In my column for The Community Edition this month, I was looking to find the “secrets” to living a long and healthy life. I interviewed a physician (my husband), a 99-year old grandmother, and a friend and naturopath, Dr. Melissa Willms because they seemed like the most credible sources around. Now, because of my limited word count, I had to strip back the advice to a handful of sentences, but, as you’ll see what Melissa has to say was too important to simply skim over. Luckily, I control what gets published here ☺ so I get to share her full story.

The question posed was, “Melissa, what are the 3 most important things a person can do to live not only a long, healthy life, but be happy in the process.” Here are the doctor’s orders:

  1. Don’t Try To Go It Alone
  2. The first key to long term health – and even more specifically, optimized long term health – is to compile your very own health and lifestyle team. This collection of experts may vary depending on your goals, your available resources, or even your location, but each member is chosen to assist you in optimizing an aspect of your overall wellness. My own health team includes a naturopathic doctor, GP, chiropractor, massage therapist, osteopath, counsellor and yoga instructor.

    This team advises me on my daily lifestyle practices, nutrition, mental/emotional health and proactively run tests to screen for disease or health risk factors. Together, we are constantly tweaking my plan to optimize my health. As a naturopathic doctor myself, I believe in surrounding myself with experts in a variety of health fields. It really does take a village! My philosophy has always been an integrative and best-of-both-worlds approach and I’d encourage everyone to do the same.

  3. Keep Your Chin Up
  4. Attitude is everything. I know that sounds cliché, but research is now proving that having a positive outlook on life, regardless of what comes your way, can actually improve your health outcomes and lengthen your life!

    Now, building and maintaining a positive attitude is like building a muscle. And exercising this muscle can be done in many different ways. Depending on who you are, important practices could include spiritual beliefs, mindfulness, meditation, travel, or straight up seizing the day and living each moment to the fullest. Carpe Diem!

  5. Invest In Meaningful Relationships
  6. What’s life without people and relationships to live for? Life is exponentially better when shared with those you love (or at least enjoy being around!). One of the observations made by “Blue Zones” researchers is that people who surround themselves with a community or village live longer and healthier lives.

“Health” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people – and honestly, being and staying healthy can be achieved in a lot of ways too. In my practice, I’m looking to help people optimize their health. To feel good, and look good, and be happy in their day to day lives. There are no “secrets” to living long and living well but I do believe that with these three steps, happiness is within reach.

Dr. Melissa Willms resides in Kitchener Ontario and practices at Sanas Health Practice.