There’s a lot we can do to influence our health, but there is little we can do to control it. People often link being Irish with being lucky. But the truth of the matter is, when it comes to your health, there are things that we have little control over – and a few that we do.
Our socio demographic status at birth is not something we can control. But this factor often impacts our environmental influences, stress levels, risk-taking behaviors, educational opportunities and access to health care and health information – and these make a difference to our overall well-being. Where we live can also determine the cleanliness of our air and how far we have to travel if there is a health emergency. And then there are genetic factors. Heredity can often predispose someone to a particular illness or protect someone from another.
So, on some level, yes. There are determining factors that make us “lucky” or “unlucky” – things we have little or no control over.
But what are some of the things we can do to influence our health in spite of these unyielding determining factors?
Some of the answers are obvious.
- Eat a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, beans grains and nuts. Moderate your consumption of dairy products, alcohol, sweets and meats; and avoid processed foods. (Check out this past Tuesday’s blog on the Mediterranean diet!)
- Practice stress reduction techniques by focusing on your breathing, by using positive self-talk, by going for daily walks or visiting the gym
- Get sufficient sleep
- Don’t smoke
But what else?
- Surround yourself regularly with supportive friends
- Practice rituals of gratitude – like keeping a “gratitude journal”