20 Natural Habits that Keep You Young from 20 Natural Habits that Keep You Young

20 Natural Habits that Keep You Young

Getting old doesn’t have to be degenerative. Small changes can lead to significant shifts that can immeasurably improve people’s health while intervening with the natural effects of aging.

The simple answer to what makes people feel young, physically and mentally, is nutrition, exercise, stress management, rest, hydration, inspiring work, and meaningful friendships, according to Dr. Roger Jahnke from Health Action Synergies and author of “The Healer Within.”

You already know not to smoke, form better eating habits, drink a lot of water and exercise more. These are the basics of longevity, but the reality is a little more complex and a lot more fun.

1. Meditate

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If John Kalinowski, life coach and mindfulness experts, had to point out to one thing that is the secret of staying young, it would be practicing mindfulness and meditation. “These are the most fundamental lifestyle changes because they influence everything else,” he adds. One study has found that mindful mediation practice can help fight insomnia and improve overall sleep quality.

2. You need more sleep. Period.

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“People will only be motivated to sleep more if they realize how important sleep is,” Kalinowski says. “Many people have convinced themselves that they don’t need it, but the research says otherwise.” Sleep affects hormones, disease susceptibility, and skin elasticity, to name a few. Among the most serious side effects of sleep deprivation is weight gain. There are many foods you can eat and things you can do before bed to have your best night’s sleep.

3. Step out of your comfort zone

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“It’s critical to your growth to step out of your comfort zone from time to time – the courage comes from shifting your perspective,” Kalinowski says. For example, learn to reframe those “out of your comfort zone” experiences as a positive instead of negative. Neuroscience has demonstrated that brain elasticity is encouraged by new things, according to Dr. Jahnke.

4. Change your routine

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Even in terms of exercise, our bodies become accustomed to a certain regimen after just a few weeks. “If we can make small adjustments to our routines every month or so, that will help keep things moving along,” Kalinowski says. In fact, studies have shown that happy marriages keep people healthier, and dull routines kill marriages faster than fighting.

5. Aim to start the day on a good note

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Starting the day on a good note is all about intention. “I plan out my day the night before, so I’m clear about what it will look like. I start off by eating a little breakfast, writing for a half hour or so, then I meditate, take a minute to remind myself what I’m grateful for, and then go to the gym, a yoga class, or muay thai,” Kalinowski says. Someone else’s ideal morning will probably look different. The key is to not start the day feeling frantic because that energy carries into the rest of the day, he adds.

6. Grow thick skin

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Having a thick skin is generally about loving yourself. “If you are really confident in who you are, then you can handle almost anything. As with everything else, confidence is a practice,” Kalinowski says. You can’t let everything get to you. Avoid needless suffering and build immunity to other people’s opinions and actions.

7. Handle stress like a champ

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“Stress is healthy until it’s not,” Kalinowski says. Many people thrive when they are under some amount of pressure, but chronic stress can be totally debilitating and a huge health risk. Apply a few tips to handle stress at work, which is usually the biggest culprit. The excessive tension and pressure will eventually take a toll on your physical and mental health with upset stomach, headaches or migraines being only a few of the possible side effects.

8. Socialize with friends, not coworkers

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“Socializing is probably best with friends who are not coworkers, just to maintain some work/life balance, because you will inevitably end up talking about work with coworkers,” Kalinowski says. This is not to say you should not be friendly to your coworkers – any socializing, with good supportive people, can be valuable. “We thrive on having a sense of community and belonging,” he adds.

9. Always focus on the bright side

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Focusing on the bright side is also a practice. “Create a daily gratitude journal where you think of five things you’re grateful for,” Kalinowski says. “Catch yourself when you’re stressed or worried, take a breath, and tell yourself that, one way or another, this experience will make you a better person.” Dr. Jahnke suggests adapting the “attitude of gratitude” – accept what can’t be changed and acknowledge what you’re thankful for.

10. Don’t be addicted to your phone

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You don’t need convincing that cell phones can be great. “But if they’re keeping you from being in the moment, then that’s when they become problematic,” Kalinowski says. “It’s the constant pull from all directions that can cause problems.” When you’re at work, be at work; when you’re at home, be at home; when you’re on your phone, be on your phone. “Just be present in whatever you’re doing and your life will flow much more smoothly,” he adds.

11. Spend time in parks

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Recent studies have shown that merely a walk in the park can calm the mind, while changing the way the brain works to improve mental health. According to science, people who spend time in parks cope better with stress, feel happier and have more self-esteem.

12. Cut down on sugar

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Consuming too much sugar unleashes a vicious cycle of health problems. Most Americans consume over three times what they should be, according to USDA, with teens and men munching on the largest amounts. The result is chaos, stress and overload for the body that can lead to both physical and mental illnesses.

13. Pay attention to your skin

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If you want to look younger, your skin has to be protected. “The single most important factor in protecting your skin is hydration,” Dr. Elizabeth Hale, spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation and board-certified dermatologist, says. Keep it glowing by drinking tea — instead of coffee — to slow down the wrinkles, according to a study; get enough sleep; and always applying sunscreen. “Ninety percent of premature skin aging is caused by overexposure,” she adds. UV rays penetrate clouds and windows, so sun damage is always possible if you’re not prepared.

14. Self-care

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Take care of yourself and not just when it comes to eating healthy and exercising more. “Practice self-care in finance,” Dr. Jahnke says, which can vary from saving money to being mindful about what you’re spending on. Self-care in relationships is also very important, he adds. This can mean getting out of stressful friendships.

15. Take a few minutes a day for a mind-break

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A 15-second mind-break is a lot more powerful than you think, according to Dr. Jahnke. Take a few seconds to adjust your posture, take a few deep breaths and shift your mind focus. These are called “the three treasures,” he adds. Also, set a few minutes for the same, but do something with your hands such as an ear massage. “Your hands and ears have reflexes to all organs and joints. […] You are able to shift your internal environment without leaving your chair.”

16. Stay accountable

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“Most people are not accountable to themselves,” Dr. Jahnke says. Have a coach or a friend, “that one person,” to whom you will keep a promise, he suggests. “Setting a goal in the absence of accountability often means the goal won’t be fulfilled.” This can spiral down to feeling depressed and like a victim, “which is a waste of time, energy and resources.”

17. Volunteer

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Research has shown that people find helping others very inspiring, Dr. Jahnke says. Helping others makes people feel happier, purposeful and self-confident, according to a York University study that included more than 700 people. Some were asked to be compassionate towards someone for 5-15 minutes a day. About six months later, they reported to be in a much better mood than those who were not helpful.

18. Learn new things

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Recent research has found that brain age decreases by 0.95 years for each year of education (and by 0.58 years for every daily flight of stairs climbed). So keep your mind occupied.

19. Alternate nostril breathing

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Alternate nostril breathing is a quick and calming way to restore balance, remove toxins, and  rejuvenate the nervous system. Practice it by opening and closing each nostril with the thumb and ring finger, and continue inhaling and exhaling from alternate nostrils. A few minutes a day will do. It also helps release accumulated tension and fatigue. You can see how in this video.

20. Stretch

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Whatever relaxes the muscles is a great habit. Consider a low-impact exercise and yoga as well. Breathe in and out through your nose for a relaxing effect on the nervous system. Stretching helps you deal with stress, improves flexibility and reduces pain.

20 Natural Habits that Keep You Young