Not every morsel of healthy living advice for living a longer and more fruitful life contain words and phrases like “eat better,” “exercise more,” and “blood pressure.” There are actually lots of things you can be doing every day—from changing the way you sit to making sure you’re regularly flossing—that can actually have a meaningful impact on your lifespan.
According to Kien Vuu, MD, a noted longevity expert, your mindset and mental health have a major impact on how long you live, and there’s a big to-do list he offers his clients for making changes to their lifestyles for the sake of not only their mental health and emotions but also their longevity. Read on for a few of them. And for more ways to live a longer and healthier life, don’t miss The One Sleep Trick That Can Change Your Life, Say Doctors.
In a new interview with The Beet, Vuu advised that it’s important for you to get 20 to 30 minutes of natural sunlight every morning. If you do so while exercising, even better. “I let the natural sunlight into my eyes and skin because that helps reset the circadian clock,” he explained.
He’s not alone in espousing this advice. Michael Mosley, MD, the host of the BBC Radio 4 podcast “Just One Thing,” recently explained to his listeners why it’s important to get out in the early morning for a walk. “Light brings your body clock forward,” he says—after noting that our body clocks actually run a bit longer than 24 hours, and do indeed require “resetting.”
“So in the evening, when you want to go to sleep, your body is ready for it. If you’re struggling to sleep at night, it could be because you’re not getting enough bright light in the morning,” he said.
If that’s not enough to convince you, know that a study published in the journal Sleep Health found that exposure to early morning sunlight leads to better sleep and a much better mood. And for more news that can potentially help your slumber, learn about The Sex Position That Secretly Helps You Sleep Better.
Having strong relationships with people you love is crucial to a healthier, longer life, says Vuu. “When you cultivate positive relationships, you increase oxytocin in your system, and it turns out oxytocin is so important on so many different levels and is one key for our overall health,” he explained to The Beet.
Increasing your oxytocin levels does wonders for your body. “It helps with our blood pressure stability. So, for people with elevated blood pressure, it will help lower cortisol and stress hormones and will help with blood pressure as well,” Vuu went on. “It’s also great for a lot of the mood disorders that we have such as anxiety.”
Paul Dolan, Ph.D., is perhaps the world’s most foremost expert on happiness, which he essentially defined in his terrific book Happiness by Design as the perfect balance between “pleasure and purpose.” Having more pleasure in your college years may make you happier. Having more purpose in your child-rearing years may make you happier. It’s an always-changing mix, he argued.
According to Vuu, living with more purpose won’t just make you happier at times. It will actually help extend your life. “Purpose is belonging to something bigger and greater than ourselves,” he told The Beet.
He advises you to find something in your community where you can find healthy connections and contribute to a cause that is bigger than yourself. “On average, people live seven years longer if they have a deep sense of purpose,” said Vuu. “They also had a limited risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke, which are the number one killer among Americans. If you happen to be hospitalized, if you have a sense of purpose, you actually spend fewer days in the hospital. This really is medicine, and purpose actually has biological effects.”
Vuu strongly advises his clients to stick to a strict sleep schedule, as getting enough sleep is the sturdy foundation for a healthier life. “Our bodies run on a day and night cycle, and our hormones help to regulate how our body functions, so if our circadian rhythms are off, so are our hormones,” he explained to The Beet. “As a result, our cells aren’t going to get the right signals, our hormones are constantly off and your body actually thinks that it’s in danger.”
If you’re body is constantly feeling as though it’s in danger, you’ll be constantly putting it on the path to chronic disease. And for more tips for living healthier starting now, see here for The 15-Second Exercise Trick That Can Change Your Life, Says Science.