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By Dr S. K. Sharma

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What is lifestyle ?
Why lifestyle is significant ?
Determinants of Lifestyle
 

What is lifestyle ?
Lifestyle is nothing else but ‘way of living’. Good Lifestyle is not about lavish living and it is not something that is available only for very rich people. It is available for every single human being. It requires understanding of facts related to wholesome living and making small corrections in our living ways by making sensible and healthy choices. The changes required are small and simple but the positive impact of these changes on our life is considerable. It has three components :

  1. Awareness : Getting factual information about good living.
  2. Choices : Opting for healthy and positive choice.
  3. Action : Persevering with healthy choices with commitment.

Why lifestyle is significant ?
Just like sensible investments which give you good returns, sensible and healthy lifestyle give a quality life with abundance of good health both at mental and physical level, along with mental peace, joy, satisfying relationships and realization of self potential. Poor or faulty lifestyle has been implicated in many dangerous diseases like Heart Disease, Hypertension, High Cholesterol, Atherosclerosis, Obesity, Diabetes Mellitus, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cancer, Chronic Liver Disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Osteoporosis, Stroke, Chronic Kidney Disease, Arthritis etc. It is also responsible for complaints like stress, depression, anxiety, behavioral disorders etc. Apart from these physical and mental complaints, bad lifestyle also results in lack of energy and poor efficiency which results in lack of growth and achievement in life. It can also directly or indirectly affect success and satisfaction in relationships. On the other hand, Good Lifestyle improves the overall quality of life and helps in dynamic living with positive health.

Determinants of Lifestyle
Organized life

  • Organized life means creating order and system in life.
  • It is done by allocating due space, time, money and effort to different things, tasks or aspects of life.
  • Making a ‘to do’ list, diary or planner helps in organizing life.
  • Setting up priorities and giving due consideration to different things, task or aspects of life helps in organizing.
  • Organizing life helps in giving control over life, helps in better planning, improving efficiency & achievement.
  • It avoids life becoming messy, reduces stress and saves time, space, money & effort.
  • It must be done keeping in mind own and family needs in consideration.
  • It must have scope of flexibility to save life from becoming mechanical and monotonous.
Harmony and Moderation
  • Harmony in life is something similar to harmony in music. When notes are in harmony, music is pleasing. Similarly when a person is in harmony in family, with friends & relatives, with environment, at work place, in community etc, there is minimum conflict. This saves emotional energy and keeps motivation high. Harmony with environment also improves health. Positive combination of parts into whole is harmony and it is based on the fact that welfare of whole results in welfare of parts. So when family members live in harmony, peace prevails & family grows and all family members gain. Same applies to human and environment combination.
  • Moderation refers to avoidance of extremes. Excess of anything spoils the balance and creates disorder. This applies to each and every aspect of life. Excess of work is as bad as lack of work. Excess of eating is as harmful as deficient eating. Both excess and lack of sexual desire affects happiness in life. Extremes of climate are not suitable for efficient functioning.
Discipline of life
  • Discipline of life refers to developing control of body and mind. It is not imposed but internal.
  • Lack of discipline is responsible for poor mental & physical health, affects relationships, affects growth in life and leads to chaos in society.
  • Discipline helps in developing self control, improved adaptability, better health & efficiency. It prepares one for bigger things in life.
  • It is developed by perseverance of observing self control, understanding & accepting responsibility and resisting temptations. Kaalcharya in Sanskrit refers to self discipline at physical and mental level according to Kaal (time & situation).
  • This can be Dincharya (discipline of daily routine), Rwitucharya (discipline according to seasonal variation for example changing eating habits according to season) and Ayucharya ( discipline according to different stages of life).

Time Management

  • On one hand there are people who do a lot and still have time to relax and on the other hand there are people who are not doing large amount of work but still are always short of time.
  • The difference is time management.
  • Poor time management lead to inefficiency, under achievement, time pressure, chaotic life and stress apart from always feeling burn out & losing out in life.
  • Good time management leads to maximizing time utilization, better efficiency & results and sufficient time for different tasks.
  • Goals are achieved quickly and more goals can be achieved. The important tasks are not missed and get enough focus.
  • One gets enough time to relax & rejuvenate.
  • Time management involves working on its two aspects – time and tasks.
  • Tasks : Clarify & write down tasks. Divide into short term, mid term and long term tasks. Mark priorities. Delete unnecessary tasks. A well marked ‘To Do’ list is very helpful. Mark ‘Must Do’ tasks, ‘Daily / Periodic’ tasks. Delegating and overlapping task helps in incorporating more tasks in available time.
  • Time : Create a Time Log (time spending details) to see where the time is going. Mark time wastage and avoidable time spending. Pool your work. For example instead of going to market everyday, list items and purchase in one go. Also you can save time by work pool with friends, family members etc. To drop your child school, you can so arrange with your friend so that your turn is only twice a week. Maintain a planned daily routine which gives you enough time for daily work, important tasks as well as for health promoting activities & relaxation. Keep time for unexpected work. Avoid procrastination & unplanned work to save time.

Health Management

  • Keep health high in priority.
  • Inculcate health promoting habits.
  • Spend time with nature.
  • Maintain personal and surrounding hygiene.
  • Maintain healthy body weight & good posture.
  • Give adequate time to rest and sleep. Avoid long afternoon sleep.
  • Be alert and take necessary precautions to avoid injury. Learn First Aid.
  • Get recommended immunization, regular medical checkup and follow advice.
  • Improve health using natural food & habits, avoid unnecessary health tonics.
  • Generate and maintain healthy environment (physical, chemical, biological etc).
  • Minimize pollutions (air, noise, water etc) and toxins.

Nutrition & Eating Habits
  • Understand the significance of healthy eating.
  • Eat balanced diet to nourish your body.
  • Minimize unhealthy and junk food.
  • Do not skip breakfast. Eat light dinner.
  • Observe regular eating schedule.
  • Do not overload your stomach.
  • Do not eat when not hungry.
  • Chew your food well. Eat slowly.
  • Make required changes in diet according to age, health status, body needs, activity level, climatic & seasonal changes etc.
  • Avoid other activities while eating like talking, reading, watching TV etc.
  • Eating together with family and colleagues improve relationships but take care not to over eat.
Physical activity and Exercise
  • Physical activity and exercise is must for mental & physical health. It helps in staying fit, weight management, improves confidence & self esteem. It also helps in preventing many disease conditions.
  • One must build an attitude of being active, must avoid lethargy and sedentary life. Do not wait for the day when you will be 'ready'.
  • Start now. Incorporate physical activity in day to day life.
  • Make regular exercise a necessary component of everyday life. Do not miss opportunity of physical activity.
  • When you can walk, avoid car.
  • When you can climb stairs, avoid lift. T
  • ake active part in games, sports, dance etc.
  • Find activity buddy.
  • Go for walk with life partner, family members, friends etc.
  • Avoid being couch potato.
  • Eliminate excuses for inactivity.
Self Management
  • There is no teacher better than life itself.
  • It gives an opportunity to learn and grow, to work on self and to make one's mental health and life better.
  • Awareness : Learn to read signals about self in day to day activities & incidents. Be more observant of self & environment without immediate judgment. Be present minded, do not live engrossed in past or future thoughts.
  • Habits : Look for your habitual way of thinking and behavior. See if that is positive for your living or not. Assess reasons behind learning of these habits and change them if required.
  • Emotions : Understand your emotions to understand yourself. It will also help in understanding others and avoiding conflicts. EQ is said to be more helpful for success than IQ. Do not be ashamed of or suppress negative emotions like fear, hatred, jealousy etc. Look for what triggers that emotion. Learn to express your emotions in appropriate manner. Be assertive. Nurture positive emotions like love.
  • Intellect : With modernization, intellectual growth is becoming more and more important. Intellect can be developed by being in intellectually stimulating environment. Engage yourself in activities like reading thought provoking articles, puzzles, crossword, active entertainment, learning new language etc. Gather authentic information. Develop creativity by thinking differently.
Stress Management
  • Stress is the most prevalent factor that affects mental and physical health along with quality of life.
  • Stress can result from almost anything like emotional trauma, bad relationship, work overload, poor personal or professional skills, time pressure, change in life, mishappenings, poor health, grief and so on.
  • Stress can be managed by learning stress coping skills and avoiding the avoidable.
  • Learning problem solving, decision making, conflict solving, goal planning, and organizing life helps in stress management.
Addictions
  • Addictions refers to indulgence in any activity when it predominates & affects one's life, affects mental & physical health, affects relationships and the person is unable to check it.
  • It can be of diverse nature like drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, shopping, gambling, food, TV / Internet, some person or even work.
  • Precaution of not getting into addiction is better than its cure.
  • Addictions are treatable.Take professional help and support of family & friends.
  • Plan deaddiction. Look for any underlying stress. Watch out for triggers. Act with firmness but do not get disheartened by slips. Praise yourself for success. Replace it with some positive activity.
Sexuality
  • Sex & sexuality hold a unique place in human life.Apart from procreation it also serves for self identity, self expression, love, relationships, pleasure, stress release etc. It can be either constructive or destructive depending on its development.
  • Under development of sexuality results in personality disorders, relationship difficulties, aversion to sex, lack of desire & satisfaction, sexual function disorders etc
  • Mal development of sexuality results in sex addiction, relationship difficulties, gender identity disorder, deviant sexual behavior like pedophilia, exhibitionism etc.It can also result in poor adjustment in life and anti social behavior like rape.
  • Healthy development of sexuality results in self confidence, self respect and better relationships. It requires early education. Teenagers must get sex education. They must be told not to rush into sexual activity before physical and mental maturity. They must be helped in developing healthy views and values about sexuality. Everyone must learn about own body, sex and sexuality. Learn about sexual identity, physical attractiveness, sexual orientation etc. One must understand and assume responsibility of sexual behavior. The role of sex and its impact on relationships must be clear. One should get information about sexual disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, deviant sexual behavior, sex addiction, pregnancy & contraception etc. Sex addiction can be prevented by avoiding casual sex and using sexual activity for immediate gratification & escape from frustrations of life.
Recreation
  • Recreation is any socially acceptable activity that gives you fun. It could be indoors or outdoors, singular or in group, activity oriented or learning oriented, physical or mental.
  • Apart from being fun, healthy recreation helps in a number of ways like giving rejuvenation & stress release, it adds to development of personality, it helps in self expression & self identity, it improves physical & mental health, it improves relationships, community participation & social integration, it gives learning opportunity & improves skills, it promotes positive behavior and it can even help in professional growth.
  • Do not take any recreational activity by force or its social status. Explore different options. See what activity you can identify with, which one gives you fun and help you in self expression & self growth. Activities with active involvement are better. Integrate activity well in your life.
Socialization & Relationships
  • Man can not live in isolation. Relationships are said to be the first indicator of person's happiness and quality of life. These can vary from close relationships like family and friends to colleagues, neighbors, business associates, acquaintances and even strangers.
  • Healthy relationships are good for mental health & happiness. Relationships can be kept healthy by proper management. One should be sure about type of relationship, is it short term or long term, professional or personal.
  • Priority : One must be clear about priorities in relationships giving due space, time and involvement to each relationship.
  • Roles : One must clarify the role one is required to be play in relationship.
  • Expectation : One must have realistic expectations for healthy development of relationship.
  • Space : one must create sufficient self space and respect others space.
  • Values : Values like honesty and sincerity are crucial for healthy relationship.
  • Communication : Lack of proper communication is the cause of most relationship problems. Learn the art of communication, assertiveness etc.
  • Conflict resolution : Do not allow conflicts to linger on. Discuss and solve at earliest opportunity.
  • Company : Keep good company. Remember negativity is contagious. Good company will keep you in good spirit and you will automatically pick up life skills.
Work & Finance Management
  • Work / Vocation / Profession is the core of every human being. It takes significant amount of time and energy. It gives a meaning & purpose to live, it gives financial support, self identity, social recognition, feeling of growth & achievement, opportunity for socialization and better health by being active.
  • Work requires ongoing planning. Start with exploring options & your needs, see which identifies best with you, which suits your positive traits and which gives higher opportunities. Keep a track of your growth and needs. One should not be afraid or rigid about change options but it should be a well calculated move. Keep updating your skills.
  • Learn work ethics like commitment, responsibility, efficiency, punctuality and accountability. Take it seriously, have positive & professional approach, Learn and observe soft skills. Have warm but professional relations at work place. Keep your space and respect others. Stay away from negative politics and manipulations.
  • Keep a balance of your professional and personal life. Do not carry your office worries to your home and your home worries to your office. Keep sufficient time for both. If few days are more hectic at work, use holidays to spend good time with family and rejuvenate.
  • Finance : Keep full account of your earning and expenditure. Make budget. Cut wastage like paying interest on credit card. Plan your shopping to save and not over spend. Save some even if it is a small sum. Invest in diversity. Allocate money for different purpose starting from most necessary.
  • Home making must be respected and considered as one of the most demanding work on earth. Most often it goes thankless but it forms the basis of wellbeing, functionality, progress and happiness of entire family and in turn entire society. It requires high levels of working efficiency and skills like time management, resource management, finance management, human resource management etc.
Philosophy of Life
  • Philosophy of life is the set of principles on which life & living is based. It gives the basis of effective functioning and everyday living.
  • Attitude, Values (like truth, humanity, righteousness, justice, love, peace, non violence, coexistence etc), Morals (like honesty, respect, non stealing, etc) Faith & Beliefs form components of philosophy of life. They give an effective code of conduct, freedom from conflicts & peace of mind, self respect and respect in society. They also help in harmony & peaceful coexistence in society.
  • They are learned over a period of time. Modeling and exposure to incidents helps in their learning. One should look at long term gains of upholding such higher philosophy. Do not be shy of accepting mistakes, this will make you stronger.
  • Live every moment of your life with zest and richness. Incorporate richness and positive elements of culture in your everyday life. Cultural traditions, festivals, norms etc gives richness to life, makes life easier and helps in social identification and integration.
Spiritual growth
  • Spiritual growth helps in understanding meaning & purpose of life and living, of self existence & being. It generates a realization of oneness & wholeness. It is not for becoming a saint but to have better consciousness, better awareness and minimum possibility of errors & wrong choices.
  • It helps in living a life without darkness, fear and regrets. It helps to understand deeper meaning of good / evil, pleasure / pain, right / wrong etc. It helps in understanding of compatibility & wholeness of science, civilization, religion, emotions, humanism, nature etc. One should be cautious in not assuming religious rituals & fanaticism or escapism from life as spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is a life long process.
  • It is not necessary to observe severe self denial to attain spiritual growth. It is possible in day to day living by carefully observing the process of life.
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