I am not a doctor neither a health expert nor an alternative medicine therapist. My only qualification is that, by God’s grace I live a medicine- free life at the age of 73 years plus. To remain healthy I rely on my own observations, common sense and gut feelings. The body has its own unique system of early warning of malfunctioning. I pay serious heed to it. There is a general impression that defence personnel remain fit long after retirement. It is true. But it is not the whole truth. It depends on how the individual has chosen to maintain his post retirement lifestyle. Everybody spends his life in his own way. So the results are different.
I wish to share what I learnt about health in my life that helps me to remain disease free.
A healthy lifestyle has two different chapters. The first chapter contains lifestyle in young age up to retirement. The second chapter talks about the correct lifestyle in post-retirement time. I will talk about both and I will confine my coverage within urban middle class citizens, because I have never lived in a village or urban slum.
Suggested Healthy Lifestyle before Retirement
What I truly believe is my MIND is who I really am and my BODY is where I really live. Therefore, it is most essential to keep the mind in good order and the body liveable in excellent state.
Mental Well Being
Unfortunately 18% of global population suffer from mental health disorder and depression. India is having a fair share of this growing menace. What complicates the issue is that a large number of people in India lack awareness of mental illness and avoid taking treatment. For them mental illness and insanity are synonymous. If left untreated the illness aggravates and leads to serious consequences. It is surprising to know that suicide death rates in India are amongst the highest in the world. A large proportion of suicides occur at younger ages. Out of the total number of people committing suicide between 15 and 29 years of age, 40% are males and 56% are females. This is a cause of serious concern. Loneliness, performance stress, unsuccessful love affair, economic issue and domestic disharmony are some of the major factors leading to breakdown of mental health. Stress to a certain extent is good but not beyond it. Unfortunately in modern life different types of stress prove to be killer factor. Therefore one has to tackle stress at all costs. One can himself understand when stress is getting him and he is about to go into a depression. Psychiatric and Psychological treatments are time consuming and expensive. Moreover the medicine prescribed for such ailments mostly induce sleep which may hamper day to day work life. I may share a few things which I personally do for keeping stress under control. I will only touch some points here to remain mentally fit:
- Faith in God. He takes care of all of us. While personally doing as best as possible to solve a problem, regular prayer to God for help is beneficial. When you believe that at the end God will take care, the amount of stress reduces. But one needs to reaffirm this to himself every time and every day.
- One should try to figure out what worst can happen if he fails. More often than not, one finds that total failure is not that scary. The situation can still be managed if it happens. This will free the mind. Then one can work with a lighter mind.
- Two times every night (Just before falling asleep and the time when one is half asleep before waking up), the subconscious mind remains accessible to us. At such times, self- talk or auto-suggestion regarding goals, desires and need for solutions may bring about miraculous results.
- Developing an emergency fund to sustain temporary loss of job. This will take care of the feeling of insecurity.
- Live in a slightly lower standard than you can really afford to and being satisfied with what you have provides peace of mind. Living tomorrow’s life with luxury goods and services purchased on loan money creates stress.
- Isolated nuclear family is the order of the day. We do not have close people, as in a joint family to share worries. Therefore, it is a good idea to share worries with your spouse and even with children. Surprisingly children can understand more than we think they are capable of.
- Physical exercise is a good stress buster. One need not go to gym to bust stress. Brisk walk in the open, free hand exercises and simple yoga exercises can take care of rejuvenating mental energy.
- Meditation for even a short period per day is a beneficial practice to relax mind. When you perform puja with sandal paste, flowers and incense a kind of aroma therapy also relaxes your mind.
- Hobbies are good diversions for a stressed mind. Hobbies need not be expensive. In earlier days people used to get together in the evening at temples and sing kirtan in groups with a ‘dholak’ in the centre at the top of their voice. To my mind group singing is one of the best stress busters.
- Keep in touch with relatives in a pleasant way but not with any ulterior motives. They will sense it and run away.
- Make a group of friends like childhood friends, school / collage mates who are not connected with economic professional reasons. You can spend time with them, carefree as in olden days.
- Cut short time on TV, mobile phone and multimedia.
- Get into the habit of book reading.
- Invest more time in healthy sleep of 6 to 8 hours every day. Avoid late nights as far as possible. Mental muscles relax and subconscious mind work during sleep. Learning to blank out mind is a good way of sinking into asound dreamless sleep. The ability of Systematic relaxing body muscles and self-hypnosis help a lot to get good healthy sleep.
- Food has great impact on mood and mind. Eat healthy food in moderation which can keep you cheerful..
- If possible go out for a short trip once in a while. For unwinding purpose any quiet place away from home will do. Guided trips by tour organizers in exotic places in India and abroad are good as talking points to show off. But when you return from such trips, you feel more exhausted physically, emotionally and economically.
- Finally if you feel you need psychological or psychiatric help, do not hesitate to go to a qualified doctor at the earliest before it gets complicated.
Physical Well Being
A healthy mind cannot stay in a sick body. Therefore it is equally important to maintain a healthy body. I am presuming here that we are not looking for becoming body builders. Whatever type of body we may have inherited from God through parents, we must keep it in full working order. For this only a down to earth lifestyle and discipline is required. I will touch upon a few points:
- Healthy food. It does not mean expensive or exotic food. Nature creates seasonal vegetables and local fruits exactly as needed by our body depending on the region and season. It is much better to eat guavas in Allahabad in the winter than eating expensive Australian apples.
- Avoid all kinds of junk-food and processed food. Avoid excess of salt and sugar.
- Seeds like pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, black and white sesame seeds and Sun-flower seeds, sprouted seeds like Bengal grams are store houses of nutrition and minerals. Include them in food. Juice of one lemon fulfils your needs of Vitamin C for the day.
- Healthy Sleep. 6 to 8 hours of healthy sleep is essential depending on the individual. Sleep is the most abused part of our life. We celebrate till late night; we do not sleep in grief or sadness, if in trouble we cannot sleep due to anxiety, if we have examination we study through the night and so on. We need an excuse NOT to sleep. But the body repairs itself during sleep between 10p.m to 5 a.m. The constantly active organs like heart, brain and kidney get some rest during sleep to get energised.
- Ban alcoholic drinks and other intoxicating substances from life altogether. Avoid frequent snacking.
- Keep a close watch on weight gain. Obesity is already turning into an epidemic in India. Obesity is the root cause of many diseases and early deaths. Do not ignore unwanted weight gain.
- Make regular exercises in any form an integral part of life.
- Develop healthy habit of remaining well groomed and clean. Regular toilet habits, brushing teeth twice a day and bathing everyday work wonders to your general health.
- At least for some time in a day expose yourself to natural sunlight and open air.
- Keep environment clean the way you keep a temple clean. Indian government has not been able to keep viral infections effectively at bay. Occurrences of Malaria, Dengue, Chicken guniya, blood flue are regular annual features. Covid 19 has beaten them all in infecting population en-mass. Cleanliness is extremely essential to remain healthy and alive.
- Drink 4 to 6 litres of water every day. To keep a check on water intake, one can keep 4 to 6 glass bottles filled with drinking water early in the morning and ensure to finish them by night. Definitely drink water and wash face, hands and feet with cold water before going to sleep.
- For occasional normal health issues dependence on alternative medicines are simpler and free of side effects than modern medicines. Of course in serious health issues and emergencies one has to consult allopathic doctors and hospitals.
- A thorough Health check-up every year for all in a family is cheaper than falling ill. It should be done religiously.
- Medical expenses are going astronomical year after year. Office may provide health insurance to their employees. Usually the covered amount varies between rupees two to three lakhs which is highly inadequate. People tend to remain unaware of this fact. Again when one is out of employment between two jobs, he does not have health cover. It is wise to take a health insurance policy privately for health safety at all times.
Healthy Lifestyle after Retirement
A well planned and well executed working life is the key to an enjoyable post retirement life. This is the time when one is supposed to be financially settled, loan-free, free of family responsibilities and have his own dwelling unit. Immediately on retirement a kind of void takes place in mind. Usually people react to this new situation in two different ways:
- They refuse t do any work and want to only relax.
- They think that they have not yet gone old. They start a second inning of their career and achieve more materialistic goals in life.
Both the reactions stretched to the extreme are not good for health. In the first case, when one wants to completely relax, he stops following all regular and healthy habits to remain physically fit. Moreover his empty mind may lead to avoidable anxiety, stress and worry because human mind cannot remain idle. More often than not they start suffering from a series of physical illnesses.
The second set of people finds it very difficult to accept advancing age and resultant decreased physical efficiency. They challenge their old body and mind to work like when they used to be young. They try to run 10 k.m. at a stretch or play several games of squash continuously. Inability to accept old age and taking excessive physical / mental strain combined with ambition of achieving more worldly success may lead to catastrophic results. My suggestions of leading a balanced retired life are:
- Indulge in mental / physical activities of your choice to a limited extent without exerting too much.
- Keep ambitions under control.
- Look after the mental and physical health of self and spouse.
- Do such things which you could not enjoy during working life due to paucity of time or money.
- Involve yourself more with grandchildren. They are the biggest stress busters gifted by God.
- Help children by all means when they need. But do not interfere in their personal, official or social lives.
- Allow yourself small luxuries as rewards well earned.
- Your old friends are on the way out of this world and no one knows when the turn will come for whom to leave. Old friends cannot be replaced again. Therefore, keep in touch and enjoy with them as much as possible.
- Have food in moderation and insist on eating healthy food.
- Have about 8 hours of sleep between 10 p.m and 6 a.m.
- Spend some time in meditation and worship
- Remain generally happy because nobody has seen tomorrow.
The above suggestions are by no means comprehensive. These can be used just as guideline or triggering points for detailed studies.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amit Kumar Goswami is a quiet person who likes to steer clear of controversies and arguments. He is a sensitive observer and his pen does the story telling about what he observes while never being judgemental. His infective emotional intensity makes the reader involved enough to be mentally
participate in the story he tells. Perhaps he carries the genes of literature in his blood.
Born in 1947 in the family of a very middle class family of educationists, he grew up in a literary environment. His father was a scholar and a writer who taught Bengali literature in an eminent university as the Head of Department. His maternal grandfather and an uncle were also renowned professors and authors. He himself did his master’s degree in English literature. But some other things he has in his genes that he did not inherit. It is his spirit of adventure and undying wanderlust.
This prompted him to join the Indian Air Force as a commissioned officer in 1970. In the IAF he did his duties well, but he never allowed the sensitivity of mind die off in the rough and tough military environment. The frequent postings all over India allowed him to know people of different states as they are right in their homes. He realised that joys and sorrows of all are the same despite their cultural and language differences. In the secular environment of the Armed Forces, he participated in Durga Puja, Gurupurav, Christmas and Eid with equal fervour endearing himself to all.
On the other hand his sensitive heart absorbed all the pain and fears while looking after young family of his friend when the friend never returned home after an air crash. Once he had to do a so called puja and pose as a Guru to convince a young mother, when no one was able to take away the body of her dead child from her lap.
He is a die-hard learner and he learnt varied subject and excelled wherever his colorful career took him. During the last leg of service he was deeply into indigenous substitution of expensive airborne spares and other imported military wares. After retirement he manufactured bulletproof jackets, sold life insurance and mutual funds, gave consultancy on establishing and running a tourist resort, advised on health through the practice of reiki, molecular Ayurveda and much more. All these immensely enriched his mind.
He communicates well and makes friends easily. He can set frequency with old and young with equal ease. Perhaps that is why he avoids mentioning his rank of Wing Commander to appear as close to the next door neighbour as possible. Now right at the ripe old age of 73 he drives around different places of the Himalayas to communicate with nature and God. He also likes to share his rich experience through his writings. “Rear View Mirror” is the first book which he has recently published and many more will follow.