All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, the best seller by Robert Fulghum, is a book about the basic rights and wrongs of life – simple, clear, concise. While they come from things we learn early on, they apply throughout our lives, and some are especially important because they can keep us not only in good standing with relatives, friends and colleagues but also in good health.
So here is some health giving wisdom we learned early on in life:
Take a Nap
Taking a little siesta, during the day comes with health benefits according to scientific research – benefits like more productivity, a lifting of the spirits; and it even reduces the risk of heart disease. Did you know that even important and very busy people, like the late President John F. Kennedy, have been known to have the childish habit of taking a daily nap?
Companies are losing billions of dollars a year due to employee stress and burn out, most of which can be prevented. Even the Huffington Post has two nap rooms in its head office. (Suggestion here that this privilege not be misused.)
Hands on with hobbies and projects
Doing something tactile stimulates your brain and may foster your next brilliant idea. Most of us spend a great deal of our day at a computer screen. Research shows that using your hands – like digging in the garden or woodworking – actually stimulates your brain more than moving other parts of your body. (I have to assume that does not include typing on a keyboard, or we would all be in nirvana.) It also shows that this type of physical activity helps alleviate underlying symptoms of depression.
Another great way to manage stress and worry is by giving to others through your time and talent – like mowing the neighbour’s lawn or helping with a home repair. Not only is this a great way to de-stress, but it also brings meaning and fulfillment to our lives.
Unplug and Play
Perhaps you have heard the saying, ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’? There is probably more truth to the saying than most realize. Play is an antidote to stress and depression – it can lift our spirits and even improve our creativity. Research indicates that without play it is hard to give your best at work or at home.
Fresh air may be a simple remedy for what ails you. Unplugging and taking a break can help you return to work recharged and inspired. Consider taking this time – even sharing a joke and a laugh – as a great investment in your wellbeing.
“Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.” Robert Fulghum
Take a Time Out
In the kindergarten version, you got to do this when you were starting to lose your temper. The adult version here may be the ‘step back, take a deep breath’ moment. Take a moment to collect your thoughts so you don’t do or say something you might regret. Today people are being encouraged to do this not only in a tense moment but also as a regular daily routine. Prayer, meditation, and other mindfulness practices are front and center in the health recommendations.
Forgive and Forget
A sincere apology, as WebMD reports can decrease anxiety and heart rate levels and even make you sleep better at night. And forgiveness may bring enormous benefits to the person who gives that gift, according to recent research. If you can bring yourself to forgive and forget, you are likely to enjoy lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a drop in the stress levels studies suggest.
Prayer is an effective way to open your heart to forgive. Considering another as a beloved child of a divine parent may help you to see that person in a new light. The reward of forgiveness is a freedom that empowers the forgiver and expands our ability to love and be loved.
For years, political and religious figures, such as Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, have demonstrated the beauty and effectiveness of forgiveness in action. Forgiveness is a common teaching across many faiths and a prominent theme in the Scriptures: Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)
Did we forget some of the wisdom of our early years? Do some of these child-like activities promote happiness and less stress in our lives? If the saying ‘with age comes wisdom’ is true, then perhaps we would benefit to recapture some of these lessons learned long ago.