Four easy ways to improve health you usually don't consider
And how to shake off languishing.
Before I begin,
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Longevity and health science fascinate me. I do many things right, and it pays dividends in the form of physical and mental health and excellent life quality. So today, I decided to throw a few things together for you and see what you may want to incorporate into your life to feel better and do everything you want! Everything I share I've learned by keeping track of the latest science with the help of others who geek out tracking things and delving deeper.
Let there be light!
Enjoy the morning light. Get as much of it as you can without sunglasses about an hour after getting out of bed. Let it come through your windows in the morning. Morning daylight, scientists say, helps you wake up and go to bed earlier. But also, if you miss too much of it and instead spend more time watching the sunset or hanging around brightly lit places, you will find yourself staying up later and later, delaying your circadian clock. If you want to sleep better, keep the lights dim for about two hours before going to bed.
Take the Epworth Sleepiness Test on the CDC website to determine your daytime sleepiness level. If you score ten or more, you may need to find out what's wrong with you. The "normal range is 0 – 10, 11-12 is mild excessive daytime sleepiness, 13 – 15 is moderate excessive, 16 – 24 is excessive daytime sleepiness. Go HERE if you want to learn more about the Epworth Sleepiness Scale.
Why does it matter? Because you need your body and mind to be functioning well. Without enough sleep, you work on fewer than all your cylinders, doze off during the day, make mistakes that stress you out, and can't repair your organism. Better sleep = a better functioning human being!
Get a dog!
Dirt and pets are good for your microbiome. I credit Lulu, my germ bucket, with my resilience to Covid. I'm probably stretching the science on this one, but her rolling on the ground, digging holes, sniffing trash cans and dog butts, and me kissing her all the time is probably training my immune system to deal with pathogens. It turns out that having furry friends helps you increase your microbiome, which is relevant to your overall health. This 2020 study (NIH) tells the story. So, pets could be the new probiotic, according to this New York Times article.
"Exposure to animal bacteria may trigger bacteria in our gut to change how they metabolize the neurotransmitters that have an impact on mood and other mental functions…"
And this might be why dogs are our best friends…
Harvard Medical School published a recent study by Brigham and Women's Hospital showing that people who took vitamin D, or vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, had a 22% lower rate of autoimmune diseases than people who took a placebo. Doctors now recommend women 55 and over take 2000 IU of vitamin D + 1000 mg of omega-3 to avoid autoimmune disorders. The excellent efficacy of vitamin D to reduce inflammation was already well known. This is yet another superpower of vitamin D. How easy is this compared to dealing with autoimmune disorders? Seriously!
No one's too old to play. Play physically, as in sports and exercise with others, or play mentally like board and card games or hobbies. It helps you release stress and make friends, keeps your mind working and in a good mood, helps with problem-solving, keeps you mentally agile, and increases creativity. It also combats loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Once you start playing, it gets easier to keep playing. Especially if you keep playful objects around, permit yourself to be goofy, prank your friends, organize white elephants, bust out the board games before you reach out for the remote control, or pick up a hobby!
Here's a good article on the benefits of play for adults with some science to support them.
If you love health science, check out the Huberman Lab – long-form podcasts for those with 2+ hours on their hands who want to know the latest in human performance research. He frequently features interviews with world-renowned scientists who are at the forefront of the latest research in their field. His episode Find your temperature minimum to defeat jetlag, shift work & sleeplessness, and Using Play to Rewire and Improve Your Brain, inspired parts of this post.
Don’t miss next week’s Life Intelligence post and extra goodies.
Feeling like no matter what you do, you still have a sense of stagnation, muddle through your day, nothing excites you, and the blah just never ends? It sounds like languishing. Even if you may be good at keeping busy, permitting yourself to rest, and know how to take care of yourself, you may still feel challenged. The rest may turn into inertia. The emotional exhaustion, to depression.
There are tools to help you. I am one 😊. Feel free to call me. Or try "behavioral activation" on your own. Here's an article that talks about your situation and behavior activation: You've done Self-Care. You've Languished. Now Try This. If you are interested, I can expand on the topic in the future. Just let me know!
Thanks for reading.
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