This past weekend I celebrated my second bone marrow transplant anniversary. It reminded me of the whole cancer treatment experience which included wheelbarrows full of drugs. These drugs had all sorts of bizarre side effects. There were drugs that made my face swell up like a balloon, drugs that made my pee red, drugs that tasted like a skunk’s anus and drugs that messed with head enough to convince me that there were talking lobsters in my bed.
I still have a box of leftover meds in my closet from my chemo days that I pulled out recently:
I have no doubt that these drugs were essential to my recovery but it seems that nowadays we turn to pharmaceuticals for everything. Modern pharmaceuticals have a role to play but I think we need to turn to the simple, common-sense and tried and true approaches more often. Here are some basic techniques that I think we often neglect:
- Sleep. 7-9 hours a night. A well-rested body means a healthy body (and a less cranky co-worker).
- Eat right. Eat like crap, feel like crap. Your body needs a balanced diet full of vitamins and nutrients. Poor diets lead to obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, heart diseases, and depression. There’s nothing happy about a Happy Meal.
- Drink plenty of water. Not Coke. Not Starbucks. Water. At least 8 cups per day.
- Laughter. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, boosts immunity by decreasing stress hormones, relaxes tense muscles, decreases pain and even improves blood flow and the function of blood cells. The best medicine? Maybe.
- Exercise/Sunshine. Stay fit, stay healthy. As Health Canada puts it, “Physical activity improves health and well-being. It reduces stress, strengthens the heart and lungs, increases energy levels, helps you maintain and achieve a healthy body weight and it improves your outlook on life… Research shows that physical inactivity can cause premature death, chronic disease and disability.”
There’s nothing complicated or revolutionary about the above five techniques for healthy living. These are simple approaches that we know keep us healthy and strong. So why do they seem so elusive to so many of us? Unfortunately the pace and priorities of modern Western life often means we don’t have time for these things, simple though they may be.
Our hectic calendars, increased workloads and pressure to be constantly doing something “productive” leave little time for rest. We work long hours, leaving little time to prepare healthy meals, opting instead to grab fast food on the go. We jack ourselves up on coffee and other diuretics to stay awake but end up dehydrating ourselves. The nonstop busy-ness of our schedules and the pressures associated with work, finances, our relationships, etc, increases our stress levels and leaves little time to relax, laugh and enjoy life. Chained to a desk all day in an office and relying on our cars to get around everywhere decreases our odds at getting enough exercise, fresh air and sunshine.
Find ways to incorporate these five techniques into your life more. More importantly, if these things seem elusive to you, maybe it’s time to start the journey to a simpler life that will free up the time and money to stay healthy and strong.
Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is the author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.” Click here to learn more and to purchase a copy.