How to Live a Longer and Healthier Life [Episode #439]
Today’s solocast topic is: How to Live a Longer and Healthier Life
Beauties, I hope you’re having a wonderful new year so far! Something interesting to consider as we are moving forward into the New Year is our need for community and social connection. I’m going to be sharing with you how it’s possible to live a longer and healthier life through community!
In the world we live in now, people are constantly on their phones or plugged into some piece of technology. Just look around – everyone’s looking down at the device in their hand and not even making eye contact! Society as a whole is shifting more toward individual-based culture, rather than a community or tribe culture.
As a result, our need for connection with others and building community is more important than ever! Community can play an integral role in our overall health, and can be as simple as gathering around a healthy, nourishing meal or enjoying physical activities with friends.
Topics Covered In How to Live a Longer and Healthier Life
#1. The importance of community for physical health and emotional well-being
#2. The shocking side effects of loneliness on health
#3. How community is one of the biggest predictors of longevity
#4. How community and social connection relates to the Solluna philosophy of holistic health and wellness
#5 How to get involved with and build community wherever you are
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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the “Feel Good Podcast with Kimberly Snyder”? My passion is to inspire and empower you to be your most authentic and beautiful self. We offer interviews with top experts, my personal philosophies and experiences, as well as answers to community-based questions around topics such as health, beauty, nutrition, yoga, spirituality and personal growth.
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Kimberly: Hi Beauties. Welcome back to our Monday Solocast podcast where our topic today is how to live a longer and healthier life. I hope your 2020 is off to an amazing start, first of all, and welcome to a new decade. I am very excited to be here, for us to be together, for us to talk about this topic, which is not just about quantity but quality of our day-to-day life, what we want to create, how we want to feel every day, and to take the steps, and the small steps, and the shifts, and the information and apply it to our lives so we really do feel amazing all the time.
Kimberly: I want to share with you, before we get going, as well that I’ve got some updates for everybody in the community. I want to share. We’re all family here. We are all community. We all are here to support each other on our journey to share, so I want to share with all you amazing beauties out there that I am pregnant. I am now about 19 months. We’re almost to the five month mark, and we are having another baby boy. Super excited to share with you, beauties. It was a very tiring, jet lag feeling first trimester. But now that I’m in the second, I’m feeling really, really great. And I just want to say that we have a lot of shows coming up, and information, and even programs we’re going to create coming your way about plant-based pregnancy and fertility in general, which I’m really passionate about. I have a lot of friends, and just acquaintances, and people I know in our community that struggle with fertility. And of course, I want everyone to have this amazing experience that wants to.
Kimberly: We are very fortunate that both cases for me it happened pretty right away, pretty quickly, and I attribute that largely to lifestyle, and all our four cornerstones, and dealing with stress well and … or better than I have in the past, at least, food, diet, lifestyle practices, and so on. So, I can’t wait to share more about it, but I just wanted to share with you beauties the exciting news. We’ll send more updates soon, and sending you so much love. I feel extra abundant. I feel extra full of light and love as we start the new year.
Fan Of The Week
Kimberly: Before we jump into our topic today, I want to give a quick shout-out to our fan of the week. His or her name is Savvy 16. He or she writes, “I love this podcast. Kimberly and company are awesome. She just emanates love and compassion. I love the range of topics and guests on the show. I can listen to the episodes over and over again. And because of the content and message, I find them so helpful. Thank you, Kimberly, and the whole Solluna family for sharing this with us.” Well, Savvy 16, thank you so much for being part of our community. I’m so grateful that we are connected, that we are walking together. Thank you for your review. Thank you for taking the time to do that. I send you a huge virtual hug, and I hope that we get to meet in person one day.
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Kimberly: And beauties, for your chance to also be shouted out as the fan of the week, I would love to read your beautiful words and connect with you. Please just take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes. I hope it is a small ask because it really is just a moment or two out of your day. It can be one sentence. It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s just a great way to support the show. So, I’ll leave it there, but I thank you so much in advance if you could take a moment to do so if you haven’t yet already. And while you’re at it, you can also subscribe to our show. That way, in the midst of busy life, you don’t miss out on any solocast, or interviews, or Q&A podcasts, which are Thursdays, and you just keep that constant source of information, and motivation, and just self-care in your life flowing because there’s so many different aspects of the lifestyle we cover here. And little tip here, little nugget here could really impact your life, and you want to keep that going.
The importance of community for physical health and emotional well-being
Kimberly: All right, beauty. So all that being said, let’s talk about living a longer and healthier life. When we were researching this topic, it was incredible to see that besides food, of course, which is very impactful and of course very important, another big topic came up, and that is community and social connection. This is key to our well-being, and I think this is a part of life that tends to get neglected or not nourished as much as we tend to get busier and busier. In fact, I had read something or somewhere, according to one study, it was saying that 18- to 24-year-olds had the highest rate of depression right now because of being on their phones and social media, but not having real community and real connection. And of course, this age group in particular has grown up in the wave of online social media, and that really to me doesn’t replace real, real connection, which is something that we really do. Again, as we get busier and busier and crazier and crazier, we need to carve it out consciously.
Kimberly: When we had Dan Buettner on the podcast a couple weeks ago, we talked about the centenarians, and the blue zones, and the people that actually do live, by numerically speaking, the longest and healthier lives, least amount of cognitive disorders, highest rates of centenarianism living to be over a hundred. Food was a key key factor. All five of them, all five of the blue zones worldwide eat a mostly plant-based diet. There are 90 to 100% plant based. But besides that, they also have a very strong community structure. The elders feel important. They feel connected. They feel that there are important tasks that are required of them. They feel that they are a vital part of society. They feel woven in. And I think that’s a key thing here. When we start to feel isolated, when we feel that we’re outside, that we’re not part of the whole, this will very much impact our health, as we’ll get into today in some of the research that we found, which is really, really interesting.
Kimberly: So just the way that we were designed, we are meant to be tribal. We’re meant to be community based. We’re not meant to be individuals. When you look in nature, when you look at the gorillas, and the monkeys, and the chimpanzees, which closely resemble our DNA, we say that they travel in families and groups. I saw this firsthand when I was in Rwanda. It was amazing to come across a gorilla family and see how closely connected they were. They would play together, they would share food, they would clean each other, and they really did look out for each other. Then, there are certain animals, like cheetahs, that tend to be very solitary. But that, I do not believe. And more and more anthropological research as well and in sociology, we can see studies show that we tend to always function better when we are part of community.
Kimberly: And that’s really the heart of a Solluna. We have that wholistic approach. We look at things throughout through our four cornerstones, and they are food, body, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth. You guys will hear me talk about this over and over again because it’s a system, I believe, for really feeling our best for owning our true beauty, which is not just physical, but spiritual. Beauty is a very spiritual, all encompassing, a beautiful life, a beautiful relationship. It’s so powerful. And when we connect to our true beauty, we do feel powerful and we do feel our uniqueness. It’s a beautiful state of being to be in.
Kimberly: So when we talk about the four cornerstones, it helps to apply everything, including this topic of living a longer and healthier life through that lens. And again, the third one is emotional well-being. This is very much supported in what we’re talking about today. Living a healthier life, feeling tuned into the whole, and having a really healthy emotional connection with those around us, and society, and having societal interactions regularly, this is really much very much supportive of our overall well-being.
Kimberly: In fact, a study published in the Oxford Journal examined the link between health and community participation. Researchers looked at findings from cultures all around the world. So this was the global study, and they found a very strong connection between community participation and improved health outcomes that were measurable across the board. So again, we know that this is an integral into our well-being. Our emotions and our mental health affect our DNA. They affect our cellular health. They affect our telomeres. I really believe everything is so deeply connected that everything impacts everything else.
Kimberly: And another research article that was published in 2017 by the National Institutes of Health found that individuals who had strong relationships with community, friends, family, those around them tended to have better physical and mental health than those with fewer relationships. It explains that social support is protective during difficult times. It can be protective during stress. And in contrast, it can so wonderfully and dramatically just improve our happiness and our day-to-day experience.
Kimberly: I can also say from personal experience, you guys, since growing more of my own tribe regularly, which for me includes becoming a mother, becoming a mother means for me, or meant for me, that I consciously did seek out mothers groups. And I was meeting regularly in these groups. I was meeting with other women, it felt very tribal, every week, several times a week. And we all know how busy we get, and sometimes it’s easy to postpone seeing a friend or canceling or whatever. But so for me, motherhood has been a huge part of feeling very connected to community, so it’s been a huge, huge benefit for me.
Kimberly: Then, also another big, huge shift for me has been moving to a place that feels in my heart so aligned to who I am. It’s a much … It’s like a homie. I call it small towns vibe place in LA. It’s called Topanga. And whereas Venice and Santa Monica, where I was living before, just … There was cool spots and things to do, but it was transient. There was a lot more people and there was tourists. It was just this flow of people in and out. And by consciously moving to a place that has strong community, I have felt it so much. I have loved all the people I’ve met. There’s been so many groups, and neighborhood get-togethers, and more moms groups, and more circles. So, it’s really, really wonderful. So I can say from personal experience just in the last few years how my happiness has grown so much as I have built more community in my life.
Kimberly: Another study I want to share comes from the psychologist from Carnegie Mellon University, who had held an experiment where 200 participants were exposed to the common cold virus. The team of researchers found that the individuals who had a strong and diverse social network were less likely to develop a cold compared to other participants. They also noticed that people had overall health, better health behaviors, and were more positive in their emotional well-being.
Kimberly: I love the practical nature of this in showing the connection between physical and mental health. If we are more connected, our bodies are stronger. We feel stronger. We feel more resilient. We’re part of the whole. We’re not just dangling on the outskirts vulnerable. And that, of course, does equate to our bodies. In the studies, you can see there was actual data, evidence that people weren’t getting sick as much. So we know that this impacts our immunity, which I think is so beautiful, especially in keeping … knowing this, just keeping the elders in our families tied in with the community, keeping them involved.
Kimberly: My mom passed away a couple years ago, and I was really worried about my dad and his health. Thankfully, our family unit is really open and embracing. My dad lived with us full-time for a while, and now he lives with us about a month, and then he travels for a couple months. He has a little place in Thailand. It’s easy for him to kind of base there and travel around Asia. He has these adventures, and he’s much more stabilized now, processed a lot of the grief. But anyways, just bringing him in and having him see Bubby every day, see his grandson, and be part of the whole really, I think, has strengthened his health. He’s so healthy now. He eats well, and I was worried for a while but … Anyways, it’s just something that we can be aware of. As our loved ones grow older, we want to include them in the fabric of our lives. We want to include them in our community life because it’s so important for their well-being, and it’s that gift that we can give them as well.
Kimberly: Another study I want to point out, because I love how so much of this is documented and backed up by science, is published by Harvard Medical School newsletter. It examines how social support and relationships help to relieve harmful levels of stress, which would cause detrimental effects on the gut immune system and coronary arteries. Furthermore, “Caring behaviors trigger the release of stress-reducing hormones.” So, it’s all interrelated. We know that stress has a negative impact on hormones. It creates inflammation in the body. Inflammation in turn is the precursor for most every disease and every illness. So if we are able to link into community and create that network for our friends and our loved ones and to support each other, we’re going to stay healthier and we’re going to stay stronger.
Kimberly: It’s amazing, again, how much of these … how much research is being done around this. And I think it’s exciting. I think we can all benefit. And if we care about health and wellness, which I know we all do, and if we care about the health and wellness of our loved ones, just remember that emotional health and community could, and I hate to use the word should, but could very much be at the top of our list as we go into 2020 for a way that we can all improve our well-being for our families and ourselves in a way that is fun, and nurturing, and simply feels very, very good.
The shocking side effects of loneliness on health
Kimberly: On the flip side, and I think it’s important to examine both sides, isolation and loneliness. There is a very adverse effect of these things on our health as well, as you can imagine from the opposite of the positivity of community, and we’re all guilty. Listen, I know it’s easy to get sucked into your phone and to go down this rabbit hole, whether it’s YouTube, or Google, or Instagram, or whatever it is. We just got to put our head down and tune out. But, there was a survey released by Cigna in 2018 declaring that loneliness has now become a public health issue, and increased levels of loneliness and isolation are resulting in poor physical and mental health.
Kimberly: Of the 20,000 adults that were surveyed, nearly 50%, that’s half, you guys, 50% reported feeling alone. These reports stated that loneliness has the same impact as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and has even become more dangerous than obesity. Now, this is one survey. I know there’s so many aspects of studies that can refute each other, and I’m certainly not advocating smoking or obesity, but I think it’s interesting that this particular study compared these physical unhealthy habits to actually loneliness. I think that’s something that needs to be paid attention to. Everything affects everything else. And again, our state of being and our connections emotionally has such an impact. Wow. This is mind-blowing to me. I mean, this is something I didn’t think about years ago, by the way. I didn’t really think emotional health could be so impactful. And now, here we are. 2020, the evidence is there.
Kimberly: The National Institute on Aging studied the health effects of loneliness as we age and found that those that are more socially isolated are at a greater risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline, and more.So there you have it, actual functions in the body. I would say of these, we talk about heart disease and a lot of different coronary issues related to the heart.
Kimberly: My third book, Beauty Detox Power, talked about this bridge between Eastern and Western philosophy through this concept called the chakras, which are energy centers in the body. Today, I think what’s applicable is talking about our heart chakra. Of course we have a physical heart, and the heart chakra is also in the center of our chest. It’s our fourth chakra. It’s associated with the color green, and it processes feelings of love and, just like we’re talking about today, connection. In the Eastern philosophy, in the chakra system, which comes from India, Ayurvedic medicine, yoga, we believe that everything affects. So if there is an emotional imbalance in the heart, like love and isolation are connection are lacking, then it can have a physical effect on the heart organ and, again, on issues like heart disease, and circulation, and high blood pressure, and cardiovascular issues.
Kimberly: So again, it’s exciting. We live in an exciting time where research is actually backing up some of these ancient practices, and philosophies, and things that I think we know intuitively. Even if we tend to be more science-minded or data-driven, I think we know that we feel stronger, and we have a little extra bounce in our step, and we feel healthier when we’re more connected. And now there’s more and more data for that. In a biological level, stress from loneliness promotes inflammation in the body, which can lead to higher risk of chronic diseases. I could go on and on about the research. We’ll link to it and some of the show notes. But, I think you get the gist. There’s a lot of it out there.
How community is one of the biggest predictors of longevity
Kimberly: So let’s talk about community. When it comes to aging, community is said to be one of the biggest predictors of longevity. We want to stay connected. We want to stay tribal. And of course we wanted to fill our bodies with nutrients. This is not to negate our first cornerstone, which is food and body practices, like proper sleep and using nontoxic products in our space and on our skin and exercise, but community is something we want to focus on today because sometimes, again, as I mentioned, it’s something that’s easy to sweep to the side in our busy world.
Kimberly: A study published by Harvard claim … In a study published by Harvard, psychiatrists claim that quality relationships can actually act as a buffer from the effects of aging. This is from the Harvard article, “A large Swedish study of people aged 75 and over concluded that dementia risk was lowest in those with a variety of satisfying contacts with friends and relatives. Across the globe,” again, this relates back to Dan’s work with the blue zones and other studies, “we find that those that have community and strong social ties have healthier brains and hearts and also live longer.”
How community and social connection relates to the Solluna philosophy of holistic health and wellness
Kimberly: So, how does this relate back to our four cornerstones? I think you’ve heard me loud and clear. We want to stay connected. We want to stay very community based. From a four cornerstone perspective now, if we want in back out, I want to look at the whole. So it means that from a food perspective, we want to keep doing our daily practices. We want to drink our Glowing Green Smoothie. We want to drink our hot water with lemon. We want to make good choices with our food. We certainly want to cut out dairy, if you have not yet already or reduce it greatly, and also to eat more nutrient dense, efficiently digesting plant foods, and to reduce all animal products. These are wonderful things you can do for your health, longevity, toxicity levels, and immunity all around.
Kimberly: From a body perspective, you want to do yoga or exercise, sleep well, create good sleep hygiene, and use the right products. But the third and fourth cornerstone here, emotional well-being and spiritual growth, are so tied to this idea of community. And true health, true beauty really does consider this whole. This is the glow you get from the inside out. This is the glow that comes from love, and compassion, and feeling connected instead of disconnected from those around you.
Kimberly: Spiritual growth is also nurtured by community because we can come together in groups. We can meditate together. We can create practices with our partner or families. We can go walking in nature or we can sit together. We can journal together. And I think that’s important as well. I know that I meditate with my husband. He comes to meditation service with me at the Self-Realization Fellowship. It’s just a really important part of our lives. We all say grace together. So, it’s a really nice thing to share, and that also feels like it strengthens connections.
Kimberly: I think processing emotions together in a like-minded community, as we do in the Solluna Circle every month, is a powerful way to create more emotional well-being and to get through difficult times. I started my first two moms groups, and now they’ve expanded as Bubby started preschool and I’ve met so many more new amazing moms at his preschool. He started this year. But I have to tell you, when we started those moms groups, Bubby was about eight weeks old. And then right when Bubby turned one was when my mom passed away. Those moms were so supportive. And for the weeks leading up to it, I would cry and still didn’t come all the time, but sometimes I would go to the groups and it was really helping to give me some emotional support to get through it. Those moms to my day, I feel like … to this day, I feel like we went through so much together, and they saw so much, and helped me through so much. I feel connected to those women forever. Even if our kids go to different schools, even if we don’t see each other all the time, we do semi-regularly get together now. And wow, that was really, really, really critical for me. And I am so grateful. I think it would’ve just been a much harder time had I not had that community. So, just want to share that with you guys.
How to get involved with and build community wherever you are
Kimberly: I also want to share some tips now on how to build your own community. Because this may sound really great and exciting to you, but maybe you’re thinking to yourself, which is what I hear a lot from a lot of people, “I don’t have time,” or, “I don’t know how to meet new people.” This is the reason I have a lot of friends that are online dating as well for the same reasons. They say, “Well, I don’t have time to go out everywhere, and it’s hard to meet people.” I will say, first off the bat, that if we put this intention out there that we want to build community and that it’s an important priority for us, things will start aligning and opening up. I think first we have to create that intention and we have to really want it. We have to make it a priority, and I think we have to stay open. And if we have an open energy … And it’s very expansive. First of all, it’s very attractive. I think that openness does attract more community, more connections, more friends to us, and we’re able to build, again, with that intention, with putting ourselves out there in a much, much easier way.
Kimberly: Here are some tips to build more community. I’m not saying that you ditch your friends now. I mean, this can be layered on top. You can expand your group of friends. You can create more friends. I mean, we all know sometimes friends are busy or as you grow on the journey you’re looking for some more different like-minded friends perhaps to join your circles. So, it’s not all or nothing. It’s just about expansion, really.
Kimberly: I think that an easy way is to join a yoga studio or gym. And depending on the gym, the kinds of classes that you attend, there can be a community vibe. When I was in New York, most of my friends came from my yoga studio. That’s because it was a vibe with a lobby situation where everybody sort of hung out in the lobby and talked and chatted after class, and people got to know each other. So it may not be every yoga studio or gym, but if you look around, you’ll start to notice a vibe and you’ll start to notice people. And actually, one of my very dear friends here, Ada, I met at a yoga class when I … a couple of years ago. We would practice together on the mat. If you see the same people around your class, go ahead introduce yourself. Say hi. You’re practicing together. You’re around each other. I feel like sometimes people around each other in class and they don’t really talk. When I used to teach yoga, I used to encourage people to go around and introduce themselves. I think that’s a really great thing to do, is be open at the classes you are. You never know who you might meet.
Kimberly: Likewise, if you are into meditation or if you’re into prayer or some sort of spiritual group, that’s a really great way to bond and connect. At Lake Shrine at Self-Realization Fellowship where I go, there’s really wonderful people around. And I’ve actually met a very, very dear mom friend from the little mom children’s group or there’s like a … It’s not a group. It’s a room. Because when Bubby started making a lot of noise during service, he had to go sit in this separate room. But just by it being open, I met a really amazing mom friends in there. So, these places are also really great for meeting community.
Kimberly: Next, I think it’s great to reach out to friends and family that you haven’t connected to that much and to reconnect bonds. Something that I’ve been meaning to do, and I admit I put it off, but I’m going to do it this week, is write to a couple of my cousins that I don’t talk to that much. But every time I see them, especially these two girl cousins that we’re all around the same age, I love them, and we have such a great time. But then they live on the East Coast, and then time goes by, and then we don’t always connect. Actually, three cousins. So, just making a little bit more of an effort and feeling connected in and more of an effort to get together, I think, is great, too. So anyways, you know what that means for you, friends, family members you haven’t spoken to in a while. Maybe just hearing this there’s a few that’s spark right away that come into your mind.
Kimberly: Then, I love these little clubs that are around, especially around here. They have garden clubs, art clubs, book clubs. I think when you have a mutual interest and it’s something … There’s even dinner clubs, social clubs. There’s all sorts of meetups, and there’s apps around this. So again, never feel like, “Oh gosh. I don’t know how to meet anybody.” Just do some research and find, and then there’s so much amazing community available to you.
Kimberly: Next, as I mentioned, a moms group or a dads group. If you are a parent, I think it can be very overwhelming and very lonely to be a mom sometimes if you’re home a lot. There’s just a lot going on at every stage of your child’s life, and joining a moms group is wonderful. I can say from experience. I have so many amazing mom friends now, but I had to extend myself. I had to first research the groups. And now it’s more informal. It’s just a bunch of parents that … moms that get together from Bubby’s school. But in the beginning, as I mentioned, I had joined some formal groups, and it was amazing. It was really amazing. So, I definitely encourage that.
Kimberly: Next, especially if you’re feeling isolated because of your location or your job, I want to talk about some online, the online community and the online networks that are more curated and more loving, I think, than just the general mass of social media. There is this term, this scientific term, compare and despair. And even though you may be trying to use it to feel supported, sometimes platforms like Instagram can make us feel more isolated and bad about ourselves. So you want to curate online groups that are positive, and inspiring, and just feel good to you, and there are … Just again, you can research. You can check them out.
Kimberly: One I want to bring up to you, if you don’t know already, because I personally put a tremendous amount of love into it, is our Solluna Circle. It’s online. It’s very low entry. It’s $5.55 a month to join. It’s about exploring a monthly theme where we go through all these cornerstones, food practices, bodily practices, emotional well-being, and spiritual practices, and meditations. So, we process it. We process it together. It’s individual work, but then there’s an online community where with like-minded people. And you can share your journaling. You can share your insights about the topic. You can connect with other like-minded people. I know that … And we also do the circles in person and in different cities. We’re doing some in New York, LA. I do one in Dallas. We’ll be doing more and more in person when possible.
Kimberly: But, the online Solluna Circle is so low cost. It’s so easy to enter. I think it’s a really great way to stay tuned in and that way you don’t feel lost, you don’t feel isolated, especially, again, if you’re looking for like-minded people. And if you’re listening to this podcast right now, you are one of us, for sure. We all belong to each other. We are here. We are of a certain vibration, I believe. We are looking for loving, positive, great people to talk to. So, check it out. Anyways, I won’t go on too much. But, it’s at mysolluna.com. You’ll see all the information on the Solluna Circle.
Kimberly: So all that being said, I just want to conclude here and say we’re all in pursuit of happiness, and health, and a long beautiful life. I hope now, after all that we’ve talked about, and all the research, and all of the just introspections, that you are inspired to build or/or nurture your community this year. Again, it’s such an important, beautiful, fun, and powerful way to build your health, and your well-being, and your longevity. The impacts are physical, and we can feel it. We can feel so good, and it’s a great thing to do.
Kimberly: So, check out the show notes, especially if you’re interested in reading more about some of the research, and the studies, and some of the resources that we talked about. Thank you so much for tuning in. Sending you so much love, and blessings, and lights, and gratitude as we go into this new decade, into this new year. I think it’s going to be a really great, exciting one for all of us. I will see you back here Thursday for our next Q&A podcast. Till then, beauties, sending you love, love, love, love, love. Take care of yourself, and I’ll see you soon.