When I think of my future elderly self, I picture a sassy great-great-grandma who is likely still pulling tarot cards daily (how else will I know what the vibe of the day will be?), charging crystals under the moonlight, looking to astrology for cosmic guidance, and dishing out spiritual and wellness wisdom to anyone who will listen. To realize that vision and experience what it's like to hit a triple-digit age during circa 2090, one thing is certain: I definitely need to start implementing longevity promoting habits, like yesterday.
Thankfully, this year we learned a lot of juicy wisdom from some of the longest-living people in the world about what it takes to live a long, happy life, including what foods they eat for better sleep, their go-to exercises, how they celebrate the holidays, and what longevity promoting habits they practice daily. To sum up the latter, below are eight practices the longest-living people in the world swear by.
1. They maintain strong relationships
Although essential, living a long, healthy, happy life goes beyond just exercising regularly and eating well. Cultivating strong relationships with other people is another longevity pillar practiced in Blue Zones regions, the geographic locations around the globe that are home to the longest-living and healthiest populations.
So, how exactly do you do this? Researchers found that the longest-living folks in the world followed a few fundamental relationship principles, which include creating strong bonds, having an active social life, focusing meal time on connecting with others, maintaining a spicy sex life, and staying geographically close to loved ones.
2. They commit to a morning routine
I love a good morning ritual. Snuggling with my fiancé, a few minutes of meditation, and stream of conscious journaling is just what I need to get me juiced up for the day. That said, I'd be lying if I said I practiced my morning routine every. single. day.
But after learning that folks who live to experience triple-digit ages practice morning habits for longevity daily, well, that is just the motivation I need to actually stick to my a.m. routine. You too? According to journalist Dan Buettner, the pioneer of research on Blue Zones, there are four essential morning habits the longest-living people follow: finding your purpose that makes you want to jump out of bed every morning, eating breakfast, enjoying a cup of morning coffee, and saying something nice to the first person you see.
3. And a nighttime routine
As expected, the longest-living folks around the globe also stick to a solid nighttime routine that promotes longevity. In particular, Buettner's research found that they practice a few essential pre-sleep habits that include keeping a consistent sleep schedule and getting 8–10 hours of quality sleep every night, which leads to better brain function, a stronger immune system, and more energy.
Furthermore, Blue Zones residents also prioritize doing things to wind down and help manage stress. This may look like daytime activities such as taking a midday power nap and enjoying happy hour or relaxing, pre-sleep rituals like reading a book or snuggling up with a cup of tea. People who live in Blue Zones also eat mindfully and typically skip midnight snacking, and they also love to enjoy a glass of wine after 5 p.m.
4. They sit on the floor
Some of the longest-living people in the world are known to ditch the comfort of chairs and couches for floor sitting. And, if you've ever sat on the floor in a cross-legged position, you know that getting up requires some serious muscle strength. So it makes sense that having to stand up from the floor multiple times a day, every day, reaps longevity benefits that include a stronger core and better balance, which helps prevent falls, a top cause of unintentional death for folks over 65.
That said, if you are game to implement this floor-sitting habit, experts note that it's essential to be mindful of your posture. Pro tip: Consider investing in a cushion for optimal alignment.
5. They mind their own business
When I grow up, I want to be like Annie Mae Belin, a Darlington, South Carolina resident who celebrated her 102nd birthday this year. Her top tip for living a long, happy life: minding her own business. This longevity promoting habit may sound super simple, but it makes perfect sense. The less time and energy you spend getting bogged down with other people's drama, the more you have to pour into your own cup and focus on your needs and desires.
6. They believe in a higher power
Spiritual health is of utmost importance to me (hence, why I moonlight as a manifestation coach), so I was happy to also learn from my girl Annie that having faith in God, or whatever higher power you believe in, is also a practice that can add years to your life. And there's science to back it up. "Study after study suggests that having faith may increase longevity," John Day, MD, author of The Longevity Plan, previously told Well+Good.
7. They practice stress-reducing activities
Knowing that stress can wreak havoc on our overall well-being, it’s no wonder the longest-living people actively participate in activities that help reduce stress. Namely, they love tending to their gardens (plant parents, rejoice!), maintaining a healthy sex life no matter their age, surrounding themselves with community, volunteering, and taking daily strolls. Consider these your 2022 goals.
8. They take vacation days
Taking time off may help increase longevity, according to research published by the European Society of Cardiology. Why? You guessed it: Vacations can help relieve stress. Specifically, the study found that the sweet spot of how many vacation days you should take per year is three weeks or more. So, if you've been letting your PTO stack up, consider this your friendly reminder to use them up. Future you will thank you.
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