The start of the New Year is a time for new beginnings. The first month of the year – January is also considered to be “Quality of Life” month.
What exactly is quality of life? Quality of life (QoL) is a concept which aims to capture the well-being, whether of a population or individual, regarding both positive and negative elements within the entirety of their existence at a specific point in time. Simply put – the various physical, physiological, emotional and social aspects contribute to the quality of life. This is very subjective since the benchmark varies not just from person to person but also depends on the social and cultural fabric in which the individual lives.
To focus and arrive at some common factors we are going to look at an individual from a lifestyle perspective and the generic factors that impact the lifestyle. It is indisputable that a healthy individual enjoys a better quality of life than a person who is unwell or chronically sick.
Various factors affecting the QoL include - Nutrition; Physical activity; Sleep; Stress; Nature
Let us understand each factor in a little more detail –
Nutrition: The food we eat needs to nourish our body and mind. It must be abundant in good quality nutrients. Most of the food we eat today is devoid of adequate nutrients due to a lot of processing and lack of fibre. Fibre holds onto nutrients and also helps in eliminating toxins apart from keeping us full for longer. The phytonutrients in fruits & vegetables act as anti-oxidants which reduces inflammation. This in turn helps in better body metabolism – physically, physiologically and mentally thereby improving the QoL.
Physical activity: This need not necessarily be working out in a Gym or any form of structured physical activity, but the emphasis should be more on movement through the day in different ways. If you are in a desk job, setting an alarm and walking around for 10mins every hour; doing some stretches at regular intervals; joint mobility exercises; walking to the grocery store or the market; climbing up stairs etc can be good forms of movement. Any regular and consistent Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) movements can help.
Sleep & Stress: The body works on maintenance, repair and healing during our sleep time. A good quality sleep will make us feel more refreshed, more energetic thereby improving our overall quality of life. The ability to handle stress / manage stress well also impacts our overall quality of life. A good sleep will reduce stress and reduced stress will ensure good, restful sleep. So, it is important to focus on both of these aspects.
Nature: Studies have shown that being in nature and regular connection with nature is calming and rejuvenating. It is important to establish this connection which in turn helps in improving our quality of life.
Apart from the above, having a good financial setup (in such a way that basic necessities are taken care of without any stress) and enjoying loving and committed relationships with people goes a long way in maintaining and improving the overall quality of life.
In conclusion, not just health (physical & emotional), but financial well-being and relationship well-being also play a critical role in an individual’s quality of life.