Scientifically proven healthy habits: Stress, anxiety, and general unhappiness are all caused by an imbalance in our lives. In other words, a balanced life is a happy life. What are the healthy habits that you want to carry into the future? Love, friends, work, and family are the basic pillars of happiness, but there are other areas that play an important role as well. Exercising, eating well, spirituality, nature, altruism, and down-time are all important “secondary” areas that need to be full and thriving in order to feel the “happiness” that we all strive for. What are the 7 keys to happiness?
In modern societies, our daily habits are directly related to the four most common causes of death- cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. The WHO (2008) warned about a global epidemic of obesity throughout the world and the costs that would come with it. Correcting just one behavior -drinking, smoking, physical exercise, or diet- ensures that you live a longer and better life. Do you feel trapped in your bad habits? Do you have a hard time finding happiness outside of drinking, going out, eating, and other potentially dangerous habits? It might not seem like it, but healthy doesn’t always mean boring, and not everything good is unhealthy!
Changing your daily habits can have countless benefits on your physical and mental health. Unlike medication and therapy, there is no extra cost, no doctors appointments, and no stigma attached to making lifestyle changes. Healthy habits can also be “neuroprotectors” and help reduce the possibility of cognitive deterioration caused by aging.
Therapy, however, is a great option for many people, especially if it seems like the problems they’re having are more serious than lifestyle changes can help. If you’re thinking about going to therapy, it’s important to know if you should see a psychologist or a psychiatrist, as they have different specialties. Due to financial and institutional pressure, it’s become more common to have “express therapy” sessions, where the psychiatrist will prescribe more medication and spend less time treating the possible psychological symptoms that the patient is suffering from. Before seeing a psychotherapist, try to make some healthy habit changes and see where it takes you.
6 Healthy habits that improve well being
This healthy habit can help reduce the risk of a number of diseases and is therapeutic for a number of physical alterations from prostate cancer to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
A number of studies have shown how exercise can help reduce the risk of depression and some neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Anxiety, eating disorders, and depression have also been shown to be reduced through exercise, as well as chronic pain and some symptoms of schizophrenia.
Both aerobic and anaerobic exercise are effective, and it seems that sessions of 30 minutes or more of high intensity workouts are most beneficial.
This healthy habit provides benefits due to its varied effects, like the release of serotonin, which improves sleep, and endorphins. The psychological effects of exercise include improved self-esteem, self perception, interruption of negative thoughts, and relaxation.
There is scientific evidence that proves that a healthy, balanced diet can improve well-being. The ideal diet would be made up of the following:
A diet with a mix of multicolored fruits and vegetables
Fish like salmon has omega-3 acids. Avoid fish with high mercury levels like shark, tuna, etc.
Reduce caloric intake
There are some foods like fish, vegetables, fruit, and a variety of reduced animal fats that are neuroprotectors. There are currently studies being done to test how Vitamin D, folic acid, S-Adenosyl methionine, and fish fat supplements.
For thousands of years, people knew how to use nature as a source of health and wisdom. Shamans searched for places with abundant nature, yogis delved into the jungle, and Native Americans had their visions in nature. There have been studies conducted about how being in nature can improve subjective, cognitive, emotional attention, and spiritual well-being.
Nature also offers us silence that cities and highly populated areas can’t. The constant movement of human presence has cognitive, emotional, and psychosomatic consequences, which can produce chronic stress, attentional difficulties, and sleep and cardiovascular difficulties. Nature provides with the peace to find ourselves.
4. Social Relationships
Social relationships are a healthy habits that is central to physical and mental well-being. Rich relationships have been shown to reduce health risks from the flu to stroke, death, and multiple other pathologies. Good social habits are associated with happiness, higher quality of life, resilience, cognitive capacity, and even knowledge and wisdom.
These conclusions are based in the field of social neuroscience, which shows that we are independent creatures, made to relate and empathize with others, and equipped with brain systems like mirror neurons.
This healthy habit of maintaining healthy social relationships is very important, and our society today makes us more isolated than every. For example, Americans spend less time with their family and friends, fewer intimate relationships, and are less involved in groups and communities.
5. Recreational activities
Participating in activities just for fun is a healthy habits that helps improve well-being. From a behavioral point of view, people with mood disorders don’t show interest in recreational activities, and participating in these activities has been shown to raise interest. So, the lower you feel, the more important it is to do something you enjoy!
These activities can be anything, from playing games to seeing friends. It also helps improve social relationships and maturation in children. Better sense of humor, reduced stress, and improved mood and immune system are all consequences of taking part in activities that you enjoy.
6. Relaxation and stress management
While stress is universal and often impossible to avoid, there are ways to manage it. Activities like Tai Chi and Qui Gong are becoming more and more popular in modern societies, and have been associated with physical and psychological benefits related to depression and anxiety. Some western stress management techniques are self-hypnosis, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation. Other competitive techniques like yoga and meditation are practices by hundreds of thousands of people around the world, showing a variety of therapeutic effects.
Tips to promote healthy habits
- Do some kind of exercise and get some rest. You don’t have to go out an run a marathon, but getting moving for a few minutes each day will help you make it into a daily habit. And, who knows, maybe you’ll even start to like it!
- Reflect on your habits. Do you do anything too much (eating, drinking, etc.)? How do you feel after binging? Balance is key, and there’s time for everything.
- Slow down! Stress is the biggest cause of anxiety. If you’re starting to feel stressed, take a break and practice some stress relief techniques.
- Do something you life. Our passions are what keep us going, and your life can’t get in the way of having some time just for you.
- Spend time with family and friends.
Any questions? Feel free to leave me a comment below 🙂
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This article was originally written in Spanish by Xabi Ansorena
Molly is a writer specialized in health and psychology. She is passionate about neuroscience and how the brain works, and is constantly looking for new content from interesting sources. Molly is happy to give or take advice, and is always working to educate and inspire.