Time to pause
With Christmas done and dusted, our next focus is New Year. Opening our 2017 diary with its blank pages, whilst perhaps feeling the effects of too much festive food, it’s tempting to commit to a list of “worthy” New Year resolutions. Health-related ones, such as losing weight and detoxing, head up many people’s lists. Before you dive head first, however, into for example a radical detox, pause and look outside your window. Observe Nature’s stillness. There is very little activity above ground. Animals and plants are effectively hibernating, waiting for spring’s energy to provide that extra push which vitalises all around. Until then, Nature puts up her “Do not disturb” sign and notches up some much needed zzzzzzzzs. We too are part of Nature, and to enjoy the best health possible, it is advisable to take our cues from her. Sadly, being the crazy creatures that we are, we carry on our 24/7 calendar, dictated by commerce and social pressures, rather than responding to seasonal changes.
New Year finds us going on the diet to end all diets, or taking up running for an hour each morning before work, and such like!! Sadly, so many well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions evaporate into thin air by week 2. Why? Starting a new project, which demands lots of energy, stamina and focus, flies in the face of our cells’ natural inclination to hit the snooze button at this time of year. It’s like pushing a huge boulder up a steep hill. After huffing and puffing for a short while, we feel overwhelmed, give up disheartened, and then console ourselves with a coffee and cake, finally beating ourselves up for failing so soon!!!
Stress free resolutions
I’m not suggesting that we climb into our pyjamas and sleep the winter away. There is a half-way house which allows us to tap into the surrounding calmer energy of Nature, whilst also making small preparatory steps to help launch our bigger projects come springtime. We can simply choose smaller resolutions, which go a long way in promoting greater physical and emotional health but without adding to our stress.
Here are a few suggestions for gently changing to a healthier lifestyle …………….
1. Allow yourself to JUST BE. Enjoy the cosiness and stillness that winter allows us. Be gentle with yourself.
2. Introduce a chunk of ME-TIME into each day / week. That is time solely for you – to potter and relax, enjoy some down time, or perhaps take up a creative hobby.
3. Find a form of RELAXATION which suits you (e.g. meditation, listening to music).
4. Find a form of gentle EXERCISE such as walking, Tai Chi, Qigong to move your body without putting too much stress on it.
5. Allow yourself to DAYDREAM. Winter is conducive to reflecting on the year that has just past and forming ideas of what you wish the new year to look like. I jot down ideas in a notebook throughout December to February and end up with a list, not so much of resolutions, as aspirations for the year ahead.
6. Drink WATER. If you are a coffee-head and dislike water, over the winter months, gradually add in an extra glass of water each week until you get to 2 litres a day. Dehydration plays a big part in most health conditions, and a gradual increase in our water-drinking is a great way to enhance our wellbeing gently.
7. Lighten the load. Over Christmas, many of us are guilty of over-indulging. Once the umpteenth helping of turkey and/or Christmas cake is over, it’s worth “cleaning up” our diet a little. Just cutting out or gradually cutting down on the sugar-laden puddings, alcohol, and processed foods, can start to make a difference.
8. Introduce more FRUIT and VEG. Experimenting with soup recipes is a great way of adding more vegetables into your diet. A hearty vegetable and lentil soup pleases the taste buds, warms you up and provides lots of tasty nutrients too.
9. Getting plenty of zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs is a good habit to adopt for the whole year, but during winter, the extra hours of darkness suggest that we should be resting more. Burning the candle at both ends cuts short the window during which your body does a lot of its cleansing, thus seriously impacting your immune system.
Remember, if anything adds to your stress, ditch it or find a less stressful approach.
During winter, think small but positive steps, so that come spring you won’t be exhausted from trying too hard over the last few months and instead can tap into the spring energy to really make a difference to your health and wellbeing.
Judith Reid is a naturopathic nutritionist and passionate about all things natural, elephants, travel and dance. Judith’s philosophy in life is very much in taking personal responsibility for one’s own health and believes that living more naturally is common sense. To read more about Judith click here
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