So here we are. The beginning of a new year, and thank goodness! We can say good-bye to things in the old year that were bugging us about ourselves, and move on. Indeed, that’s what the recent (and recurring) emails, posts, podcasts, and even books, are trying to help us with.
When the new year comes along, we are encouraged to look inward, and ask ourselves if there is anything we would like to do differently. This can apply to very many aspects of our lives, like our jobs, careers, family, where we live, and how we look after ourselves. We take a look at our priorities, our goals, and our hopes. Looking at the big picture, all of this relates our personal health and well-being.
A little introspection now and again does not go amiss. The problem comes when it turns to magical thinking. That may sound like this: “I am going to spend more time taking care of my yard this year.” “I am going to wake up an hour earlier so I can empty my email box every day.” “I am going to stop hating cats.”
Add to this list the classic: “I am going to lose weight and exercise more.” Noble! Research shows again and again that people who do that end up feeling happier, more energetic, less depressed, and less stressed. Who wouldn’t want that? But, isn’t that just more magical thinking? Often these words can be kicked around and end up as a cliché. Sometimes it is just a vague notion that doesn’t connect to who we really are.
So, let me cut to the chase before this email ends up in your trash along with the rest of the advice about how to end this year happier, healthier, and more productive.
There are some things you can do to change your up-coming year for the better. (Some of you are already doing these things, but there is still something for you here.) These actions do not require any magical thinking or seismic changes that, odds are, are not going to happen.
Ready? Here’s my Off-the-Wall List of Things to Actually Do in the New Year (and some resources to support you in your efforts).
1. Wear sneakers more often
Sneakers really are acceptable just about anywhere. Story: Having been to physical therapy lately, I was struck by how many patients came in wearing sandals. Ouch! Do you think these folks are ready to exercise physically and mentally? You be the judge.
Wearing sneakers more often tips you toward getting up and moving around in a flash. No need to change shoes. Sneakers are for moving. They put you in the mood. Also, and this is important, it eliminates the mentality of “now I am going to change clothes and go get some exercise.” If you wear sneakers a lot, it means that movement is possible at any given time. That’s a completely different mentality.
2. Join the war against junk food*
Just so you know, your brain hates junk food in the functional sense. Sure, your brain lights up and tells you that junk food is rewarding, even self-enhancing. That is a trick it plays on us. In fact, it is only telling you to eat more of it. For example, how many Cheetos does it take to make you feel full? It feels like you have to eat even more junk food in order to get true satisfaction.
The thing is, true satisfaction comes from real food. That is what your brain and body actually use to function. But then you probably already know this. So this year, resolve (and I use that word with trepidation) to cut out some junk food. How? Pick one or two items. They don’t even have to be your favorites. Seriously. Then, get them off the list of things that you usually or sometimes go for. Just a few. The point here is to start taking stock of items you are consuming that are really not good for you.
*Junk food streamlined definition: Food imitators made with thickeners, stabilizers, emulsifiers, added sugars ending in -ose, and artificial anything.
3. Learn something new about how your body works
Just some basic biology. It can go a long way to help you be discerning when it comes to what you read, products that are being pushed, even what you doctor tells you. You will become savvy. You will know that there is no one drug or one vitamin that is going to be the answer to that elusive health and well-being that we talked about earlier. You will be able to grasp that our bodies are incredibly complex and wonderful and that if we learn about them, we can do right by them more often.
Here are some resource ideas:
Beginner Category (There is no shame here. Even if you just browse through these, you will learn a lot.)
Intermediate Category (For those of you who already have some biology under your belt. These books can add some interesting tidbits to your knowledge.)
The Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World by Pilar Gerasimo
Lives of a Cell by Lewis Thomas (truly a classic.)
The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson (Bill Bryson is known for his witty, sarcastic, and irreverent sense of humor. This is a thorough coverage of all things body, including some history of medicine, but lightly treated.)
As you know, there is way too much of everything on the internet! Stick with the basics when it comes to medical or health information. Use Google and look for items from Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Harvard, NIH, and national health organizations. Youtube is kind of a free-for-all, figuratively and literally. Some good, some awful, often with no way to discern which is which.
There you have it! Keep on truckin’ and Happy, Healthy, New Year!
All the best
© 2024 Kristen Carter. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Rudzhan Nagiev | iStock