Heart disease, cancer, diabetes, liver cirrhosis, respiratory diseases and stroke are a large part of the top 10 causes of death in Australia. We are all aware of these and well aware of the part our lifestyle plays in contributing to them. What really surprised me was numbers 3 and 13 in the top 20 list. Number 3 now, is dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease) and 13 is intentional self-harm. Over the last decade there has been much done around awareness of mental health and clearly a lot more is needed.
Chronic lifestyle diseases are simply those diseases caused by activities in our life that have a negative impact on our health. In theory it is simple, exercise regularly, eat moderately, eat fresh real food, don’t smoke, don’t drink too much alcohol and don’t stress. Simple, a long happy disease-free life.
The reality is that we are humans and as such are perfectly imperfect. We all have vices, inconsistencies, voids to fill, people depending on us, ups and downs, emotions to navigate and lives to lead in the real world. This means that we don’t always make choices that are the best for our long-term health. As we evolve and grow as people it does become easier to make better choices, healthier choices.
In the meantime, start with the low hanging fruit. We do not usually make good choices when we are stressed. If you take control of one aspect of your life, then understand your response to stress and learn techniques to control it. Once you can go through days, weeks, months and not be “stressed” it becomes so much easier to make better health choices and avoid chronic lifestyle diseases.
My tips to control stress:
- Exercise is often particularly good for helping decrease stress and is a massive part of health in its own right. Make exercise a priority. Do exercise you enjoy and ideally with people you enjoy the company of.
- Have a spiritual practice. This may be based in a religion or much more free flowing but spending time connecting with the planet, the universe and something greater than yourself puts things into perspective very quickly and often makes your “big problems or stresses” seem small and not such a big deal after all.
- Control the people you let influence you. By surrounding yourself with people who inspire, support and energise you and love you as you are you are. Let go of people who ” don’t get you” or who drain you.
- Find a way to serve. Giving, supporting and helping others is a powerful way to minimise stress and it often puts your life and your stress into a different perspective and it often creates a sense of purpose that is very grounding.
- Begin to hack your food. When you discover the relationship between different foods and how they make you feel you will naturally choose to eat foods that are going to support you and provide you with the energy and nutrients you need. Find a nutritionist to help you.