By Elizabeth K. Dawson, Holistic Health Coach
Do you ever read about those societies that have the ‘secrets to longevity’ (like inner Sardinia) and are racking up centenarians like crazy – and you start to think that, by comparison, your future might be bleak? Well, what if I told you to stop being such a sad panda and get started on gaining longevity points right now.
With these six essentials below, it’s not completely necessary to relocate! What those societies have are not ‘secrets’ as much as models for good living that you can focus in on right now. Festive and family-oriented, December is the winter month that you can choose to put to its best use: taking time to implement some good habits of the longest-lived folks on earth.
And may I add: this is not the month to drag yourself to endless events that drain you, despite the list of kind invitations. Rather, t’is the season to be choosy about how you’re going to spend it!
If you truly want to extend your health and life like the Ikarians of Greece, here are some ways you can start, based on evidence from longevity experts:
1) Start over with family dinners. Use the season to resume togetherness over home-cooked meals with your loved ones. If you have children, commit to a daily or weekly sit-down dinner at home, uninterrupted by TV or electronics. And – *gulp* – just talk. (this can add years to your life expectancy and that of your family).
2) Experiment with what rejuvenates you. Select 3-4 free mornings this month to wake up and ask yourself what would bring you energy and joy that day. On these precious mornings, don’t do anything you think you “should” do (…. like laundry) – instead, focus in on what you want to do and give yourself full permission to do so.
3) Find your people, a sense of community. Commune with people who support your values and help you feel good about your life. Make a point to spend time with these people this month!
4) Be kind to your credit [cards]. Financial overwhelm will bring you down, and that’s the polar opposite point of the holidays. Do the kids or your sibling need all that extra stuff? And do you need to spend all your holiday hours going from parking lot to parking lot? Keep the spirit of the holidays at heart and buy simple, meaningful gifts for those you love. Give yourself a reasonable limit and stop there. Your friends and family will enjoy the relaxed version of you, as well as your thoughtful gifts, and you won’t believe how easy and good this feels.
5) Don’t skimp on vacation, and let go of any guilt about the time off. Down-shifting is essential to curbing the long-term effects of stress. You’ve worked hard to enjoy your time off, and the time to rest and relax will translate to big gains in staying healthy much longer into your life – preventing chronic illnesses that result from stress.
6) And finally, a tip about food and eating… With tasty spreads stretching out before you, here’s a simple tip to keep you satisfied and healthy:
First, eat. Eat and enjoy, particularly the homemade seasonal delights. Eat slowly to savour your food.
When you’re 80% full, stop. According to Dan Buettner, a longevity expert, that 20% could be the difference between a healthy weight or weight gain. Remind yourself that you can eat again whenever your hunger returns. This will also help your body devote energy to other essential functions than constant digestion, and you’ll weather the holidays feeling much better than if you gorge yourself.
If you have specific questions, please inquire with me by phone or email at Innate Health.
Wishing you a happy holiday!
Elizabeth K. Dawson
Holistic Health Coach & Consultant