Benefits of Living a Mediterranean Lifestyle
The global economic crisis, massive young worker unemployment rates, instability in the Eurozone, soaring fuel costs, huge national debt, and other social woes… ugh! And that’s just on the European side of the Mediterranean Sea. To the east and south there is political unrest, drought, financial difficulties and more. Why would anyone ever venture over to this part of the world, especially for a holiday?
Because, despite all its modern issues, quibbles, and problems, the Mediterranean is still one of the healthiest, happiest, cleanest, and nicest places to live on Earth, thanks to thousands of years of culture and history being handed down from generation to generation regarding diet and a balanced lifestyle, not to mention exceptional climate and natural beauty.
After all, if the Mediterranean wasn’t worth protecting, far fewer wars would have been fought to protect its way of life, and far more people would have migrated from the area during various tough times.
So what is it that makes life in the Mediterranean so great?
Lots of places have amazing food and everybody loves the food they grew up with, even if it includes raw seal meat in the arctic or roasted scorpions in Asia. But the Mediterranean has such a broad variety of fresh and healthy food available that it is hard not to like most of it, no matter where you are from. Plus, despite its warm and arid climate, nearly anything will grow here so there is always something in season and fantastic fresh seafood from this inland sea is available all year long.
Furthermore, no matter the culture and country you are in that borders “The Med,” food is respected. In the not so distant past, and even today for some Mediterranean countries, poverty was a fact of life, so most people appreciate what is on their plate. This means that homage is paid to the ingredients that go into each dish and the land that produces it, whether it is dried goods, olive oil, cheese, stews, pastas, soups, salads, tapas, juices, wines, or anything else.
People around the Mediterranean love food, and they understand that eating well makes people happy. Alcoholism, obesity and heart disease rates are among the lowest in the world, even though wine, oil, fat, bread and meat are common. Indeed, many people in other countries are now adopting the “Med-style” diet to try to naturally lower cholesterol and reduce or control diabetes. The key is fresh ingredients, lots of fruits and veggies, and portion control. And the fact that fast food chains are not very popular or common helps too.
Of course food is part of the lifestyle, but what else defines everyday life in the Mediterranean region? Despite economic struggles and general diplomatic skirmishes, people in the Mediterranean have a reputation for enjoying life and not taking things too seriously. This means less self-inflicted stress, something that can contribute to illness. For sure there are issues that can get folks worked up, like football for instance, but in general the attitude is that worrying doesn’t fix many things, so it’s best not to do it. This doesn’t imply that people are lazy (in fact they are typically quite hard working, as one would have to be if raising a large family, which is common in the area), but work is kept in its place – at the office.
If keeping stress at bay seems like a difficult mental adjustment, learning to take a two hour lunch break and a quick nap should be less so. In the warmer months, that nap may even be followed up by a swim in the sea to get the blood flowing before heading back to work for a couple more hours. Few things are rushed in this part of the world, and in passing the region’s ancient architecture everyday, you are constantly reminded that making time to relax is a system that worked in the past: so don’t go changing it now.
Massive numbers of annual tourists and poor human custodianship have taken a toll on the Mediterranean Sea; resulting in pollution, overfishing, and ecological damage that has affected aquatic life. More action is needed to stop these problems, but still, the Mediterranean remains one of the most pristine though heavily-populated areas in the world. It’s one reason the region got so popular with tourists in the first place.
Filling your lungs with clean salty air, enjoying the cool breezes and letting the sun shine on your face are some of life’s simplest pleasures. It is very difficult to be depressed here, with so much warmth and brightness around. Naturally, like so many places, better environmental protection must be put into practice, but the climate and environment of the Mediterranean are still hard to beat.
One of the benefits of high fuel and transportation costs is that more short trips are made on foot or by bicycle. And with such nice weather most of the year, there is no good reason not to get outside at every opportunity, even if just to get from point A to point B. Walking and biking also keep people healthier, provide daily exercise, promote better sleep and reduce air pollution to keep the sky a perfect blue.
Undeniably, this article is the romantic gushings of a non-Mediterranean dweller who just happens to have spent a bit of time in the area. Without a question the Mediterranean region also has its difficulties and inconveniences, but there is much to be said for a slow pace of life, clean air, safe food, and time to think. So take a few tips from the millenniums of life experience that surround the Mediterranean and put them to use in your daily routine to find a healthy balance in everything you do. And if you still need more proof of the benefits to living like they do in the Mediterranean, why not go and see it for yourself?
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