THERE are five regions across the world – dubbed the 'Blue Zones' – where residents routinely live to the grand old age of 100.
Far from having scored on the genetic lottery, experts studying these populations think their longevity is deeply connected to their lifestyle and routine.
Looks like people living in these spots – Ikaria, Greece; Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Okinawa, Japan; and Sardinia, Italy – must surely be doing something right.
Turns out, one of the pillars of life in these communities is finding ways to feel less stressed.
Blue Zoners get stressed just like the rest of us.
But according to author Dan Buettner – who studied these famed centenarians along with a team of demographers in a bid to "reverse engineer longevity" – inhabitants of the five regions have unique hacks to shed the day's anxieties and take a step back.
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"Stress is one of the leading causes of chronic inflammation. It also has direct links to major age-related health issues, from dementia to Alzheimer’s disease," Dan wrote.
But while many of might hit the gym to calm down, the author noted that Blue Zoners take a gentler approach to tending to their mental health, in what he called 'downshifting'.
Here's four ways you can do like a centenarian in shedding your stress.
1. Take naps
You might think an afternoon kip is just for toddlers who get grumpy unless they get their nap in.
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But residents of all ages in Ikaria, Greece, take the practice very seriously.
According to Dan, "the entire village goes dead during the afternoon nap time".
He suggested added a nap to your daily routine – but if your work schedule doesn't permit it, you could make time for a snooze during the weekend.
Dan cited a Swiss study which suggested that regularly napping might help people lower their risk of heart disease.
Aside from helping your heart, an afternoon nap can also balance your stress hormones, he added.
Other research has suggested that naps could also slash your risk of dementia – while another recommended you crawl into bed for no longer than 30 minutes.
2. Have a happy hour
Brits are no strangers to a happy hour for stress relieving purposes.
But for the best results on your mental health, you might want to do it the Sardinian way and stick to only one or two glasses of wine.
According to Dan, these kinds of happy hours a daily occurrence for many Sardinians.
Their wine of choice? Cannonau, a local variety of red.
For Seventh-day Adventists living in Loma Linda, California, prayer is the biggest stress reliever.
They often head to church every Saturday as a way to unplug from their week.
Taking part in rituals like this – religious or not – can also act as an opportunity to socialise and surround yourself with other people while relaxing into the familiar rhythm of it.
Instead of prayer, you could also turn to mediation or simply take time to reflect on your day.
4. Pay respects to your ancestors
Ancestors are treated with the highest regard in Okinawa, Japan.
Many residents go out of their way to maintain a close connection with them and even take time out of each day to pay their respects.
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According to gerontologist Dr Craig Wilcox this action reduces stress for Okinawans, as it allows them to feel like they're relinquishing their worries to a higher power and that their ancestors are looking out for them.
Instead of thinking about family members past, you might also choose to focus on those around you and give your grandparents a call like Sardinians.
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