While the study conducted in order to pinpoint the exact factors contributing to this population's longevity did not uncover definitive answers, there are a number of lifestyle factors that seem to be contributing to this populations long, and seemingly healthy lives. In particular, the residents of Ikaria report often waking when they please and taking regular naps. Additionally, the average Ikarian diet consists of home-grown and untreated fruits, vegetables and an occasional meat, usually for a celebratory occasion. Furthermore, given the islands hilly topography, along with the daily farm work, the average citizens gets a fair amount of lifestyle exercise, all under the pure sea air and natural sun.
The lifestyle factors mentioned above may not be shocking, as most of us know that sufficient rest, a healthy diet, and ample exercise contribute to better health. What is intriguing and perhaps surprising, is the nature and quality of the island's social structure. The Ikarian society appears to be quite collective and collaborative, where citizens seems to take responsibility for their work, their family and their friends. Furthermore, life does not appear to decline as people age, but continues with the same social vigor or youth, with frequent social events and vivacious celebrations. It is not uncommon, for instance, for neighbors to just drop in unannounced and sit for hours simply enjoying each other's company, and perhaps a cup of tea with honey. There appears to be less opportunity for loneliness and perhaps melancholia in Ikaria, as these folks appear to physically, emotionally and spiritually support each other in ways that our individualized society often does not.
Furthermore, the concept of time on this island appears to be interpreted quite differently from the hurried nature of the steadfast American deadlines. People may wake up whenever they please in Ikaria, but they often work into the night, make their own, varied schedules, only to come home and socialize with friends and family. Their days are filled with various work activities, time spent outside and with friends, and lives do not seem to follow a monotonous, predictable schedule, even well into the nineties.
There are numerous lessons we can learn from our Ikarian counterparts. Particularly, the importance of on-going self-care for the whole person, not just parts of ourselves that we think are "productive" and/or on the exterior. Making the time to care for our physical, social, spiritual and mental states, may not seem productive in the moment, but may add health, joy and years to our lives.