your well-being and allow you to live your best life.
Prioritize Your Passions
What makes anyone happier than doing what they love? Whether it's your career or a hobby, doing what you're passionate about is living your best life. Engaging in activities you love has been proven to lower stress, increase productivity, improve feelings of anxiety and depression, social connections, physical health, and more. A study in New Zealand showed that engaging in creative activities improved the participants' sense of well-being.
Another cross-sectional study with 567 women participants found a direct link between job satisfaction and health status. While not everyone can leave their less-than-satisfying day job, you can carve out time for passion projects, traveling, creative activities, hobbies, or whatever you love to do.
Prioritize Meaningful Connections
Meaningful social connections are the center of the human experience. Relationships strongly impact our lives, for the good or the bad. So, it's important to make a variety of quality connections. Studies have discovered that having a variety of social connections may help reduce stress, improve outlook, develop greater empathy, increase self-esteem, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. It's also been proven that healthy relationships benefit your physical health, improving your body's ability to fight germs, reducing heart-related risks, and enhancing longevity.
Prioritize Healthy Habits
Living your best life isn't just about making dramatic lifestyle changes but also incorporating healthy routines into your daily life. These daily habits are the areas that can often get overlooked but become a saving grace, especially if you can't get to the gym that day or jet set off to Greece at a moment's notice.
Self-care is hugely important and looks different for everyone. When you practice mindfulness in your daily life, you'll begin to recognize when your "tank" is running low and when you need to stop and practice self-care to refuel. Self-care can be whatever you want as long as it improves your overall well-being. It can look like decluttering and organizing your space, taking time to read, taking a nap, treating yourself to a massage, etc. Find a way to incorporate one or two self-care routines into your daily schedule.
Meditation has been known to have both physical and mental benefits, and it's a great practice for growing self-awareness. Not only does it provide a sense of calm and balance, but it also slows heart rate, increases blood flow and energy, reduces stress, decreases blood pressure, and enhances your immune system.
Studies have found compelling evidence that some meditation styles could increase attention, mental quickness, and memory in older participants. A review of over 30 studies found that mindfulness meditation reduced pain, decreased symptoms of depression in individuals with chronic pain, and improved quality of life.
Journaling goes hand-in-hand with the practice of meditation. The physical act of writing can help you organize your thoughts, identify your feelings, and according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, ease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. Other benefits include boosting emotional intelligence, improving self-esteem, providing space from negative thoughts, and aiding in processing emotions.
Prioritizing your physical and mental health, passions, meaningful connections, and healthy habits has many tangible benefits to ensure a higher quality of life. All of these practices have the potential to extend life, so you can also live your best life longer.