Together magazine’s Sarbani Sen looks at eight simple steps to perfect wellbeing.
While going through different theories on wellbeing, I bumped into this very simple, yet holistic vision. Created by Roger Walsh back in the 1970s, it has its own very simple, yet productive way of creating a healthy and happy life. After all: “Mens sana in corpore sano.”
Walsh’s encourages us to pay attention to these eight elements of life, which, when combined, will contribute to a simply happy life.
Physical movement is of course the key to both physical and mental wellbeing, and when it is done regularly, it leads to optimal health. Through exercise we become leaner and fitter, and less likely to develop deadly diseases such as diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and cancer, but it has also been shown to reduce chronic pain, age-related cognitive decline etc. It improves sleep, as well as releasing endorphins that make you feel euphoric. Those of us who run or cycle have definitely felt this ‘runner’s high’, which can be quite addictive. People who exercise regularly have enhanced self-efficacy and self-esteem, less negative thoughts and a breakdown of chronic psycho-somatic muscle tension.
So, which exercise is best? The best is whatever you can do regularly and that your body enjoys! It is more about how much you exercise. You can participate in brisk walking, gardening, playing a sport or working out in the gym. However, it needs to be done at least three times a week and for 30 minutes at a time. It has been shown that while 30 minutes are valuable for physical health, it does little for cognitive gains. So if you want to be smarter and experience cognitive benefits, you will need more strenuous activity, by combining strength training with aerobics.
If you would like a simple but effective exercise session, try and perform eight rounds of Sun Salutations (check the YOGA tutorials on youtube) – it may be enough to get your mind and body going.
Obviously, on a path to honour yourself and your body, your supreme vehicle, it is better to avoid junk food with artificial and processed sugars with non-nutrient rich calories. And if you have a good relation with your body, ask it what is good for it and don’t judge.
Try to eat predominantly multicoloured fruits and vegetables, and fish, such as cold deep-seawater fish which are high in beneficial omega-3 fish oils. For those who don’t eat fish regularly, it can be worthwhile to supplement with fish oil (good luck!). On a more ecological level, avoid meat, and red meat in particular as our organism is not prepared to digest dead flesh, and above all it takes so much energy to raise and feed the animals you are planning to eat. Think from a larger perspective and allow yourself to eat it two to three times max per week – if you really needed. It is totally outdated to eat meat every day.