100 top tips for living
-- David M Gordon / The Deipnosophist
100 top tips for living
It's the 100th issue this week of Body & Soul, The Times Saturday supplement. To celebrate, here are 10 tips for a better life from 10 of Soul's leading experts.
SIMON CROMPTON: Body maintenance
1 Get married and live happily ever after — statistics show that single men in particular are at significantly greater risk of death than men in a permanent relationship.
2 Take good quality omega oil (cod liver, flax seed, etc) capsules every day — there’s evidence it improves your brain power, reduces rates of heart and stroke, and possibly helps prevent Alzheimer’s.
3 Yes, it’s boring, but don’t smoke. It’s the single most avoidable cause of illness and death so it’s pretty pointless worrying about your health if you’re still puffing away.
4 Get to understand food labels — the more you know about what goes into food and what it does to you, the more manufacturers will have to ensure that it is healthy.
5 Exercise regularly, but don’t go mad — remember that as you get older the cartilage in your joints becomes more brittle. The last thing you want is to be laid up for months on end.
6 Believe in something — there is increasing evidence that those who attend church tend to have lower blood pressure and live longer.
7 Be aware of your body — what’s normal and what’s not. Doctors believe that people benefit more from being aware of sudden changes, or anything that is not normal, than having regular health screens. Go to the doctor if something does seem unusual.
8 Do what your doctor says. Up to half of those who are prescribed medicines don’t take them properly. Research indicates thousands remain ill or die as a result.
9 Look after your teeth. Not only does toothache destroy your quality of life but recent studies have shown that those who neglect their dental health tend to die earlier.
10 Remember moderation in all things. If you’re eating three cream cakes every day you know that there’s going to be payback. The same applies to taking handfuls of supplements.
DR THOMAS STUTTAFORD AND SUZI GODSON: Sizzling sex
11 Always find something kindly and enthusiastic to say about your partner’s sexual performance. Never start any aspect of your mutual sex life with a negative remark.
12 Never, ever make a joke or humorous reference about your partner’s genitalia, secondary sexual characteristics or performance, however kindly intended or amusing. Any joke counts as rejection.
13 Don’t initially volunteer information about your fantasies. Better to talk about a third party’s fantasies, such as those found in Nancy Friday’s book My Secret Garden, and take the discussion from there.
14 Tell your partner what you enjoy. Some partners don’t like to be thanked — sex is not a social service — but let your partner know when it has been a success.
15 Vary the routine. Keep boredom at bay and thereby prolong the delightful stage of love known as lust.
16 Condoms, femidoms, spermicides, subliminal anxiety? Cut to the chase and go for a sexual health check-up together. It’s the single most liberating sex act on the planet.
17 Telepathy is no one’s strong point so ignore your inner people-pleaser and tell your partner if something is, or isn’t, working for you. There are no prizes for sexual reticence so say what you want and don’t fake your feelings.
18 Reciprocate. Remember that going south is a two-way ticket, as is, getting on top, finding the KY in the bathroom cupboard and sleeping in the wet patch.
19 Plan ahead. Make lists of techniques you want to try, or toys you want to buy and allocate a date in the future to each one. Heighten the anticipation by sending each other coded reminders beforehand.
20 Have an affair — with each other. Don’t let work, kids and domesticity get in the way of your sex life. Meet in a hotel room once a month. Drink champagne, have a bath together, and pack four weeks’ worth of sex into one night.
THE MIND GYM: Keep your brain fit
21 Open your eyes. From scenery to people, temperatures to sounds, take it all in. Remember your surroundings and test yourself later to see how good you were.
22 Focus. Give whoever you are with or whatever you are doing your full attention.
23 Listen and ask questions. Use all the information you hear to draw a conclusion.
24 Surround yourself. Build a network of people around you that ask questions or even challenge you and help you discover new things.
25 Look on the bright side. Research shows that optimists live longer. If the glass is usually half-empty then work on viewing it as half-full.
26 Experiment. Try different things out and be open to as many new experiences as you can, from painting to paragliding, sailing to singing.
27 Take time to reflect. After a big meeting at work or a row with a loved one. What have you learnt? What could you have done differently?
28 Set yourself goals. Make sure you stretch yourself at least once a week, whether by learning a poem or completing a crossword.
29 Break your routine. Avoid getting stuck doing the same old things.
30 Challenge your assumptions. When you have a view or an idea think of what its exact opposite would be and see where it takes you.
ANNA SHEPARD: Going green
31 Clean the fridge to make the motor run for shorter periods, saving energy and cash.
32 Cool off by turning your thermostat down by one degree — you won’t notice the difference in temperature but you will save 10 per cent on your heating bills as well as reducing CO2 emissions.
33 Buy furniture made from “good wood”. Good wood must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to guarantee sustainability. About 50 per cent of John Lewis’ garden furniture this year carries the FSC logo.
34 Fill up the washing machine before you run a cycle to save energy and water.
35 Save energy by filling out a home energy questionnaire (www.est.org.uk/myhome/whatcan/hec/; 0800 512012), which will recommend cost-saving, energy-efficient measures.
36 Ecover cleaning products can be refilled at select stores — call 0845 1302230 for your nearest. This avoids using energy to recycle containers.
37 Plant power can be harnessed with a house plant. Spider plants, palms, peace lilies and chrysanthemums come out on top for absorbing indoor pollution.
38 A water-saving hippo can save three litres (five pints) of water every time you flush (http://www.hippo-the-watersaver.co.uk/)
39 Ditch the junk mail by contacting Mailing Preference Service (http://www.mpsonline.org.uk/; 020-7291 3310).
40 Install a meter, which will reduce water usage by an average of 20 per cent and reduces costs by £41 a year (according to Ofwat).
DR COPPERFIELD: At the doctor’s, don’t...
41 Take up one of the day’s “emergency” slots with a problem your mother could kiss better.
42 Show up 15 minutes late for a 10-minute appointment and feign horror and surprise when you’re told you won’t be seen.
43 Use medical terms you don’t understand; “chronic” does not mean “severe” — and not all headaches are migraines.
44 Ask for a second opinion before you’ve heard the first one.
45 Describe the tablets you take as, “They’re sort of off-whitey blue and egg-shaped”, rather than remembering their names.
46 Ask whether it’s safe to take Chinese herbal remedies with your prescription drugs. (Ask Dr Wu, he might know and we don’t really care.)
47 Insist that you can tell when your blood pressure is high because you feel “giddy”.
48 Tell your GP that he looks awful and ought to see a doctor when he’s crawled in to work with the ’flu.
49 Forget to mention that you’re allergic to penicillin until your GP has finished writing the prescription.
50 Ask your GP to tell lies on insurance claim forms or to backdate doctor’s certificates (for all he knows you could have been on a Caribbean cruise last week).
IRMA KURTZ: Rules of engagement
51 Be polite. Intimacy does not justify discourtesy; “please” and “thank you” and “sorry” are words of love, too.
52 Keep something of your own, a passion or pastime. To rely on another for all your joy is to assign an inhuman burden.
53 Never say “you should” to your partner when what you mean is “I want you to ...”
54 When in love remember to be unromantic: about contraception, for instance, and in due course about finances and possibly offspring.
55 Hold hands in public sometimes; this is a continental habit that is not without charm and significance.
56 For every minute you talk, spend two listening, not just hearing: taking in what the other is saying and what it means.
57 Forgiveness is as important as fidelity but fidelity is essential to monogamy and forgiveness an occasional requirement, best kept in reserve.
58 You cannot change your partner’s behaviour until you change your own reaction to it.
59 To accept another with love is to accept all the baggage that person carries, make room for it and help to unpack.
60 Smell good. Eat garlic only when your partner does too.
BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION: Burn off those calories by...
Figures are for 30 mins exercise for someone weighing 68kg
61 Running at 16kmh/ 10mph — 525 calories.
62 Playing football — 292 calories.
63 Swimming (at 50 yds a min) — 315 calories.
64 Weight-training (including short recoveries) — 382 calories.
65 Handball — 345 calories.
66 Basketball — 330 calories.
67 Skipping — 428 calories.
68 Squash — 308 calories.
69 Cycling (1.6km/1 mile in 4.6 mins) — 300 cals.
70 Cross-country skiing — 495 calories.Note: Depending on an individual’s fitness levels, this intensity may not be able to be sustained for the full 30 minutes.
DR JANE COLLINS: Kids’ wellbeing
71 Aim for a healthy diet for the whole family, but always leave room for treats. A healthy diet for children is not exactly the same as for adults because of the needs for growth.
72 Five portions of fruit or vegetables a day applies to everyone once a child is eating three meals a day.
73 Children of all ages need lots of excercise. Exercising with their parents and seeing their parents exercise is likely to encourage them, even during the teenage years.
74 Immunisations protect children from serious illnesses. Preventing illness makes sense.
75 Babies and children are screened for serious illnesses and/or problems at various stages in their development. Having these done is important for health.
76 If your child does become ill, go with your instincts and be confident in your own judgment — you know your child.
77 Do ask doctors and nurses about the different options available if your child is ill.
78 Temporary behavioural problems are common. Most can be dealt with by talking with your partner about what is acceptable from your children, and then taking a consistent line.
79 Don’t pressure your children with your own unrealistic expectations.
80 Access to a first-aid kit and Calpol, or its equivalent, will help you deal with the unexpected.
DARIAN LEADER: Conquer those neuroses
81 If you are phobic, try to choose a rare or extinct animal to be terrified of. And remember that fear of something known is always better than anxiety of the unknown.
82 If you are obsessive, and certain you’ve left the iron on when you leave for work, follow a simple rule: take the iron to work with you.
83 If you are a control freak and hate letting go, dance just once at a party so you can cite it later in your defence.
84 If you have disturbing dreams featuring someone you know, think twice before telling them. It’s not silence that’s golden but tact.
85 If you get angry at the most trivial slight, stop to think. Could you be searching for injustices to add to your list?
86 If you make slips of the tongue, don’t try to hide them. They often bring out what you really want to say.
87 If you feel encumbered by your neurotic symptoms, don’t hide them. Try to live them as comic rather than tragic.
88 If your neurosis is getting too much, seek help. Find a shrink. But which one?
89 To find a good therapist, first try using word of mouth — if a friend has been helped, find out by whom. Failing that, go through your GP.
90 The unconscious needs a bit of friction to emerge, so keep in mind that you are not looking for a new best friend in a therapist, and choose another if it doesn’t work for you.
JOHN NAISH: And finally, health hazards
91 Cellphone elbow — victims fear they are having a stroke, however, John Fernandez, of Rush University, says that holding mobiles too long pinches the ulnar nerve in the elbow, which can severely weaken hands.
92 Christian cancer — devout churchgoers may contract cancer from inhaling church incense, caution Maastricht University researchers, as it can contain high levels of carcinogens.
93 Memoir madness — keeping a diary raises your risk of headaches and anxiety, says a Glasgow Caledonian University study. Reflective writing causes distress, it seems, which gets even worse if you keep rereading your accounts of your daily traumas and adventures.
94 Winners’ woe — hold the celebrations, the fans of winning teams are much more likely to be assaulted 24 hours after matches than losers, say casualty researchers in Cardiff.
95 Shaky Pins syndrome — can you never remember your cash-card number? It’s not forgetfulness, it’s security-protection code overload syndrome, argue Melbourne University neuropsychologists.
96 Playtex peril — men who remove lovers’ bras can rip their fingers off, reports the British Journal of Plastic Surgery. Apparently, 40 per cent of men have a dangerous grasp of clasps.
97 Corpse confusion — Cotard syndrome makes people believe that they are dead, melting or turned to stone. One recent sufferer repeatedly attempted suicide to prove he was dead.
98 Terminal airport disease — living near an airport doubles your suicide risk and boosts by 60 per cent your chance of accidental death, according to a ten-year study of Los Angelinos.
99 Nostril no-no — beware washing in tropical streams on adventure holidays. The Hong Kong Medical Journal says that leeches can crawl up nostrils, causing persistent nosebleeds.
100 News blues — TV bulletins can make you clinically depressed. Just 15 minutes can plunge morale to the point of confusion and anxiety, claims Nottingham Trent University.