Level Up Your Longevity Game

Level Up Your Longevity Game

When it comes to better health, we often focus on the physical aspects. But around these parts, you know, that I am fully invested in focusing on our mental, emotional and social wellbeing as part of our holistic happiness and health. When we think about living a long, kickass life, we can become hyper focused on our diet and fitness. But what if the key to unlocking a long, healthy, and fabulous life wasn't just about kale smoothies and squats (although, those have their perks)? Buckle up, folks, because I'm here to drop some truth bombs about the under-appreciated power of mental and social well-being for longevity.

While that #fitspo feed might have you convinced six-pack abs are the holy grail of health, research suggests there's a more holistic approach to living a long and vibrant life. Enter the Blue Zones – those happy little pockets of the world where folks routinely crack triple digits. Surprise, surprise – their secret sauce isn't just about quinoa bowls (though, they probably have a killer recipe). Studies of these communities reveal a powerful link between strong social connections, a sense of purpose, and – you guessed it – a long and healthy life [1].

Here's the deal: chronic stress, loneliness, and feeling like a hamster on a wheel wreak havoc on your body. Stress hormones like cortisol can weaken your immune system, up your risk of chronic diseases, and basically make you feel like a shriveled prune from the inside out [2]. But here's the good news: strong social bonds, a sense of belonging, and feeling like you matter are like magic for your well-being. Studies show that having close relationships can boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, and even help you cope with stress more effectively [3, 4].

Think of it like this: your mental and emotional well-being are the sunshine and water that nourish your amazing bod. Without them, even the most disciplined diet can only take you so far. So, ditch the solo hustle and find your tribe! Join that book club, reconnect with old friends, volunteer for a cause you care about. Because not only will you be building a support system that lifts you up, but you might just be adding years (and laughter!) to your life. I've talked about this at length on the HCD podcast, and on the blog

Level Up Your Longevity Game: Action Steps for Mental Wellness

Now that you know mental well-being is your best kept secret, let me share some actionable steps you can take right now towards living a more holistically healthy life:

  • Find Your People: Am I becoming a broken record? We are social creatures, and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people is a happiness power move. Like HUGE game changer! Make plans with friends who make you snort-laugh, join a social club that sparks joy, or volunteer for a cause you care about. Bonus points for activities that get you moving and interacting with others – think dance classes, group hikes, or a community sports team.

  • Mindfulness Magic: Chronic stress is the ultimate buzzkill for your well-being. Carve out some daily "me-time" to chill and de-stress. Meditation apps like Headspace or Calm are great for beginners, or simply try some deep breathing exercises or a relaxing yoga flow. My new faves are meditation walks. I have a Spotify playlist full of guided meditation walks. Sometimes it's hard for me to be still for so long, like traditional meditation teaches, so moving but still meditating and focusing really has helped me.

  • Sit with Your Sh*t: If you know me at all, you know I'm not going to preach gratitude journaling without rage writing. If you're unfamiliar with this concept, I also like to call it "sit with your sh*t" and basically, it's just calling out toxic positivity and understanding that in order to move fully into gratitude we have to sit with our crapola and deal with it. One way to process this is to rage journal, which is exactly what it sounds like. You just straight write down all the crap that is frustrating you or bringing negativity into your life. Don't hold back. Once your done you can delete it (if it's digital) or just tear up your journal page and toss it. It's a method that is super cathartic and it works. More importantly, after you're done with this you can move into a sincere, more authentic place of gratitude. 

  • Gratitude Goodies: Taking a moment to appreciate the good stuff in your life is a powerful way to shift your mindset and boost happiness. Start a gratitude journal and write down 3 things you're grateful for each day, big or small. It could be anything from a killer cup of coffee to a supportive friend or a stunning sunset. Important disclaimer: if you struggle to find even 1 thing a day to be grateful for, it's ok. Start small and look for one thing a week, two things a week, daily etc. None of this should make you feel worse about life. 

  • Embrace the Power of "No": We all have a finite amount of emotional energy. Don't be afraid to politely decline requests that drain your time and zap your happiness. Learning to set boundaries is an act of self-love and protects your mental well-being for the long haul. It's also ok to say, not now. Maybe you're presented an opportunity that isn't necessarily a no, but it's a not right now. You can revisit it later, when you are in a clearer mental state. 

  • Get Creative, Unleash Your Inner Child: Remember that spark of joy you had as a kid? Reconnect with your playful side! Take a painting class, write a silly song, or dust off your old roller skates. Engaging in activities you enjoy is a fantastic way to reduce stress and boost your mood. This is what dancing is for me. I love to dance and sing at the top of my lungs and it reminds me of being young when things were just easier.

  • Prioritize Sleep, Because Beauty Sleep is for Realz: Sleep is QUEEN. Getting enough sleep helps with EVERYTHING in life. Your outlook is better. You are less likely to binge eat. You want to get out and move and live and experience life! When you're sleep-deprived, your body goes into stress mode, wreaking havoc on your physical and mental health. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality shut-eye each night. Create a relaxing bedtime routine, ditch the screens before bed, and turn your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary.

  • Fuel Your Body with Goodness: What you eat directly impacts your mood and energy levels. Focus on a balanced diet rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Don't skimp on the good fats and protein either – they're essential for brain and for the love of all things holy, DRINK MORE WATER. Water, literal cure all for life. It's beautiful! My fave tip for drinking more water is that I slice a lemon and I freeze the lemon slices to use as ice cubes. I keep them in a Ziplock bag in the freezer. I know. I'm a genius. 

So, the next time you're feeling burnt out and uninspired and you're pulling your sluggish little ass through life feeling all woe is me, remember: a healthy life isn't just about the food on your plate or the reps you crank out at the gym. It's about nurturing your mind, your heart, and your connections. Now get out there and rewrite your story – the long one with the happy ending! I'm always here cheering for you!

Want to find more good stuff just like this blog post? Guess what? I've got a podcast!

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  1. https://www.bluezones.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Nat_Geo_LongevityF.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538239/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/emotional-wellbeing/social-connectedness/index.htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921311/
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