In the midst of these difficult times, how is it possible to live happy and healthy lives? Each of us is experiencing our challenges; unemployment or “new” working environment, disappearing finances, food and shelter struggles, distance learning/face to face learning/or both, upended family and social lives, Zoom visits, isolation, missing touch/hugs/kisses. Will I catch COVID-19 and how sick could I get? This is a difficult mix of loss, change, anger, and other emotions. Most of all, the world and our lives seem out of our control. How can we regain control?
The Health and Wellness Committee of Guardian Angels studied Minnesota native Dan Buettner and National Geographic’s research of the healthiest people they could find on earth. The research, Blue Zones, found 5 global areas of longevity and focused on key aspects of the lives of these people. The communities were; Sardinia, Italy with the greatest number of men over age 100, Ikaria, Greece with the lowest rate of people with dementia, Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica with the second greatest number of men over age 100, Okinawa, Japan with the world’s greatest number of women over age 100 and the Seventh Day Adventists of Loma Linda California who live 10 years longer than USA average age. The keys to their success might be starting points for us to regain control.
The foundation of happiness and health in these groups consisted of 4 broad areas; Move Naturally, Right Outlook, Eat Wisely and Connect. These broader areas held a total of 9 important ideas.
- Move Naturally was easier in those communities where their daily lives required physical activity compared with the conveniences we have. However, gardening, hiking, sports, yard work, parking at a distance, using stairs, and shoveling snow could be our activities of joy especially with family.
- Right Outlook holds 2 concepts; Purpose and Downshift. Having a “reason to get out of bed in the morning” was central to each of these groups. And they were not immune to stress, so they had routines to “slow down” and relax through prayer, meditation, naps, remember family, or happy hour.
- Eat Wisely consisted of; the 80% Rule where they stop eating at 80% full, Wine at 5 which is 1-2 small glasses of red wine daily, and Plant Slant where meat is eaten in small amounts and plants comprise the majority of the diet.
- Lastly, Connect, had the 3 ideas of; Loved Ones First where they keep family a priority, Right Tribe consisting of good friends (typically 5 friends) and Community, actively participating in a faith-based community.
These elements of happy and healthy living seem both overwhelming and intuitive at the same time! How can they be adopted or adapted by you? I encourage you to connect with the Health and Wellness Ministry to help bring these ideas to our Community of Guardian Angels!
The Blue Zones Solution by Dan Buettner, 2015