The Six Pillars of Well-Being.
Aging well is based on a non-medical approach to promoting your health and whole self well-being. It’s fundamental to increasing your quality of life so you can nurture your body and mind in order to thrive. Salveo’s Six Pillars of Well-Being are the foundation of wellness and are simple and accessible at any age: Hydrate, Nourish, Move, Sleep, Breathe, and Love.
To understand the importance of hydration, we must only look inward. Our bodies are made up of 70 percent water. We don’t just thirst for it — we need it to survive.
Water is a balm for everything within us. It’s essential for our brain function and helps our metabolism and digestive systems work properly by converting nutrients into energy. Plus, it supports kidney function, helps circulate oxygen in the bloodstream, lubricates the joints, aids the lymphatic system in flushing out toxins, and makes us feel full and satiated.
Our skin loves water, too. Without hydration, it becomes dry, flaky, and dull. The more hydrated you stay, the better you’ll be able to keep wrinkles and fine lines away. No luxury department store cream or fancy facial can give your skin the same benefits as proper hydration.
Movement can make every aspect of your life better. Feeling down? Exercise. Can’t sleep? Exercise. Trying to manage your weight? Exercise. Want to keep your mind sharp? Exercise. The best part is that it’s fun, free, and accessible to anyone at any age.
Let’s start with the positive-energy side of things: endorphins. By stimulating the release of these “pleasure” brain receptors, exercise helps improve your mood and also reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. In fact, studies show that people who work out at least two or three times a week experience significantly less depression, anger, and stress than those who exercise less frequently.
Exercise also plays a pivotal role in fighting Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers found that regular exercise enhances mental cognition not only by repairing and protecting your existing brain cells but also by triggering the growth of new cells in the hippocampus, a part of the brain that plays a crucial role in learning and memory.
There are even more reasons to get up and move. Exercise supports bone and joint health. It boosts our immune systems and aids our digestive functions, helps us get better, deeper sleep, and can lower our risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer by up to 50 percent.
As we enter midlife, our approach to eating should be simple: Eat real foods as close to their natural state as possible. That makes us feel good and fuels us with the energy and mental clarity we need to live each day to its fullest. In today’s information age, it’s easy to get bombarded with diet advice from doctors, celebrities, and athletes, not to mention your next-door neighbors. Yet the reality is that we are all different and need to find what works for us. Most of all, we need to be empowered to understand what’s in our food, where it’s sourced, and how it makes us feel. Bottom line: Food is fabulous, food is essential, and food is medicine.
Sleep is one of nature’s greatest gifts — for so many reasons. It allows our nervous systems to rest, our immune systems to strengthen, and our bodies to restore and rejuvenate. It’s also when our brain repairs cells, eliminates toxins, and builds new connections that support learning and memory.
There is no doubt: Sleep is the foundation of health, and without regular deep sleep, we risk mood swings, brain fog, dull skin, and so many other frustrating but preventable symptoms. Lack of sleep also leads to increases in ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry, and decreases in leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full. As a result, you’re apt to eat more when you’re sleep deprived which can lead to weight gain.
Sleep shouldn’t be viewed as a luxury for a select few or a chore that must be completed. It must be celebrated for its vital role in our well-being. It may seem like an idle time when we lay our heads on the pillow each night. But it’s quite the contrary; there is a lot of amazing work taking place when we get our optimal 7-9 hours of shut-eye each night.
Understanding how and why we sleep can help reframe how sleep is valued and our attitude toward it, which should make bedtime something to be welcomed, not dreaded.
For sleep to be truly restorative, one needs to cycle through different stages of sleep — ideally four to five cycles. Recent breakthroughs in science show us that each sleep stage plays a unique role in our biology, with different brain wave activity and restoration for the body. It is particularly important that you enter the two “deep sleep” stages each night because this is when your brain undergoes a natural detoxification, allowing it to heal and improve memory storage. You also want to be sure to have as much uninterrupted sleep as possible so you get to the REM stage of sleep, when your brain processes important cognitive events, and you intuitively start to eliminate stress and tension. Think of it as an uninterrupted therapy session for your brain.
Our culture values productivity over relaxation and action over rest. For many of us, there’s always something else to do, someplace to go, someone to help, or some problem to solve. The reality is that constant activity — being “always on” — takes a serious toll on our mental health, wreaks havoc on our nervous system, and can lead to a multitude of health issues.
Although some stress is good for us, triggering our sense of ambition, competitiveness, and energy, most of us are living with too much. Moreover, the chronic stress state is one of the biggest causes of diseases today, causing inflammation in the brain, suppression of the immune system, and premature aging, just to name a few. The good news is, there are many ways we can regulate and manage our nervous system and bring it more into balance, making us healthier and happier.
So, what is our opportunity here? Quite simply, it’s learning to make our nervous system our ally. We can do this by consciously using the amazing tool of our breath. You don’t need to be a yogi to tap into your breath; you just need to be curious about its impact and learn how to breathe properly. The breath can become your greatest tool for helping manage how you react and respond to things out of your control. This can be very empowering.
For many, it comes down to prioritizing stillness. Taking time to connect with our breath, unwind the tense body, and calm the hyped-up mind is an act of self-love. When you actively take the time to restore yourself, you show up better for everyone else in your life. As the old saying goes: You can’t fill from an empty cup.
We all want to feel loved. We all want to feel like our life has purpose and meaning. We all want to believe that we’re part of something bigger than ourselves.
At the end of the day, we all want to feel connected.
Good things happen when we feel connected to ourselves, others, and the world around us. We get a sense of security, resiliency, and a lot more confidence. We realize that connection is as fundamental a human need as food, water, and air. The very fact that it’s crucial to our survival is why developing and maintaining connections should be part of your overall health program, just like diet and exercise. Building and maintaining quality relationships is so important because it’s linked to our health. When we’re in a positive relationship, we feel calmer, which can translate to lower blood pressure. Doctors have reported that patients who had the support of loved ones after cardiac bypass surgery had a better recovery and survival rate than those who didn’t. And the American Heart Association has recognized “broken heart syndrome” as a cause of death following the death of someone close.
Advances in technology have allowed us to more easily communicate from our couches, order food to our doorsteps, and virtually conduct classes and meetings. This certainly has benefits, but we must also be cognizant of how our human connections play a critical role in our health and well-being. The key is to find creative ways to stay connected and avoid loneliness. It’s possible to feel lonely while among other people. And you can be alone yet not feel lonely, especially if you have developed a good relationship with yourself.
RESOURCES + TOOLS
It’s important that you are open to learning about yourself, your needs and what works for you. A great place to start is by taking responsibility for your own health and feeling empowered to take action to nurture yourself by making small, simple changes.
Nurture and Thrive is the perfect “handbook” for the aforementioned pillars! Enter at any point of the book, take your time and have some fun along the way. Most of all, enjoy how it feels to truly thrive.
In addition, here are links to videos with some tips for each of the Six Pillars of Well-Being: