I read a great article today on Forbes.com about how to make some mindset changes to improve your overall health. These are some great things to consider in your everyday habits. I have summarized David DiSalvo’s article here with some of my own opinions and suggestions that I am trying.
1. Change your “vacation can wait” mindset.
The “I need a vacation…” mindset can be something that goes months if not years before we actually take one. The workplace will do just fine without you for a couple weeks. Vacations may lower risk of metabolic syndrome, a condition strongly linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
2. Shift your breathing focus.
Focusing more closely on our breathing comes with a list of science-backed health benefits, including lower heart rate, blood pressure, reduced stress response, and even a boosted immune system. It’s a mindset because it’s about shifting our mental focus onto something we’re already doing, and choosing a simple technique to do it more effectively.
3. Think about getting outside.
Spending time outside is good for our physical health and mental well-being. It doesn’t even take much time, just a couple hours per week. I have found that getting outside, hiking or even a short walk on my lunch break can help me reset and changes my overall perspective compared to before I went out.
4. Rethink your schedule to work in walking.
Walking has several health benefits such as improved cardiovascular and brain health. It can be as easy to incorporate into your schedule as adding a reminder to your Outlook calendar to “Go for a walk.”
5. Get strategic about socializing.
Doses of socializing have been linked to better stress management, which is linked to cardiovascular health, cognitive health, and lower rates of anxiety and depression. Don’t cloister yourself in your office, instead make sure you are seeking out times during your day to socialize with co-workers.
6. Adjust your attention reactions.
Your time and attention are commodities with a price tag nowadays. Managing your reactions to an email or a notification from your phone will help you manage unhealthy levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These are immune system dampeners and could negatively affect your health in the long-term. You can decide how you respond to these stress triggers. Doing this effectively will help you manage your overall health.
7. Decide to work less.
A recent study found a link between working fewer hours and a lower risk of stroke. Ask yourself “Why am I working so many hours?” Is it the work culture you find yourself in? Is it the “expectation” your job has of you? Is that something you want to keep up long-term? Begin discussions with your employer about how to get to a reasonable work schedule that works for everybody. In some cases, looking for a new job may be the only course of action to ensure your long-term health.
8. Reconsider doing lunch.
Going out for lunch is convenient, delicious and gets you out of the office. The drawback is less control over what you eat. When you can plan out your lunch ahead of time with something you pack for yourself, you are empowered to take care of your own health. You can also take the lunch you packed on a walk to a nearby park to triple-up with three items on this list.
9. Focus on purpose.
Letting a sense of purpose guide you is a crucial change to mindset for many of us. This gives you the control to what you do and why you are doing it. The health benefits for this include lower levels of inflammation, which leads to a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, and other conditions ranging from diabetes to depression.
10. Beware restraint bias.
Restraint bias is a mental miscue that occurs when we think we’ve reached a certain level of success and can take the pressure off the mental brakes and expose ourselves to more temptation. Instead, constant vigilance against restraint bias is necessary. Restraint bias has the ability to undermine and undo any good health “work” you may done such as exercise or changes to your diet or positive lifestyle changes you’ve made.
11. Think laughter.
Laughter is terrific medicine with lots of health benefits. Look for ways to laugh more. Go see a comedy at the movie theater, watch a favorite funny show, listen to a comedian you enjoy, instead of doing something unhealthy like grabbing junk food or heading to a bar.
12. Let your mind let things go.
Develop the discipline of letting things go, especially things that you have no control over. This serves to decrease the cumulative stress response. The unmanaged stress response is like biochemical baggage that weighs you down more and more over time. This weight eventually will compromise other parts of your health. Dwelling, ruminating, holding onto things that you can’t control or change is a major trigger for an exacerbated stress response and it becomes a vicious cycle that refuels itself until you let go.
The full article on Forbes.com can be found here. The article itself has lots of helpful links to some of the studies referenced by DiSalvo in the original article.