The Complete Guide to a Healthy and Happy Life (2022)

The complete guide to living a healthy and happy life in 2022. We've taken advice from the blue zones where people live the longest to finds actionable tips to live happy, health, and longer.

the complete guide to health and wellness in 2022

Our job at Friday Digest is to find and share actionable advice. We read - A LOT. Each Friday we share links to our favorite articles and digest the best bits of content for our readers. We've created this complete guide to living a healthy and happy life and will update it regularly as we find more helpful and actionable advice. (Updated January, 2022)



11 Ways to Live a Longer and Happier Life

Have you heard of the Blue Zones?

The Blue Zones are areas of the globe where the most healthy, happiest and longest-living people reside. The people that live in these locations have famously eluded heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and even cancer to live longer than people in other parts of the world.  While it is not practical to simply move to these global fountains of youth - we can learn a lot from the people that live there. Many studies have observed the life habits, diets, and mindset from the blue zone population. Here are all the commonalities that experts have found amongst the blue zone habitants and we can use to live a happier, healthier and longer life.

Move more

The people in the blue zones don't get a majority of fitness from the gym. They move their bodies naturally and often. They walk daily and use their hands over made-conveniences such as automobiles and mechanical tools. They plant gardens, raise animals, walk often, cook, climb inclines, and use all of their muscles on a natural and regular basis.

DO: Walk as often as you can. Get up form your desk or chair more often to stretch. Find more activities you can use your hands and body: plant and tend to a garden or do yard work.

Get enough sleep

People in blue zones get plenty of sleep and also often take daytime naps. Adequate rest and a good night’s sleep are very important for living a long and healthy life.

A number of studies have found that not getting enough sleep, or getting too much sleep, can significantly increase the risk of death, including from heart disease or stroke.

Find purpose

Finding purpose can lead to reduced anxiety and better work. Having a reason to wake up in the morning or something to look forward to working on will help your mental health and add years to your life.

DO: Find something in your life that needs attention or something that brings you joy. Ideally choose a mission that helps others. This does not necessarily need to be a full time job, but something that you can work on daily. Many people will start a blog or charity.

Manage stress

Stress leads to chronic inflammation. Inflammation is associated with nearly every major age-related disease. The individuals in the Blue Zones manage stress by engaging with elders, praying, taking naps, and enjoy happy hour with others.

DO: Find ways to manage the stress in your life. Engage with others in a real conversation. Pick up the phone and call a family member. Get out and spend time with friends.

Manage calories

People in the blue zones consume less calories on a daily basis. They eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, and often they won't eat for the rest of the day. They also tend to eat smaller meals and stop eating before they are full. Over eating is a major problem in western culture. We see food advertisements everywhere we go. We are busy and eat a ton of junk food while we are on the run.

DO: Plan your meals to work with your schedule. Stop until you are full. Eat smaller portions and stop eating when your plate is empty.

Eat more plants

Plant based foods are the cornerstone of blue state meals - in fact plants account for 95% of the average diet. The best longevity foods are leafy greens such as spinach, kale, beet and turnip tops, chard, and collards.  Seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans also accompany blue zones meals all year long. Meat is eaten on average of about once per week.

DO: Eat more plants. While traditional western meals are centered around beef and pork, try limiting your meat to 1-3 times per week.

Eat less sugar

People in the blue zones eat sugar intentionally and less frequently. They consume sugar naturally in fruits rather than a daily dose of sweets. When they do eat sweets, it is on special occasion and rare. Too much sugar in our diet has been can suppress our immune system, spike insulin levels - which can lead to diabetes and make us fat, and shorten our life.

DO: Save sweets and bakery items for special occasions. Limit sugar added to coffee or tea and have no more than four teaspoons per day.

Fasting

Many blue zones have periods of fasting for religious holidays throughout the year. In addition to consistently reducing overall calorie intake, periodic fasting appears to be beneficial for health by reduced weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and many other risk factors for chronic disease.

DO: Try intermittent fasting by limiting eating to certain hours of the day or certain days of the week.

Drink wine

Many people in blue zones drink one to two glasses of wine per day with friends and food. Western culture tends to save up all of their drinks for the weekend and put a strain on our liver and body.

DO: Find a healthy red wine and enjoy one glass per day with dinner.

Find belonging

Most people in the blue zones belong to some faith-based community (denomination doesn't seem to matter). Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month can add four to 14 years to your life.

DO: Find a community to attend on a regular basis - church, home group, or even an activity or hobby to engage with others of the same faith or belonging.

Prioritize loved ones

Blue Zones value their families over work or personal activity. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home. They commit to a life partner (which can add up to three years of life) and invest in their children with time and love.


9 Simple Hacks to Improve your Mental Health

Mental health is an integral part of living a healthy and enjoyable life. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five American experience mental health issues. And after the pandemic I bet it's even worse.

Our mental health effects how we feel, act, think, and behave every day. Our mental health also contributes to our decisions and how we relate with everyone around us. A healthy mental state is just as important as a healthy body.

There are simple steps that we can take to improve our mental health everyday. Exercising, eating a balanced diet, speaking to others, going outside, and getting a good night’s sleep, can all be helpful in boosting your emotional health.

Here are 10 things you can do to improve your mental health and feel happier each day:

Journal

Writing down your thoughts is a great way to confront your feelings. Write down what you are grateful for or what is on your mind. Making this a daily habit can not only release your mind, but improve your happiness and even your communication with others.

Make a list

Similar to journaling, getting tasks off your mind is a good way to release stress. If you have a lot of things to do - make a list. Still feeling down? Make an "Already did" list to help you feel accomplished.

Eat Breakfast

Starting the day hungry - is not a good way to start a day. Start your morning with a bowl of oatmeal, eggs, or yogurt, and add a serving of fruit. The sugar in the fruit is a natural mood booster.

Add protein

Add protein to your meals and snacks. Protein helps stabilize our blood sugar and fill our appetite. Chicken, fish, lean meat, eggs, dairy, and nuts are good sources of protein.

Breathe

Too often we take short shallow breaths, especially when feel stressed or anxious. Deep breaths can help release tension. Breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 seconds, and breathe out for 4 counts. And repeat twice.

Get outside

Get outside and move around. Breathe in the fresh air. While outside observe nature and your surroundings. It’s amazing what fresh air can do for your health, your heart, and your mood. Wanna take it one step further: try forrest bathing

Limit screens

We all stare at screens way too much. The blue light is not good for our eyes or brain. Put away your phone, laptop, and iPad. Don't look at screens within an hour of bedtime to get a more restful sleep.

Pick up the phone

Sometimes just talking to a friend or family member can put you in a better mood - especially on a busy day at work or extended period alone. Pick up the phone and give someone a call - just to chat.

Be nice

One of the easiest ways to boost your mood is to do something nice for someone else. This could be anything from sending an unexpected handwritten note to a long-distance friend to making a donation to a charity in line with your values. Even simply paying someone a compliment will tend to life you up.


If you start to feel like your emotional health is starting to impact you daily, it may be time to reach out for support. Check out Doctor On Demand, to find a psychologist or psychiatrist to get started.