How can you improve your own well-being? Here are five non-intuitive lifestyle tweaks that can dramatically improve your life –Laugh more, meditate, learn to forgive and let go, connect with nature, and get your hormones checked for goodness sake!
Let me explain:
1. Laugh, no joke! I’ve met people that simply don’t laugh, smile or have a sense of humor. That is stressful to the mind and body since laughter and smiling have been researched and correlated with stronger immunity and better mental health. This is why I have prescribed comedies to patients over the years or have them practice smile therapy by looking into the mirror for 10 minutes daily and forcing themselves to smile. You cannot be in a bad mood when you’re smiling, unless you’re the Joker. Now I have you laughing!
2. Meditate. This has become more prevalent in our culture in recent decades after it has been practiced for centuries in India and other Asian cultures. Meditation doesn’t mean shaving your head and wearing a bright orange robe either. My wife went to Thailand years ago wanting to learn how to calm her overactive brain. She met with a young monk wearing a robe and shaven head. Luckily, my wife came back with her hair, but still was at a loss about meditation. I meditate by being still in a quiet place whether it’s in my bathroom, backyard, playing gong/relaxing music (not gangsta rap) or just lying in bed. I give myself those moments to release negativity from the day by focusing on a positive thought — peace, joy, laughter, nothingness — for a few minutes. This quiet action helps reduce blood pressure, blood sugars and cortisol to lower our mental and physical stress. You don’t need a mat, beard or robe, just a quiet space outdoors, indoors or wherever, to be alone daily to push that delete button in our mind. My wife finally found her meditation in cooking, her “ashram” is in the kitchen and her incense is the aroma of basil. Find your meditative place and feel yourself experiencing more joy.
3. Forgiveness and letting go. This is BIG! If you think kale and Pilates is important, letting go of past grievances, hatred, grudges, emotional toxins, everything that keeps our hearts and heads calloused with anger toward family members, friends, colleagues, whomever, letting your soul detox will dramatically improve your wellbeing. How can it not?
Our mind is connected to our body. I have seen in my own family and patients, who hold on to toxic thoughts and emotional baggage, suffer from physical maladies that never seem to end. Forgiveness can be practiced in solitude without any form of confrontation. It has helped me reconcile past misgivings and toxic relationships. Thinking of the people in my life that I harbored bad feelings for, I would repeat in my head daily “I forgive you so and so…” until I no longer felt a negative connection.
Over time, you start to feel lighter and more positive. Negative feelings affect our health that not kale nor any exercise routine can fix. We need to allow ourselves to let go of toxic thoughts and feelings because they harm us more than the person on the other end. Lastly, forgiveness doesn’t mean having to restart a relationship with that particular person, it just means you no longer allow that person to ruin your day or health.
4. Connect with nature. This means putting your electronic devices down and surrounding yourself with a view of the mountains, the smell of your garden, a walk among nature, a trip to the beach (when possible), anything that gets you out of your walls and away from your car or computer monitor.
I believe that our digital life has detached us from the benefits of being outdoors. We are more enclosed than ever with virtual worlds rather than experiencing the energy of the universe available to us outside. The more detached we are from nature, the more detached we are from health. Make it a point to disconnect from your digital life to reconnect with the energy outside. And do this daily.
5. Check your hormones: Hormones become disrupted by processed foods, which contain what are known as endocrine destructive chemicals, stress and lack of sleep. Our hormones get hijacked from all these factors which then make us tired, fat, unmotivated, emasculated if you’re a man, and depressed.
In my practice, I have seen younger and younger men with low testosterone, in their 30’s, from eating poorly, noticing less muscle, more body fat, decreased libido, anxiety, man boobs and even depression. Menopause and andropause affect people differently but the key is to get your levels evaluated by a wellness healthcare provider to help you reach physiologic normal levels with BHRT (bio-identical hormone replacement therapy), or nutritional counseling to help you normalize your hormones like testosterone, thyroid and cortisol to find physiologic balance to help reverse symptoms and prevent disease like osteoporosis, cancer and diabetes.