7 Smart Habits For a Happier, Healthier 2019

With the new year upon us, now is the perfect time to reassess your habits and decide how you’d love this year to go. Want to experience better health? Improved business? A happier more connected family life? These 7 habits have helped millions of Americans to discover a life they adore. Now it's your turn!

Yoga

This multi-dimensional system combines the principles, practices and philosophies of ancient Indian wisdom. Through breathing, awareness, relaxation and postures (called asana’s), ease and wellbeing are enhanced.

"Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” - The Bhagavad Gita


Whether you are eight or 98, there are elements of Yoga that can be followed. The benefits for your health — and your life — can be profound.

And if you struggle with certain health issues, the research supports this practice also…

Chronic low back pain?

The study Yoga for chronic low back pain: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials identified improvements in pain and functional disability.

Migraine?

An article in the International Journal of Yoga noted reduced headache frequency and severity with regular practice.

Want 2019 to be the year that you transform your wellbeing?

The evidence shows Yoga could be your portal, with the article Yoga meets positive psychology stating, “Positive correlations [have been] identified between the extent of yoga practice and meaning in life and gratitude.”

Meditation

If you don’t yet meditate, 2019 is the year to begin. See, the benefits of this smart habit are vast and the practice is simple. Meditation, at its core, is focus… On breath, an object, a mantra, a body part, a single thought. The goal is to achieve a state of inner awareness and calm, perspective and ease.

I love Headspace’s thoughts on meditation:

“Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment.”

While I believe everyone can benefit from this practice, let’s take a look at some evidence-based advantages…

A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that meditation can reduce panic and generalized anxiety disorders.

An article in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that regular transcendental meditation improves blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. As a health expert who specializes in helping women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, this finding is both spectacular and exciting!

But what is, maybe, my favorite benefit?

The aptly titled research article Open Hearts Build Lives: Positive Emotions, Induced Through Loving-Kindness Meditation, Build Consequential Personal Resources found that the practice of loving kindness meditation elevates the experience of positive emotions: from love to joy, gratitude to contentment and hope and awe. 

If you're just starting?

My recommendation is to make use of the multitude of complimentary guided meditations on YouTube. They will ease you into this world. With a guide, many people find any previous meditation challenges fade to nothing.

Visualization

Staying with the power of the mind to motivate, heal and live well, visualization is one of my smart habit recommendations for 2019. Why? We already unconsciously visualize, just like we all already breathe. Just as meditation can draw focus to, and power from, the breath, visualization opens our minds and engages our senses in a wonderfully, interactive way. This practice connects our brain to our body, altering our very biology. It's like goal setting on natural steroids!

And speaking of goal setting…

Goal Setting

I’ve heard it said that if you don’t write it down, it won’t happen. Whether or not this is strictly true, it makes sense to carefully set your goals. A pilot knows her destination, sets her course and continually adjusts the flight plan on-route to ensure an efficient journey to an exact location. This approach will increase the chances you’ll reach your destination of choice, too.

A simple goal setting acronym involves setting S.M.A.R.T. goals:

Specific - you need to know what you want to achieve.
Measurable - so you can track and tweak your progress.
Attainable - because goals need to be do-able.
Relevant - otherwise you're wasting your time and energy.
Time-bound - to provide the impetus to act.

Becoming vegan?

Has the passing of the holiday season given you pause for thought? Time to consider your lifestyle habits afresh? A switch to a vegan philosophy may be worth pondering. Why? Vegans abstain from the use or consumption of all animal products. This lifestyle choice frees its followers from the weighty connection to animal cruelty and encourages a more compassionate life journey. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also noted that vegans “tend to be thinner, have lower serum cholesterol, and lower blood pressure, reducing their risk of heart disease.” A well balanced, nutrient-replete vegan lifestyle could be the smart habit that your year needs most.

Supplementation

With chronic health challenges, nutrient deficiencies and modern day stresses, I believe high-quality supplementation is a requirement for wellbeing. The great news is there are evidence-based products readily available.

Food-based vitamin and mineral supplements

The Environmental Working Group has stated that, “More than 40 percent of adults have dietary intakes of vitamin A, C, D and E, calcium and magnesium below the average requirement.” This is a dangerous situation and appropriate supplementation can provide the required sustenance.

Pre and probiotics

The health of the gut underlies the health of every human. With toxins, poor diet, and less than ideal lifestyle choices, our digestive microbiota can take a beating. This can negatively impact on our hormone, nervous and immune systems, on our mood, our ability to heal and how well we feel. Luckily, pre and probiotics are often able to help.

Supplements to support health challenges

A lack of nutrients can contribute to health challenges like insulin resistance and cardiovascular problems and sufficiency may enhance healthy brain function, deeper sleep , and balanced energy levels. Then there are traditional remedies that have provided much loved therapy and relief over a millennia. From natural sleep aid remedies to vitamins for anxiety, stress relief preparations and virtual happy pills, supplements offer a safer, practical alternative for better health.

Fun

Whenever I read lists of smart habits and health promoting activities, often they seem to miss an important key: fun! Life can be overwhelming and so… darn… serious. I believe, hand-on-heart, that joyful amusement should be both enjoyed on a whim and regularly scheduled into daily life… and guarded with zealous enthusiasm! Fun in under-rated and over-needed.

 

Author:

Dr. Rebecca Harwin

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