Health Goals

I may be a little late on this topic, but I’ve been waiting for some space in my life to think about New Year resolutions, and the time has finally arrived.

Many of us focus on health when it comes to setting goals, and thinking in terms of habit building can be particularly helpful when it comes to resolutions.

Here are six ideas for natural health goals you might want to consider for 2019.

Move more (but be easy with yourself)

Exercise is a common New Year goal, and while it may work for some people to set specific goals to run a marathon or work out five days a week, I would like to encourage you to simply move more. Walk around town more, or park farther away in a big parking lot. Find moments when you can move your feet. Perhaps every time you get the urge to check your smartphone for messages or social media updates you could do some jumping jacks. Find what you love and do more of it. For me, that is dancing, and if you have kids, take every opportunity to have a five-minute dance party with them. A little bit of movement goes a long way. It doesn’t have to be an extreme goal, and when we set goals that are hard to reach, we often feel like failures and give up completely. Just move a little more, and know that every bit counts.

Get more sleep

This is a no-brainer. Most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and at least a third of us are not getting enough. This affects your mood (and can limit symptoms of depression), hormones, weight, energy, and even life expectancy. The next time you get a really full night of sleep, think about how you feel when you wake up and remember that feeling when you are tempted to stay up too late watching a movie or going out.

Try a new herbal remedy

If herbs are new for you, try a new herbal remedy or plant medicine sometime this year. Maybe you buy some echinacea this winter to support your immune function, or start drinking chamomile tea every night if you have trouble sleeping. Other easy entry points would be taking elderberry syrup when you get sick, drinking ginger or peppermint tea for stomach aches, or try CBD oil for anxiety, headaches, or chronic pain. For those already using herbal medicine regularly, pick a plant ally to get to know better this year. Grow that herb in your garden, observe it through the season, sit with it each day, and use its medicine when you need it.

Get rid of chemicals and plastics in your environment

For me, it is important to limit my family’s environmental exposure to synthetic chemicals and plastics. Plastics, for example, have endocrine-disrupting qualities, meaning that your hormones can be thrown out of whack. Try to avoid eating or drinking out of plastic containers and do not heat food in plastic or put hot or acidic food in plastic. In our body care products like shampoo and lotions, research has found that ingredients like parabens and formaldehyde are linked to cancer and allergies. Why choose products with known or probable carcinogens when there are alternatives out there? If cost is an issue, just consider buying fewer products, but focusing on higher-quality ones. Can you afford an extra fifty cents for natural hand soap to decrease your risk of cancer? I think most of us can.

Try alternative therapies

I’m completely biased as a massage and myofascial release therapist, but I truly believe that bodywork and complementary therapies like acupuncture and chiropractic can heal most physical (and emotional) ailments. Even if it is only quarterly, see if you can fit in a treatment session of some sort of bodywork. As with other services, I always recommend asking about sliding scales, reduced rates for seniors, or the possibility of bartering goods or services. I have traded honey, crocheted hats, homemade soap, graphic design work, and many other things with clients so that they could afford to get treated when they needed it. Not all practitioners will do this, and if that is the case, look at other places where your money goes and ask yourself if you can afford self-care instead of cable TV, a night out to dinner, new clothes, or anything else that isn’t a basic need.

Rest when you need it

One of the biggest problems I see with my clients is their inability to rest when they are tired, injured, or simply need to reset something in their lives. We are so busy doing that we forget how to just “be.” Likewise, many people I speak with feel downright guilty if they sit around resting, even if they have chronic pain or an acute injury. Give yourself permission to rest for even a few minutes. Sit and eat your lunch slowly, or spend the first five minutes of every day sitting still before your body starts propelling you to check tasks off your to-do list. If you hear guilt creeping in during your rest time, replace it with a more positive, healthy affirmation so that you can eventually override those messages from your subconscious, like, “I give myself permission to rest” or “I deserve self-care.”

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