By Greg Thurston, Creator of Seven Minute Mindfulness
This will help you discover how to sink into relaxation quickly, turn down the mental noise and fill your life with joy and satisfaction….
7 Minute Mindfulness – You’ll quickly reconnect with the world around you, and with your own best self.
My friend’s aunt, Patricia (or Nana Patty to her grandkids) is the most vibrant woman I know.
At the age of 87, she’s showing no signs of slowing down. As an immigrant from Poland, she’s had her share of wars and disasters that would probably break a weaker person.
What’s amazing about Aunt Patty is how she’s never fazed by life’s challenges, and doesn’t have one jaded bone in her body.
No one I know radiates the combination of grace, beauty and grit that she does.
When I asked her what was her secret to aging so gracefully, this is what she said:
“My dear, I stopped looking at the calendar a long time ago. Nowadays, I only worry about taking my morning walk, feeding my cat and being nice to my neighbors. Oh, and I don’t care for gossip.”
I’d say she’s on to something. I certainly took her advice to heart and I’ll be sure to do the same when I get to that age.
In the meantime, there are a few other habits I came across that will help get me there. My older self will thank me for practicing them now.
Controlling Your DNA: The Fountain of Youth?
My chat with Aunt Patty got me thinking about the process of aging, and how to slow it down.
What I found is that getting older begins at a cellular level – particularly in your chromosomes.
Nobel Prize biologist Elizabeth Blackburn explained in her TED talk that aging is caused by the lack of a certain enzyme in our DNA called telomerase.
Telomerase protects our cells when they divide. It’s like of cap that covers the tips of the newly divided DNA strands as they split.
When this key process slows down or stops working altogether, the end of those DNA strands called telomeres get shorter and shorter. And this is where it all starts to unravel, causing the human body to slow down and start the aging process.
But there are a few things you can do today to keep your chromosomes healthy for years to come:
#1: Good food = good life
Is it any mystery that what goes in our bodies affects our health?
It can’t be said enough, because nutrition is one of those things people take for granted. Until their poor food choices catches up to them, that is.
Don’t wait until you reach the point of no return – invest in a proper diet and start extending your life today.
Let’s start with the basics:
- Cut out the “bad” stuff: Eating healthy has a lot do with what DOESN’T go in your mouth. For instance, you should take it easy on the sugar intake.
Consuming too much sugar (which is very easy to do) raises your blood sugar levels, which can lead to all sorts of life-shortening complications. It can also accelerate your skin aging through dehydration over time. The same goes for salt and gluten which can affect your blood pressure and your sugar levels respectively.
- Hydrate! Water isn’t technically food, but it does deserve mentioning because it’s a vital substance you should be consuming more of. Your younger-looking skin will thank you for hydrating every day, not to mention your healthy digestive system and flexible joints.
- Antioxidants are your friend: In this day and age, we’re more saturated with toxic substances, both in our food and the environment.Throw in a fast-paced lifestyle that takes an additional toll on your body, and you’ve got a recipe for free-radicals that accelerate the aging process.
Antioxidants help to keep your cells from breaking down too early.
Include antioxidant-rich foods like watermelon, grapes, blueberries, mushrooms, salmon, avocado and dark chocolate (yes, seriously) into your daily diet to enjoy their age-slowing benefits.
- Go nuts: Walnuts, chestnuts and pecans are great in preventing diabetes, cardiovascular problems and brain degeneration down the road.
- Fiber up your diet: Also called nature’s broom, this will help you flush out those nasty toxins in your body. Whole grains and fruits, along with certain veggies are rich in fiber which will help your heart and digestive system.
- Live clean by eating greens: You probably know this one, but try the less popular ones like spinach and kale. They’re also packed with antioxidants and give your immune system a serious boost.
#2: Sweat it out, live longer
Exercise is another obvious one, but there’s no way around it if you intend to slow aging and enjoy life more.
Like eating well, cardiovascular activity slows down aging as it keeps your DNA and telomeres healthy.
Researchers have found that regular exercise can make you younger by several years on a cellular scale.
In a study done at Brigham Young University, it showed that people with the habit of exercising have longer telomeres than those who don’t work out.
After going over the results of thousands of participants, it was clear that even half an hour of exercise a few times a week can make a serious dent in the aging process.
That gives you a lot more time to accomplish all those things you want in life. So, you need to put this on your to-do list for staying young.
#3: Love your goals and stay engaged
It’s not just your body that needs exercise. Your brain also has to stay in shape through mental activity.
This can be in the form of games, puzzles or other stimuli like reading. But one of the most effective ways to keep your mind sharp is expending your mental energy on creating solid, worthwhile goals.
No matter your age, everyone needs to be engaged in some kind of meaningful pursuit to keep their mental health and general morale high.
So craft your mission-vision statement (or revise your existing one).
If you haven’t had the chance to do this before, it’s basically a written declaration of what kind of person you’d like to be in the future, the kind of goals needed to make that happen.
Remember, giving your mind something productive to chew on is the best kind of workout.
#4: Never stop learning
This is similar to the last one in the sense that it keeps the gears in your heard turning. However, learning new things is a different kind of mental workout.
As you acquire new knowledge and develop new skills, your brain undergoes a process called neuroplasticity. What happens is that your grey matter grows and your neural network gets an upgrade.
In other words, this is another awesome way to fight the risk of dementia and age related conditions.
So, this is the perfect excuse to get a new hobby or revisit and old one.
Sign up for a class, pick up an instrument, get involved in your local community.
The more you open your mind to new things, the better you can keep it firing on all cylinders.
#5: Get out and see the world
As the wise say, don’t buy things – buy experiences instead.
And it’s not just for the glamorous selfies for your social media feed, either.
It turns out that embracing the unfamiliar and uncomfortable is also great for your well-being.
Like learning and having goals, travel is also just as effective in strengthening those neurons in your brain.
And if you’re feeling bold enough, you can take up a new language to make things even more interesting.
#6: Be grateful for it all
One of the toughest things about going through life is accepting its imperfections.
The truth is that you’ll never run out of things to complain about. If you wanted to, you could endlessly zero in on each and every annoyance that you come across.
But would you really want to live this way?
I’ve made it a personal rule to not complain (either internally or out loud) UNLESS it serves me some constructive purpose.
Other than that, I’d rather pay attention to the all the wonderful things in the world I should be thankful for.
For every bad thing you could whine about, there are ten things that make life awesome. Do yourself a favor and notice them!
For people who are used to complaining instead of being grateful, this can be a challenge at first. But like a muscle, all you need is to keep using it to make it stronger.
Take the first step by starting the habit of making note of all the things that went well at the end of your day.
From there you can re-wire your brain to be more appreciative – and reduce your daily stress in the process.
Trust me, gratitude is like a drug that makes you happier and younger. The best part is that you can’t overdose on it!
#7: Get into mindfulness
Similar to gratitude, don’t forget to give yourself space to breath and connect to the present moment.
It can be as simple as unpluggin your mind from your daily concerns.
People today have a lot on their plate, and that can make you disengaged or mentally overwhelmed.
By practicing mindfulness you can release stress, relax, get a greater perspective, unleash your creativity, and enjoy life more.
“Mindfulness” covers a broad range of techniques, including meditation, yoga, journaling, creative pursuits, or simply focusing in on your body and surroundings as you walk down the street.
Many studies have shown that mindfulness has some incredible health benefits.
One of the biggest effects is cutting down those stress levels which is vital to staying young. This eases the strain on your cells which gives you better leverage in the battle against aging.
If you’re interested in mindfulness but don’t want to sit for half an hour in meditation, I have good news. Thanks to technology, you can activate your relaxation response and release stress, in as little as seven minutes. Click here to learn more.