4 good habits to start in 2017

By Michael Dubin, MD  |  1/13/2017

How does one define a good quality of life? Some people say it’s about happiness, but once we try to define what happiness means, it turns into a philosophical discussion. So, in practical terms, we may need to remember our state of well-being is a combination of mental and physical health. Here are four things one can do on a regular basis to achieve this goal.

ake time to relax. Relaxation is an important tool to help recuperate, mentally and physically. People interested in learning techniques can master the art of relaxation within a short period of time. It can even be accomplished in a physician’s office. Practicing relaxation techniques regularly maintains a feeling of well-being, boosts the immune system by decreasing the frequency of infection and malignancies and increases longevity. Some relaxation techniques include meditation, deep breathing and light stretching.

Get out and socialize. Spend time with people you love. Accumulated studies have shown that people with a social circle of support (friends, family and loved ones) live longer, have fewer ailments and do better in their lives.

Add physical activity to your routine. Maintaining optimal weight is absolutely essential for both mental and physical health. It is important to note that it is not only exercise that is beneficial to our health but also physical endurance. There is evidence that people who have a good exercise tolerance not only have fewer cardiovascular events but also fewer malignant tumors.

Think about your diet. Food is very important for our health. What we eat can heal or harm the body. While it is a very big topic, here are a few principles on what we should eat and what we should avoid. Certain foods that contain saturated fats and trans-fatty acids (i.e. vegetable shortening and margarine) promote an unhealthy inflammatory response in our body. Foods that decrease inflammation include unsaturated fatty acids such as cold-water fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, dark green leafy vegetables and soybeans. Processed meats are associated with an increased risk of cancer. Conversely, fresh fruits and vegetables, not already cut or frozen, decrease your cancer risk.

Each of us enters this world with an inherited set of genes that carry different strengths and weaknesses. We cannot change them, at least at this stage of scientific development. However, we can change our behavior and, in turn, improve the quality of our lives by incorporating the above-mentioned techniques.