Sunday, December 18, 2016

five simple ways to make a difference (in your life, and in others')

Tis the season for giving and for looking to how we can better ourselves in the coming year.  Here are 5 simple things you can do throughout the year to have a positive impact on your life and on others'.

Donate Blood
   It costs you nothing but an hour of your time, and can help save someone else's life - that's a pretty cool return on investment.  Beyond the altruistic gains, an added bonus for men (and women who don't have a period) is a reduction in oxidative iron, and an associated lower risk of cardiovascular disease (source) and cancer (source).  Whole blood donations can be done every 8 weeks, so set a reminder in your phone and start saving lives (including your own!).  Google "where can I donate blood" for a flurry of options.

Get More Sleep
   I won't belabor this point much since you've been hearing it your whole life.  Get adequate sleep (7-8 hours) and get quality sleep (no food or booze at least 2 hours before sleep), and everything changes.  You'll be happier and healthier if you make this a priority in life.

Give What You Can
   Too few of us donate to charity, especially in younger generations that are struggling with increased debt, lower levels of saving, and uncertain job opportunities - it's understandable that donating would fall fairly low on a list of priorities.  But I encourage you to look over your situation and see what you might be able to consistently give, and then set up a percent of your income to be donated each month.  It's easy to forget the millions of people suffering around the world as we go about our daily routines, and our US dollars can go a long way in foreign countries.  Several websites help you better understand the basics of charitable giving and pick effective charities:

Eat Less Meat; Eat Better Meat
   As I wrote in a recent post, eating grass-fed meat means eating a better balance of omega-3s and omega-6s, which plays a crucial role in our basic cell biology, and many accompanying processes (simply read the last paragraph of the long quote in this post - the balance of omega-3s and omega-6s matters!).  It also generally means sustainable farming practices, less animal cruelty, and supporting local business.
   If your concern is the added cost, an easy solution is eating less meat (less meat at a higher cost = more meat at a lower cost).
   Local farms are popping up all over as the demand for healthier meat grows.  Some quick googling will certainly yield options in your area - if I can find local grass-fed meat in central New Jersey, you can certainly find options near you.  And if you happen to be in central NJ, I recommend:

Drink More Water; Drink Less (No) Soda
   Similar to "get more sleep", you've been hearing "drink more water" your entire life.  Too many of us roll through life dehydrated, and our bodies and minds suffer for it.  Take a week, and aim to drink 1/2 an ounce of water per pound of body weight, each day - how do you feel?
   And you know that soda / pop is horrible for you, right?  Then why are you still drinking it?  Cut the cord, fight the addiction (yes, it is), and find your health.  If you're a heavy consumer, then step down for a month.  Make a daily chart to track consumption, place it somewhere that you can't miss it, aim for 1/2 of your current quantity for 2 weeks, 1/2 of that quantity for the next 2 weeks, and then cut it completely.  It's always easier if you can find a friend to join you on the journey, or make a bet with someone so you've got money on the line.

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