BY TRACY McCUBBIN MD ABOIM, ABEM
As this crazy year comes to an end and we prepare for a fresh start, I would like to take some time to reflect on the lessons learned and think about the tweaks we all can strive to make going forward. For the new year, I propose focusing on 10 behaviors that encourage wellness in all aspects of life. Instead of Resolutions let’s consider them Evolutions on our journey to optimum health. Since resolutions are generally made to be broken, let’s evolve and embrace the spirit of slow, steady, and long-lasting growth.
Here are 10 healthy habits I hope you will incorporate as you embark on a path to health and happiness – which is our greatest wish for you. By working on these over time, you will be able to create the best kind of changes – ones that really stick and that enhance our lives and the lives of those around us!
1. More Fruit and Vegetables, Less Sugar, Gluten and Dairy – This is easier than you may think. Start with simple substitutions and build on them. Next time you crave sugar, try a banana with almond butter and a couple mini chocolate chips instead of a candy bar. This will sustain you longer and prevent the sugar crashes that follow desserts. To reduce your dairy intake, try an alternative milk in your coffee, granola or smoothie. There are so many out there these days – nut milks, coconut, and even banana…give one a try!
2. More Meditation, Less Worry – Everyone is a bit anxious about our world right now. This is to be expected. However, chronic stress leads to chronic disease. Medical literature promotes meditation as a way to prolong the length of telomeres, reduce stress and prevent aging. As little as 5-10 minutes per day has been shown to be effective. Quieting the monkey mind is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body. We like apps like Headspace and Calm!
3. More Quiet, Less Noise – It is easy to get caught up in all the noise; television, 24/7 news, phone notifications, the radio, the kids zoom classrooms, etc., causing us to walk through life on autopilot. Bringing intention into your day can help things feel less noisy. Mute the tv and your phone, turn off your podcast and choose to create an intentional space around you that amplifies peace and allows you to be present and live in the moment. If that much quiet is difficult at first, start with background music then move to relaxing sounds.
4. More Flexibility, Less Rigidity – If we have learned anything from 2020 it is that life is unpredictable, the simple joys are worth our time and being flexible will allow you to go through the ups and downs of life with less stress and disappointment. Bring that flexibility into this new year and allow yourself to look at what is happening in the present moment rather than ruminating on something that did not go as planned. Build your resiliency muscle!
5. More Fun, Less Serious – Try to incorporate play into your life. Try hula hooping, ice skating, dancing around your room, coloring, singing to your favorite songs. It is easy to lose sight of these things in the busy world of being an adult but our inner child needs attention too. “We don’t quit playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!” George Bernard Shaw
6. More Generosity, Less Greed – When times are tough, it is common to go into survival mode and think only of ourselves. However, as soon as you look around you and realize many are in worse situations, it can open your eyes to ways that you can help. You can start simple by making an extra batch of soup and bringing it to your elderly neighbor or someone in need. There are many volunteer opportunities out there right now. Studies show that people who volunteer are happier and healthier!
7. More Letting Go, Less Holding On – Holding onto grudges, mistakes, old clothes, knick knacks around the house…whatever your thing is, it is time to let go! Holding onto those feelings or objects that do not serve you and your highest self are only holding you back from your true happiness and potential.
8. More Detox, Less Toxic Exposure – Detoxification is so important right now. This pandemic is weighing on all of us. Stress produces internal toxins which our body eliminates through poop, pee and sweat! Drink 64 oz of water daily. Sweating is a great way to eliminate toxins. Infrared sauna therapy heats the body directly rather than simply warming the air. Infrared saunas raise the core body temperature and produce a deep, detoxifying sweat at a cellular level, where most toxins reside. Radiance Functional Medicine has purchased an infrared sauna so give us a call at 303-333-1668 to book your first sweat session!
9. More Health Care, Less Disease Care – Prevention is the best medicine! A wonderful acupuncturist told me years ago “I am insulted if my patient comes in sick, it is my job to keep them well.” Seek out a functional and integrative medicine practitioner when you are well and feel good not just when you are sick. A healthy lifestyle goes a long way to prevent chronic disease.
10. More Exercising – Less Sitting at the Computer – Every day, my neighbor trades zoom calls for conference calls, puts on his headphones and walks around his yard kicking a ball. If you can’t be outside that often, set an alarm for every 30 minutes. Stand up from your desk and do 1 minute of high impact exercises. Short bursts of exercises are great for your heart and your mind.
We hope that you can start to incorporate some of these 10 healthy habits into your life and progress on your evolution to optimum health. Radiance Functional Medicine wishes you a wonderful, healthy and peaceful New Year!