Many of us get inspired to make changes in the new year. There’s a lot of excitement about new opportunities, new challenges and fresh energy to the start of a new year. However, lots of people lose steam quickly. Yes, it’s hard to change habits and stick to a new routine, but have you considered why people can’t make it through the first month of the year with their resolutions? It’s the lack of inspiration that only lasts a few days or weeks.
That being the case, how can we stay inspired to stay on track with health this year?
Fun. We have to have it. We have to think about it. We have to look forward to it. We have to feel it. What do you like to do? What gets you excited to jump out of bed? What gets your creative juices flowing? What makes your heart beat just a little faster at the simple thought of it? That’s the thing you need to do to stay healthy. A few examples of activities people love to do are dancing, writing, singing, making art, yoga, hiking, gardening, needlework, taking pictures, decorating and the list goes on to all the different activities people are involved in.
Here’s the secret to why having fun is so important. When you are immersed in something that you love doing, your body releases hormones like endorphins and enkephalins. These hormones make you feel good and relieve pain. Your brain sends signals to other parts of your body to allow them to function better and your heart circulates more oxygen rich blood throughout your body. For most people, doing what they love to do isn’t hard. Why not have fun every day?Laugh. We have to do it. At least one hour per day. Why? Because it works our abdominal muscles and increases circulation to our internal organs. Then our digestive system breaks down and assimilates food better. Our liver detoxifies itself better. Our pancreas handles blood sugar levels more efficiently. Our heart pumps more effectively. Laughter releases immune chemical messengers, like antibodies and natural killer cells, that keep our immune system strong. When was the last time you had a belly-aching laugh?
Friends. Spend time with them. They usually involve fun and laughter. Beyond that, they help us relax. Our nervous system gets a chance to rest, get out of the typical “fight or flight” stress response, and into “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system mode. We need this time to regenerate, rejuvenate and invigorate ourselves. Those effects are due to the hormone oxytocin that we release when we are with friends. Our National Institutes of Health have data showing that oxytocin reduces blood pressure, increases tolerance to pain, improves mood and can even help us heal faster. Did you ever think about that when you were having a good time with your best friends? If not, no worries. I didn’t either. I was simply enjoying myself.
So, while you’re out having fun, spending time with friends and laughing, why not pull out some sparkling water, add a little tart cherry juice concentrate and share a healthy beverage with a friend? It just makes sense.