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11 ways to better health and happiness in 2020

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It’s probably everyone’s Holy Grail – a life that is healthy and full of happiness. But it can be hard to achieve in today’s modern society where you are forever connected to the outside world; there are pressures on you financially and mentally at work or when you are retired; plus, caring for children and/or elderly parents adds to the strain. All these pressures may leave you with little time to actually put yourself first.

So, here are our eleven top tips to help you in your search for health and happiness in 2020. While a lot of these are obvious – we all know that we should eat healthily and exercise for example – this is a timely reminder to revisit these habits and lifestyle choices.

Health

  1. Exercise
  • there is no hard and fast distinction between health and happiness – a healthy body is better equipped to support a happy mind, and vice versa;
  • one of the ways you may improve both health and happiness is through exercise, urges the NHS;
  • it helps to ward off major illnesses such as strokes, heart disease, cancer and diabetes by up to 50% and may reduce the risk of an early death by as much as 30%;
  • not only is it easy to access and has an almost immediate effect but it’s also free – and boosts your chances of happiness by fighting depression and anxiety, reports the BBC;
  • and if the thought of getting hot and sweaty at your local gym doesn't appeal, there are other, gentler but just as beneficial exercises you can do, such as yoga or Tai-chi;
  1. Mental health
  • the last point above also ties us in nicely to taking care of your mental health. Practising meditation, even for as little as twenty minutes a day, can make a huge difference to how your brain functions – improving your efficiency, relieving stress, and less prone to making mistakes;
  1. Diet
  • you are what you eat” – it may be a sentiment that was coined as early as the 1820’s but is no less valid for that;
  • if you are looking to eat more healthily, however, you’ll soon come up against a welter of conflicting information about what is “good” and what is “bad” for us;
  • there's probably no foolproof way of determining the best, balanced diet to stay healthy, but the British Nutrition Foundation may offer some of the most authoritative advice;
  1. Weight
  • allied to the question of diet, of course, are the perennial questions of obesity and weight-loss;
  • the concern is mounting since the relevant percentage was 32% just four years ago;
  • finding and maintaining the appropriate weight for you may not only be healthier, but also leave you feeling better and happier about yourself;
  1. Alcohol
  • immoderate use of alcohol exposes you to immediate risks from injury or accident but also poses longer-term health problems such as a greater likelihood of heart disease and cancer, suggests the UK’s Drink Aware charity;
  • the current limit for those wanting to keep the risks low is just 14 units a week, preferably spread evenly over three or more days;
  1. Adopt a dog
  • although regular exercise is an excellent way of staying healthy it requires a certain amount of discipline;
  • a great way of ensuring that you maintain the motivation is to get a dog, suggested a story by the BBC last December – it’s likely to ensure that you spend at least 30 minutes twice a day, every day, taking it for a walk;
  • the companionship and care you lavish on your pet are also likely to work wonders for your mental wellbeing and happiness;

Happiness

  1. Money matters
  • money can’t buy you happiness goes the adage – but it certainly gives you a sense of security and stability in your life to know that your financial affairs are in order;
  • one of the foundations for happiness at any stage in your life, therefore, is likely to be the knowledge that your finances cover your everyday needs and the lifestyle you want to pursue;
  1. … but so does spending
  • an article in Business Insider on the 12th of November, however, also makes the point that happiness with your finances is not just about having sufficient money, but also spending it in a way that brings you joy and satisfaction;
  • denying yourself some of the pleasures in life is no path to sustainability – even if it means spending some of your hard-earned cash;
  • it might mean expenditure on day to day indulgences or a bigger splash on upgrading your next airline flight from Club to 1st Class or, having life experiences rather than material things;
  1. Homeownership
  • if you are buying your own home with the help of a mortgage, then paying off the loan and owning your property outright is likely to boost your sense of satisfaction, security and happiness still further;
  1. Marital status
  • although you are unlikely to be able to do a great deal about it, you might count yourself fortunate if you are married;
  • a story in the Independent newspaper on the 16th of May, suggests that people who are married are likely to score their satisfaction or happiness with life a clear 9.9% higher than those who are single, divorced, or widowed;
  1. Work-life balance
  • when you have little option but to go out and earn your living every day, you may well have struggled to find a happy work-life balance. Business News Daily provides eight tips to help you find some kind of balance including unplugging from technology and work, and setting boundaries;
  • paradoxically, the same may be valid once you have retired – but now it becomes a question of striking a balance of work that continues to provide the companionship and sense of purpose that adds meaning to your life;
  • it need not be paid work – volunteering may deliver the same comradeship and commitment to the wider community that ultimately serves to boost your sense of satisfaction and happiness with life. Our article “Making the most of your retirement" suggests ways in which you can achieve a healthy balance.

There are no definitive answers when it comes to a search for health and happiness, but our 11 tips and suggestions may give you food for thought as you pursue your quest.

The data used in this article is correct at the time of writing.

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