The new year began with a bang. As I write, our country is faced with the highest daily infection and mortality rates of the COVID pandemic and the greatest challenge to our democracy in more than two centuries. The trials and tribulations of 2020 clearly weren’t left at the threshold of 2021. A year from now, the world will look different to us, and most likely, it will look better. Begin afresh each day, focus on the present moment and look for ways to help. Resiliency is our birthright. It can be cultivated and even shared. Despite the chaos around us, we are largely in control of our health, our home and our hearts. That is where resiliency starts.
Some simple reminders: Change is challenging, especially when faced alone. So, buddy up. Find support with friends or family and take on new ventures in partnership to help one another and hold each other accountable. Make smaller, reasonable and meaningful changes in succession instead of taking a big leap all at once. Incremental changes – one after another – add up. Be honest and kind with yourself. Strive for change, not perfection. Lastly, discern what’s in your realm of influence and drop what’s not.
Adopting Healthy Habits
We may have committed ourselves to ambitious changes in our diet or lifestyle, and perhaps we are keeping pace with our plans. Sometimes, though, our ambition outruns our ability and collapses under the weight of high expectations and perceived failure. The most meaningful changes are often combinations of subtle shifts that, over time, add up to big ones. Committing any positive change, no matter how small, to our regular routine can lead to monumental success.
Drink a quart of water in the morning before any caffeine consumption: 16 oz. when you first wake up then another 16 oz. while you are getting dressed and making your bed. Add apple cider vinegar or a half a lemon or grapefruit to alkalinize the body, improve digestion and increase hydration. Beginning the day hydrated will generally encourage better hydration the remainder of the day. Proper hydration improves energy, mental clarity, sleep, healthy weight maintenance, detoxification and inflammation.
Stretch for 20 minutes a day. Listen to some music and to your body. Move accordingly.
Intermittently fast. Delay eating in the morning until after you’ve done a little exercise. This increases our metabolism, sharpens our mind and improves brain, cardiovascular and immune function.
Stick with a waking and bedtime schedule. Establishing consistency in sleep, exercise and eating habits optimizes metabolism and our ability to handle stress.
Try one new healthy food or recipe each week and add it to your rotation of regular foods. Document it. By the end of the year, that’s a lot of new healthy food.
Detox once a week by consuming only vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy fats and hydrating with herbal teas or bone broth.
Making Your Home Your Haven
Our home should be our sanctuary and refuge.
Make your bed and make the effort to make it a beautiful and sensual delight.
Designate an area of your house as sacred space for creativity, contemplation and joy. Let no worry or unpleasurable work come into that space. Make it beautiful and keep it clean.
Purge. One drawer, shelf, closet and room at a time. Set goals for one room in the house each month.
Fill your home with scents and sounds that help you feel happy and relaxed.
Bring the outdoors inside. Plants and flowers nourish our indoor spaces with oxygen and grace.
Guarding Your Heart
We don’t have to participate in the mayhem of a world gone crazy. Guard your heart and mind as if your life and your sanity depend on it. Any of the following can change your outlook and resiliency.
Add in a 10-minute guided meditation before getting into the business of the day and before going to bed. There are apps out there, like CALM, that help with this.
Don’t check your email or engage with a screen for the first hour and the last two to three hours of your day. Make the first and last things you do meaningful and peaceful.
Limit your news consumption to the same amount of time each day and balance its intake with human connection or life-affirming activity. If you listen to or watch an hour of news, spend at least an hour talking with a trusted friend, reading an inspiring book or taking a walk in the woods.
Make something every day: a good meal, a homemade card, an arrangement of flowers, music, a journal entry, a sketch of a tree, etc.
Keep a gratitude journal detailing three specific moments of the day for which you felt uplifting gratitude. Describe one positive experience in greater detail that changed your day for the better. This daily habit will become a treasure trove of positivity.
Every day, give to others in a way that is intentional and invisible. Nothing feels better.
May we all remember that this too shall pass. The good and the bad. The painful and sublime. Living mindfully means we can experience both challenge and good fortune as equal opportunities for growth and transformation. May 2021 be the best year of your life and may you commit yourself to making it so. FBN
By Kären van der Veer, NMD
Dr. Kären van der Veer has more than 20 years of experience as a physician, acupuncturist and educator. Her career has been defined by her passion for and devotion to serving others. She currently teaches at Northern Arizona University and sees patients at Aspen Integrative Medical Center, located at 323 N Leroux, Suite B, in Flagstaff. For more information, call 928-213-5828.