For some time I’ve wanted to write my own “What to do to keep yourself healthy” list. I give out all these tidbits of advice to my patients – so why not share them with you?

I am not talking about about the obvious things, to wit, everybody knows you shouldn’t smoke. Also you should wear a seatbelt, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and exercise on a regular basis.  What I am shelling out are my own little rules of virtue.

So, here are a few things you should do :

#1 – Get up at same hour

Really. Having a regular wake up time regardless of how well you slept or what day it is is a cornerstone to physical and mental health. I was reminded of this at a recent lecture on migraines. The number one way to keep away migraines is to wake up every day at the same time. Getting up at the same time each day doesn’t promote late-night revelry, and it disallows “sleeping in” on weekends. No fun in this. Nevertheless to do so contributes to so much mental and physical well-being I put it at the top of the list.

#2 – Go wash your face

Applying a hot moist towel to the face is a brilliant way to calm down agitation and anxiety. It is known to stop panic attacks. I would make it a nightly ritual to wash the face at the end of the day for both psychological and physical cleansing. It also helps promote sleep.

#3 – Have happy friends

Much better than reading a self-help book is associating with positive people. Their positive outlook keeps you “looking at the bright side”. Either consciously or unconsciously you will strive to be the same. And after all, we become what we first start pretending to be.

#4 – Call your energy back into the present

Much of neurosis happens because people brood about the past and/or worry about the future. It is no surprise most religions and philosophies  emphasize “living in the present.” I tell my patients  to be constantly check themselves on this. When they realize they are “living in the past” or in the future, they are to stop, acknowledge they are doing it, take a few breaths,  and literally call their energies back from the past and future and into the present. Sometimes you have to do this several times a day.

#5 – Touch

We evolved from primates. All primates constantly touch and groom each other. Their offspring are not let go for some time. The healing power of touch remains vital despite all the ‘don’t touch/ staying your personal zone’ rules and fears we have nowadays.  When I was in training, wise teachers told me we should always make physical contact with the patient,  even if it is to feign listening to their lungs and heart. Alas, as a psychiatrist, I am not allowed this most calming and healing force. I instruct my patients to ‘get touched’. I “prescribe” them to get a massage or go see a chiropractor or get some acupuncture.  My real motive is for them to be touched in a  nonsexual safe way.

So there you have it.

“Runners up” include green tea, daily walks, and something I will leave blank lest my mother is reading this.