10 habits for healthier, happier life

‘Blue Zones’ expert Tony Buettner to speak at Go Confidently on June 18


This content was originally published on BlueZones.com. Published here courtesy of Blue Zones and Tony Buettner.

From our research in the healthiest and happiest places in the world, here are some habits to take up in 2018 —they’ll enrich your life and boost your health and happiness levels too.

Instead of focusing on an outcome like “lose 20 pounds” or “exercise every day,” focus on acquiring life-enhancing new habits. We are creatures of habit and products of our surroundings, so optimizing our environments and routines will yield a much higher rate of success.

Don’t try all of the things below at one time. Choose a few, make them habits, and revisit when they’re part of your daily routine.

Good news, you don’t have to ditch your morning coffee

In original Blue Zones areas, people drink up to two or three cups of black coffee per day! The American Heart Association found that consuming coffee, both caffeinated and decaf, was associated with a lower risk of total mortality.

However, if your morning joe is filled with cream and sugar, then slowly weaning off the sugar and switching to a non-dairy milk is a new habit to take up this year. To really Blue Zones your coffee or tea routine, make coffee or afternoon tea dates with friends or family to chat, laugh and get that face-to-face time that’s so important to health and happiness.

Get a dog

Furry friends like cats and dogs help with loneliness and companionship and happiness, but getting a dog also encourages people to walk often and regularly.

Invest in smaller plates

To avoid meal stuffing, use 10n-inch plates. Research shows that when you go from a 12-inch plate to a 10-inch plate, you end up eating 23 percent less.

Eat more beans and pulses

Instead of focusing on what you’re going to cut out of your diet, start by focusing on what you need to add into your meals.

Beans are the No. 1 longevity food and a staple in all five Blue Zones regions. A cup of beans are standard among the world’s longest-lived people, so stock up on chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, soybeans and all other beans and pulses. You can enjoy them in hummus, soups, stews and salads.

Know and nurture your purpose

Having a purpose in life is a proven link to living longer. What’s the most likely demographic to live past 100? Women who’ve had children after 40.  “Embrace your ikigai,” as they say in Japan. “Ikigai” is your reason to get up every morning.

Create downshifting, stress-relieving habits

Chronic stress leads to inflammation and is the foundation for every age-related disease, including Alzheimer’s and dementia. Centenarians in the Blue Zones regions of the world have effective ways to manage stress on a daily basis. For Sardinians, this means a glass of wine and a chat with friends at the end of the day. For Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, this means a quiet nature walk during Sabbath. As an alternative to downshifting at happy hour, try meditating. Even just 10 minutes each day can improve your outlook and lower stress.

“Downshift” is one of the Blue Zones Power 9, the lifestyle habits shared by the longest-lived people on earth.

Enjoy wine at 5

People in four original Blue Zones areas drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Studies show moderate drinkers have a lower chance of mortality and an increased chance of maintaining cognitive abilities into old age.

“Wine at 5” is one of the Blue Zones Power 9, the lifestyle habits shared by the longest-lived people on earth.

Find a new hobby or join a group

Get a new hobby or nurture one you already have by joining a meetup or community group. It can be a book club, starting a garden, or a walking club. Even two hours of bowling can burn 490 calories, and having fun will give you a healthy happiness boost too.

Sit down to eat meals with family and friends

The happiest kids in the world, Dutch children, sit down to eat breakfast with their family more regularly than any other kids in the world.

“Loved Ones First” is one of the Blue Zones Power 9, the lifestyle habits shared by the longest-lived people on earth.

Get enough sleep

Do your best to always sleep 7.5 hours a night, which helps keep your immune system functioning at its best. People who sleep 6 hours a night are 30 percent less happy than people who sleep more.

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