Here we are ringing in a New Year and a new decade! Many of us may be setting goals for a healthier retirement.
Perhaps you have plans to kick-start an exercise routine or eat more healthfully.
As for me, I intend to dig deeper into my Yoga practice. The energy and motivation I feel when I step off the mat helps me tackle the day!
However, the benefits can quickly dissipate if I let my thoughts turn negative.
With that in mind, have you ever considered that the number 1 secret to a healthier retirement has more to do with your mindset and less about what you eat or how much you exercise?
I’m not underrating the value of exercise and good nutrition. They work wonders for our bodies. However, I am aware of another essential component in the health equation.
And lest you think I’m speaking new age pseudoscience, medical practitioners from the beginning of time have understood the beneficial result of “thinking well”.
But before we discuss number 1, let’s take a look at the countdown list for a healthier retirement starting with number 10.
10 positive lifestyle choices for a healthier retirement.
10 – Hydrate– Water is vital for optimal health. It lubricates joints and plumps wrinkled skin. Try setting a daily goal for drinking water. I like to keep a water bottle handy. It makes it easier to get my daily dose.
9 – Walk – Walk for a healthier retirement. It’s widely accepted that walking improves cardiovascular health.
8 – Stretch – Flexibility is one of the first things you lose as you age. Therefore, touching your toes every day is a good thing. Is it possible that stretching before getting out of bed leads to a happier day?
7 – Eat more leafy greens – Aside from being delicious, eating spinach and other dark leafy greens may contribute to better eye health. PubMed states that the carotenoids found in dark, leafy green vegetables show great promise to reducing age-related macular degeneration.
6 – Eliminate or reduce sugar intake – After all of the heavy meals and sugary desserts from the holidays, a sugar-busting challenge presents an excellent start to a new year.
5 – Listen to music – Music is a mood booster. And although controversial, research also indicates that listening to music may enhance cognitive function in healthy older adults.
4 – Self-Massage – A daily self-massage is a great way to get the blood flowing. Start massaging from the top down. Massage your scalp, shoulders, arms, torso, legs, and feet.
3 – Practice Prevention – Make lifestyle choices that you consider appropriate to prevent illness for a healthier retirement.
2 – Take Charge of your own health – By that, I mean don’t let others plant seeds of poor health into your mind.
1 – Think Well – For centuries, physicians have known that certain patients have a higher” will to live”. It’s recognized that these patients think life is worth living.
It’s understood that good habits provide a healthier retirement.
However, it’s well known that how we think influences how we feel.
Having said that, I am not suggesting that we can completely prevent illness or cheat death.
Although I am saying that in my experience our thoughts are relevant to how successfully we manage our health.
And this concept is not new.
Contemplate the following quote from a team of medical professionals at Stanford Medicine for Integrative Health.
We have known for over 2,000 years— from the writings of Plato and Galen— that there is a direct correlation between the mind, the body, and one’s health. “The cure of many diseases is unknown to physicians,” Plato concluded, “because they are ignorant of the whole. For the part can never be well unless the whole is well.” – med.stanford.edu
Does our mindset affect our health behaviors and outcomes?
Consider what Alia Crum, Ph.D., assistant professor at Stanford University says about how our minds impact our health.
She wrote a fascinating article titled “Does the Mind Impact Health”.
In it, she references a study that she conducted of hotel room attendants. Their work included strenuous physical activity.
The research was about how mindset affects exercise.
Two-thirds of the group participants thought they were doing “just work” and thought it insufficient to be considered exercise.
Interestingly enough, their health improved once she pointed out that routinely lifting mattresses, vacuuming, and pushing heavy carts is good exercise.
The participants lost weight, reduced body fat, and reported lower blood pressure.
Through the power of positive suggestions, they changed their mindset – they changed their thinking.
Subsequently, their thoughts produced a noteworthy change in their health.
Can you think yourself well?
While working in an integrative medicine practice she noticed that some of her patients that were most health-conscious were also mysteriously sick.
On the other hand, her lackadaisical patients – those less inclined to exercise, take supplements, watch their diets, etc. appeared to be the picture of health.
As doctors do, she ran a battery of tests to diagnose her unhealthy patients. More often than not, she found nothing wrong.
This motivated her to get to the bottom of why her patients felt ill. She decided to ask them questions beyond the usual physician inquiries.
She asked questions about what they thought about themselves and their lives.
- Do you feel financially stable?
- What do you love about yourself?
- Do you express yourself creatively?
The answers revealed much unhappiness.
The patients that complained of aches and pains, fatigue, belly-aches and so on described themselves as stressed out, depressed, or in some way unhappy with their lives, or themselves.
However, the healthier, yet less conscientious group, affirmed positivity. They described their lives as fun and meaningful.
This led her to conclude that an individual’s thoughts have powerful consequences for their quality of health and life.
Use power of positive thinking for a healthier retirement.
Mayo Clinic Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Kopecky agrees with research that shows positive thinking is good for your heart health.
Dr. Kopecky says that negative thoughts generally result from too much stress. And stress may affect the way your body functions.
What’s his advice? Be optimistic and positive for better health.
And he suggests this simple exercise.
- Think of 3 things you are grateful for upon arising in the morning.
- Think of 3 things you are grateful for before going to bed at night.
Here again, the emphasis is on what you think.
In the Mayo Clinic Minute below, Dr. Stephen Kopecky explains how the power of positive thinking may be good for your heart.
Understandably a healthier retirement is of great value. Therefore, many of us will aspire to take measures for improvement.
Also, it’s a good idea to think positive and well because research suggests that our thoughts do indeed affect our health.
What are your thoughts on the power of positive thinking and does that affect a healthier retirement?