Living a long and happy life is something that many people strive for. Every day can bring unexpected happiness on the path of life, as well as detours and blockages. You can’t predict the future – let alone how you’ll age – but you can practice self-care to the best of your ability.
There are many habits you can adapt to routinely feed your mind and nourish your body, keeping it young and healthy. After all, a healthy lifestyle is a happy lifestyle, and it will help you live the long and strong life you deserve. The key to living longer is living better. For this, you need to learn some secrets of the mind and body to live longer.
These secrets will increase the self-esteem that you give to your body and your mind. You might think it’s all about exercising every day, getting plenty of sleep, sunbathing, taking your vitamin supplements, eating nuts and seeds, doing yoga, or even taking frequent sauna baths. Although all of these practices have proven to be quite advantageous in promoting good health and longevity, there is much more to life.
First of all, where you live and how you live are the two quintessential ingredients of longevity. According to amazing research published in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine , there are 5 places around the world where a group of anthropologists, scientists, and demographers found that people live for more than 100 years. You heard right! These “fountain of youth” places even have a name: they are called “Blue Zones”.
Dan Buettner, CEO of Blue Zones LLC, and his group identified Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Ikaria (Greece), Loma Linda (California, USA) and Nicoya (Costa Rica) as having the highest percentage of centenarians (100-year-olds) thriving and living life to the full.
There are 9 common factors that the research team discovered in all individuals living in these zones, which are called the ” Power 9 ” factors. Interestingly, the Danish Study found that only 20% of the average individual’s life expectancy has to do with their genes, and the remaining 80% has to do with their lifestyle. In the Blue Zone, many individuals are able to live into their 90s, some without any chronic disease. It’s amazing, right? Let’s take a look at the 9 power factors you can add to your own daily routine to promote a longer and better life.
1. You need a “life plan”, that is, a purpose for each day
Blue Zone centenarians have a sense of purpose, a reason why they get up every day. There are even names for it. “Plan de vida” is used in Nicoya (Costa Rica) and in Ikigagi (Japan). If you have a job, it is clear that you are busy every day. But if you don’t work, it’s important that you spend your time doing some things that make you feel good and that you are responsible for. Take up new hobbies, sign up for an enriching class, or give some of your time to your local community as a volunteer. If you don’t have a furry friend like a dog or cat in your life, consider taking one into your home. Set yourself some goals and get to it. It is important that your body and your soul feel responsible, because what you do is totally important.
2. Relax and have some wine
All those studied (with the exception of the Adventists) habitually drink 1 or 2 glasses of alcohol a day, almost always wine. So you should enjoy some wine with your meal, or better yet plan a weekly happy hour or two to enjoy with your family and friends.
3. Choose healthy eating options
Most of the centenarians studied have several staple foods in common, such as many lentils, black beans, and fava beans. They eat meat, and the most common is pork, which they enjoy only 5 times a month, and only between 75 and 100 grams per serving. This may mean a big overhaul of your usual meals, but focus on the potential prize: a healthier you and a longer life.
4. Portion control is key
All these people only eat a light meal late in the day or first thing in the evening, and not both. This is probably a major lifestyle change, but with a pretty big payoff, as this study reveals. That late-night snack or pizza order is definitely worth cutting out, isn’t it?
5. Know when to slow down
Everyone has stress, including the observed centenarians. The difference lies in the effectiveness with which each of them copes with their worry or anxiety. The study revealed that they all take time to decompress in some way. Sardinians enjoy happy hour. Others console themselves with prayer or a nap. In Japan, it is customary to reduce tension by remembering your ancestors. Think about the method that suits you best. As long as the method of relieving stress is something that you are going to maintain on a constant basis, do it.
6. Go outside, walk and start doing more things
Centenarians find themselves in environments that encourage them to move naturally. Gardens are quite popular, and they don’t rely on modern conveniences to get things done indoors or out. Try different ways to improve some of your own daily tasks, it can be a fun challenge to switch things up! If you can plant a garden, you’ll save a ton of money at the grocery store and have healthy home-grown vegetables available to prepare and enjoy.
7. Have faith, whatever it seems to you personally
Almost all centenarians have their own religious community. The study indicates that participating in a religious service once a week increases life expectancy by between 4 and 14 years. If you profess a religion that you have abandoned, perhaps you can recover it. If not, explore your options and find something that might work better for you.
8. Prioritize your family
The observed firmly believe that their family is the priority. Elderly parents and even grandparents are always around, if they don’t live at home, showing that child mortality and illness rates are also decreasing. They are also married, potentially increasing lifespan by 3 years. The children receive a lot of love and dedication, which favors the care of the elderly parents in the future.
Although families are now more dispersed than ever, it has never been easier to contact loved ones through text messages, WhatsApp, Zoom, etc. Be sure to plan time in your day and week to spend time with your family and loved ones, no matter what.
9. Surround yourself with supportive and helpful friends
Another common denominator is surrounding yourself with friends who are on the same page when it comes to making good, healthy choices. Okinawans believe in moais, which are 5 friends for life. Supportive friendships encourage healthy decisions and actions.
Choose wisely the friends you go out with, because time is very valuable. Consider deep cleaning and cutting toxic relationships you may have, and never hesitate to welcome new ones. Life is too short, and we try to make it longer!