If thinking about your 97th birthday seems a strange idea, this is also a way to turn your focus towards a longer, healthier and happier future. Healthy happy longevity fits in one world = VITALITY. In this series, we continue to reveal what may currently hold your vitality back. After moving more (part.1) and eating less (part.2), let’s discover what behaviors and perceptions may hinder your ability to stay energetic and healthy. But above all, let’s experience the rituals that will set you up for a bouncing 97th birthday.
 If you want to understand why we are talking about your 97th birthday, please check here
This is well researched, stress decreases life expectancy and alter the quality of life. The physiological mechanisms are manifold. While acute stress is an important survival mechanism and stress is key for thriving, the permanent, chronic stress in modern society leads to distress and chronic inflammation associated with every major age-related disease. Chronic stress affects directly your longevity[i] .
All residents from the blue zone (zone in the world where people live longer healthier) experience stressful events but what they all have in common is regular routines to shed that stress: a nap, some prayers, meditation, or… a happy hour.
Their societal network is really strong, supportive and always pregnant in their life. Beyond this deep sense of connection, they also experience a deep sense of purpose. This sense of purpose in Okinawa is called “Ikigai” = “A reason for being”. Both supportive social circles and a sense of purpose promote healthy behaviours and happiness as shown in a 2008 study from the University of California. and both are contributors of living longer, healthier and happier.
Did you set up regular routines with yourselves to regularly shed the stress out without waiting for holidays to come?
 Fowler JH, Christakis, NA (2008) “Dynamic spread of happiness in a large social network: longitudinal analysis over 20 years in the Framingham Heart Study” , doi:10.1136/bmj.a2338
[i] A study at Harvard and Stanford in 2015 shows that a stressful workplace could take up to 3 years off your life expectancy.
If we cannot recreate the centenarians lifestyle in our modern world, we can certainly re-invent our own around the same principles. Apart from moving more (part 1) and eating less (part 2), focus on practicing your daily go-to stress reliever:
- Laugh more – to trigger the release of happy chemicals, decrease the secretion of stress hormones, promote relaxation…. and share
- Breathe consciously to balance your nervous system
- Look for what makes you wake up in the morning. The practice of gratitude, journaling and meditation may help you find, define and refine your Ikigai as you progress in life.