Thursday, 8 April 2010

15 Tips to Lead a More Healthy and Less Stressful Life

I wrote this list about a year ago to motivate myself to follow a more healthy life-style. Since then, I added few more items as I learned new tips. Somehow later, I failed to follow my own advice. I hit myself on the head to start again. Then, I failed again. And now I blog about this list to make sure I can stay committed - or hopefully so.

I shared these few tips with Jeffrey too. He acknowledges these are important things to do - that he too wants to start to lead a more healthy and less stressful life. But he failed miserably (much more than I did). I reminded him but saw him failed again. Few days ago, when his health is on the verge of falling apart, he said he will commit again. I said "Let's see". He reminded me about my post "Does it take a lot to give words of encouragement to people you love?". I apologized. He asked me to blog about the list. I remember I wrote the list somewhere in my notes. Maybe it will help to remind him again as he always read my blog.

So, here is the list. You probably know most of these, but just to remind you again.

1. Get enough sleep.

Remember, it is important to get enough rest. Our bodies need to be "shutdown" (I do not mean total shutdown) to recuperate and regenerate. If you are constantly deprived of sleep, you behave differently - groggy, short-tempered, panicky. This affects you and others as well.

2. Sleep and wake up early

For the same number of hours of sleep, sleeping and waking up early is healthier than sleeping and waking up late. Also, when you wake up early, you can start the day without rushing.

While it is important to maintain a consistent sleep pattern, do allow some exceptions sometimes especially on weekends. After all, you should enjoy the freedom of life too. This is not much a healthy tip, but I think it works for me to keep me happy.

3. Learn how to sleep well

Maybe you lay awake for several hours before you can fall asleep. Maybe you toss and turn in your bed during sleep. Maybe you dream a lot in your sleep, making you feel like you have not really slept. Maybe you wake up and still feel very tired. Any of these mean you are not getting enough of good quality sleep.

Actually this is the problem with your mind. While you want to "shutdown" your body, you need to first shutdown your mind ( a good link here). Practice clearing your mind before you sleep. Put all your problems away. I also try listening to some music that purportedly make me sleep more soundly. I think it works sometimes because I feel more refresh during the day.

4. Eat healthy and on time.

Your diet is important - more vegetables, fruits, fiber, less meat, less sugar, etc. in your daily meals. Eat on time, eat less portions but more frequently.

Also, drink your coffee without sugar. I am coffee lover- I cannot do away with coffee. So, the best way I can do is to try to keep away from sugar if I can. Plus, if you are coffee lover, you should love the taste of coffee without sugar.

5. Eat supplements consistently

This is the easiest thing you can do. Add supplements to your shopping list and then just take 1 minute everyday to pop the pills down your throat.

Before I consistently take supplements, I get sick quite often. While I believe supplements are important, some supplements are overly priced and overrated. Thus, I do not think you need to eat very expensive supplements to be healthy. I take Vitamin C and Evening Primrose Oil everyday. They are not very expensive. But I do take bird nest once in a while - that is expensive, but it keeps my body heat up so that I do not feel cold easily. Plus, it supposes to give me better complexion - which I definitely hope so!

6. Exercise

If you say you do not have time for exercise, you are just making excuses! You know you can "make time" for it. It depends on whether you want to or not. Even Barack Obama said he will commit to his weekly gym hours despite the heavy job of overseeing the whole country. You may dread to go to exercise, but trust me, once you do it and keep the routine, you feel much greater than you ever feel before.

I find it hard to commit myself to exercise too. But every time after I finish my session at the gym, I feel so great, so fresh and even my complexion is better - this work faster than bird nest! I find exercise also tests my perseverance - to keep to the exercise routine and even to push my limit further during the exercise.

By the time I finish compiling this list and writing this post, I have gone to the gym 2 times in this week. I feel great and a sense of achievement for keeping to my commitment.

7. Start and maintain a detoxify program

I found this video and article a month ago. I think it is cheap and effective ways to start. I think you should not waste your money on commercial detoxification products before you try this.

8. Get back to nature

Go to lake, forest, garden and any other natures. Have a walk or jog outside (exercise and nature is good combination). If you do not want to exercise, maybe have a picnic, sit down to read a book or just do nothing- except to breath in the fresher air and calm your mind.

9. Give yourself a break from the technology.

Give yourself a break from the technology gadgets and the noise from them once in a while. Close your laptops, computers, and TV - you do not need them all the times. Have a quieter moment for yourself. Light a candle and burn some aroma oil.

Also, you are not on call 24/7. If every time your phone ring and you jump to answer it, you are leading much a stressful and rigid life. Give yourself a break, you do not need to answer all calls immediately. You can always call back later. I know this is getting on some nerves of my friends and family, but sorry - I need peace of my minds sometimes. I sometimes forget to call back too. I apologize for this.

Last week, I saw a couple in a coffee shop. Once they sat down and ordered their coffee, they went into their "silence" mode to "interact" with their own iPhones - all the while (in about an hour) I never see the couple talk to each others - and they are certainly not mad at each other. I find this disturbing and wondering whether we are spending too much time in technology gadgets rather than with people, especially those whom we love dearly.

10. Meditate and start on your spiritual journey.

I am not very religious, but I believe in God and all religions which teach us good things. I believe spiritual practices are very important in our life.

Spiritual practices, including meditation, prayer and contemplation, are intended to develop an individual's inner life; such practices often lead to an experience of connectedness with a larger reality: a more comprehensive self; other individuals or the human community; nature or the cosmos; or the divine realm. Spirituality is often experienced as a source of inspiration or orientation in life. It can encompass belief in immaterial realities or experiences of the immanent or transcendent nature of the world.

11. When you are working, be productive.

When you are working, focus on being productive. Do not chat with friends, read your horoscope, check your personal emails and do other non-work related stuffs. If you are productive during working hours, you can actually leave on time but you still achieve a lot more than others. Leave work on time for at least 3 days a week - this means you can work overtime for 2 days a week if you have to.

Please do not be those lazy bums who are so adamant to insist of leaving on time each days even though there are tonnes of work to do. While you need to keep a balance between work and life, you have certain responsibilities towards your company and even to yourself to maintain high quality in your work. So, if there is really a need for you to work extra hours - there is really no harm for this.

Having a less stressful life does not mean you have to deliver mediocre works. Never settle for mediocrity.

12. Plan and do things in advance.

On each night, take some times to reflect the day - what happen, what had you learn, any mistake that you can correct? Always plan for the next day. Even when you are having a hard times or going through a crisis, planning and living one day at a time can work out well. This is most important even if you have no idea what you want in life or what can happen to you in the next minutes. Even planning the next few hours are good enough.

If you are more blessed, then you can plan your vacation in advance, plan your family time, plan to have your own personal time. Even put these in your work calendar - just mark you are busy.
Plan for next week at the end of each weeks. Plan for next year, plan for next 3 years, and next 10 years. Keep in mind also things do not always happen according to plan. Thus, it is important to have backup plans as well. And be flexible (note item #16 on the list)

On your job, do your reports and time sheet in advance. Do not wait until the last minutes before submission.

13. Do self-talk and focus on what you want

We all know about self-talk - how important to have a positive image of ourselves. We are all living in a world where most people are focusing on negative sides of us- you are lazy, you have not done enough, you are fat, you only think about yourself, you are stupid!

While you need to acknowledge your own weaknesses, you also need to believe and remind yourself this - you do have self-worth and deserve to be happy. So, say this to yourself every morning when you look into the mirror. And don't depend on other people to make you happy!

If you are an unorganized person, say to yourself in your self-talk - "I am an organized person." Focus on what you want to be.

14. Spend times to improve yourself. Embrace Change.

You need to constantly improve yourself and learn new things. In the book "A Class with Drucker" by William A. Cohen, Peter Drucker said this- If you keep doing what worked in the past, you're going to fail.

People or companies that cling to their past successes will eventually fail, sometimes in a spectacular way. Change is inevitable if you are going to stay successful. Be ready to turn on a dime and abandon everything that has made you what you are. Better yet, be a forward thinker and create your own changes and your own future.

So, if you think you do not need to improve because you are already good enough - you are terribly wrong.

I find that we can learn a lot of things from book , from the Internet, from observing people, from others who are willing to teach us and even from those who may be lesser than us in anyway. But learning also means we need to put things we learn into action.

15. Be flexible.

In Happiness in Hard Times, by Andrew Matthew (picture included) , this is the advice on being flexible.
Trying to control the world and judging everyone in it wears you out. Don't argue with what has already happened. Roll with the punches, enjoy life's surp

I can write a whole new posting on being flexible because I learn a lot from my own experience. When you are angry and upset when things do not turn out the way you want - when things get delayed, people make blunders, people cutting queue, people breaking their promises, etc. - you are disrupting your own peace of minds and damaging your own health. In most times, you also make the people besides you to be unhappy because of your sullen mood and rage.

I am also guilty - I am angry when things turn out badly. But my anger is more inwards. Instead of straight away lashing out at people and then forget about it, things may boil inside for few days and I harbor resentment towards people who cause me the pain. Now, I learn to let go.

Finally, your mindset and behaviors also count a lot!

I can start a whole new list on this because begin healthy involves having a healthy mindsets and behaving in an appropriate manner. Following are important to work on:

* Have faith in things larger than us.
* Look for good things in our life and be grateful.
* Forgive people - forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
* Practice detachment - detach does not mean you do not care, you can care greatly but be detached from the outcome. Do the best you can do and then let be and let go.
* (the list goes on....)

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