7 Tips for a Happy & Healthy Mind

#3 is a really interesting – and super easy – tip we hadn’t heard of until now. 

Photos: Instagram @rachaelfinch

Brush away the fickle fads with these tried-and-true tips that will bolster your physical and mental wellbeing.

1. LAUGH IT OFF

What’s the difference between in-laws and outlaws? Outlaws are wanted. Boom-tish! We can often forget to see the lighter side of life but tickling your funny bone could protect you from a heart attack. That’s the finding of a study by The University of Maryland School of Medicine in the US, which found a link between laughter and healthy blood vessel function. The researchers believe that 30 minutes of exercise three times a week and 15 minutes of laughter daily is good for the vascular system.

2. LOVE MORE

The secret to a long and healthy marriage? It’s gratitude, according to a study in the journal Personal Relationships.

Researchers from the University of Georgia in the US asked 468 married people about their approach to money, communication and gratitude and found the couples who showed the most appreciation for each other were the happiest. “Even if a couple is experiencing difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes,” lead author Allen Barton says.

3. EAT ’TIL YOU’RE 80% FULL

So say the people of Okinawa in Japan. The Okinawans – who call this calorie-control rule “hara hachi bu” – are famous for having the world’s longest life (and health) expectancy and low rates of heart disease and cancer. The secret to calorie control is to practise conscious eating, by chewing slowly and mindfully, until you’re 80 per cent sated. You also need to choose your food thoughtfully. The Okinawans favour veg, wholegrains, fruit, legumes (soy foods) and fish, with a limited amount of lean meat.

4. GET “OM” WITH IT

The practice of dates back thousands of years, and science has been uncovering the benefits ever since. A study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry showed meditation helped reduce stress in a group of people who were unemployed. After three days of intensive practice, they reported feeling more resilient in spite of being jobless. And in follow-up brain scans, the researchers discovered there was more activity in the parts of the participants’ brains related to focus and calm. New to meditation? Try an app such as Buddhify.

5. VEG OUT

Humble vegetables are healthy food superheroes thanks to their antioxidants and phytochemicals, which can lower your risk of stroke, type 2 , Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and much more. Accredited practising dietitian Sharon Natoli, of Food & Nutrition Australia, says: “When we look back at our first set of dietary guidelines from 1979, the advice to base a healthy diet on vegetables, fruit, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds has been a consistent recommendation.” It’s just that we now call it a ‘plant-based diet’.

6. STRIKE A POSE

Yoga is a natural complement to meditation, and its origins have been traced back to at least the 5th century BC. Aside from increasing flexibility and reducing stress, regular practice may help the body ward off disease. A 2013 Norwegian study, published in the journal Plos One, found that causes changes at a genetic level to boost immunity.

7. STEP TO IT

Walking is the most accessible form of exercise there is, and a long list of studies shows that just 30 minutes a day lowers your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer. “Walking is something our bodies are made to do,” personal trainer Andreas Lundin says. “It also improves our posture from sitting all day at work.” Lundin suggests catching up with a friend over an evening walk to increase your step tally.

Dancer Amrita Hepi shows you how to stretch at your desk.

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