The health and fitness industry is a confusing field to navigate. Sometimes it feels like it’s mostly clouded with opinions, incorrect facts, and questionable advice. This is why it can be hugely beneficial to just go back to the basics, and see what works for us from there. Start from the ground up. Here are five lifestyle habits you could build to facilitate a healthy lifestyle.
In Japan, Shinrin Yoku is an intrinsic part of healthcare and healing. In Japanese, ‘shinrin’ means forest and ‘yoku’ means bath. So, Shinrin Yoku directly translates to ‘bathing in the forest’ or ‘immersing ourselves in the forest.’ Shinrin yoku has a number of health benefits. Spending time in the forest can decrease the stress hormone, cortisol. As less as 15 minutes can make blood pressure drop, and improve mental clarity and focus.
You don’t have to be in a forest to practice shinrin yoku. It could just be a place that has trees or some greenery, maybe a nearby park. Or you could just take a walk around the neighborhood following these steps:
Leave behind any distractions, like your phone. Wander aimlessly, and leave all goals behind. Immerse yourself in the sensations that surround you and pay attention to the little things that you come across. Maybe find a comfortable spot to sit and observe yourself or your surroundings!
Meditation/ Mindfulness exercise
Mindfulness is familiarising yourself with the present moment. Meditation is just a type of mindfulness exercise, one of the many. Even shinrin yoku can be considered a mindfulness exercise, and meditation by extension. So, this means that meditation and its numerous benefits are just as accessible to someone who doesn’t think they can do it.
All it takes is to step back, for ten minutes, and familiarise yourself with the present moment. Don’t try to control your mind or thoughts; just observe them come and go, as if you were in a forest, watching all the animals and birds and insects going about their day.
Even the ‘no thoughts, head empty’ while waiting for your noodles to cook: that’s meditation! So, go for it. Clear your mind up. Swish your mental vacuum cleaner around your brain. Go on.
Our relationship with food
Eating healthy is an important part of being healthy. After all, we need food to live. And, it’s probably better to eat nutritionally most of the time than eat unhealthy foods a lot. But sometimes, the ‘eat healthy’ thinking can contribute to a certain pressure around food. It might not be a good idea to place a moral value on food and put it into categories of ‘good food’ and ‘bad food’. A lot of the time we suffer from food anxiety because of this weird sense of shame around eating certain foods, and it could lead to either eating less or more than our body needs.
But the thing is, one meal does not define your health. You don’t need to spend the whole time eating a pizza thinking about the calories, so much that you end up not even enjoying it. There’s mental progress we need to make as much as physical progress in terms of being healthy which is equally as important.
As long as we’re giving our body the nutrients it needs to function most of the time and eating our vegetables and fruits…why don’t we just enjoy a late pizza night with Netflix?
How to live longer
A recent study by Harvard revealed that people who follow these 5 lifestyle habits have a chance of prolonged life expectancy. At the age of 50, life expectancy was extended by 14 years for females and 10 years for males for those who followed these lifestyle habits rather than those who did not.
The lifestyle habits are fairly simple and low risk: never smoking, regular physical activity, a healthy weight, a healthy diet, and moderate alcohol consumption.
Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘yuj’, yoga means to ‘unite or integrate’. It is a way to focus on the mind, body, and breath. There are so many benefits – it can help with heart health, relaxes you, and helps manage stress. It boosts energy and decreases negative feelings.
You can find some easy poses for beginners here. So what are you waiting for? Incorporate these 5 lifestyle habits and take a positive step to improve your life!
About the Author: Ananya Ananth is a Media and Communication student at Manipal Institute of Communication, Manipal who writes, dances, and pets cats. Will be found vibing to music and instant coffee at all hours.