It’s 2005. You’ve survived the holidays, including New Year’s Eve; in fact, you’re already back to your old routines. But what about those New Year’s resolutions? If you find yourself resisting the time-honored tradition, perhaps a fresher approach will remind you that change and renewal don’t necessarily require discipline and difficulty. By taking a different approach, achieving your resolutions can be easy and even fun. Read on for 30 tips on easy ways to add health, harmony, beauty, and a few more laughs to your year.
Make 2005 the year you sit up straight. Bad posture can lead to a chronic stoop, low back pain, and even headaches. Check out your posture throughout the day and correct slouching or a crooked neck until sitting tall becomes a habit. For extra help, buy an ergonomic lumbar-support chair insert, or try the Buckwheat Lumbar Roll from Lewis N. Clark.
Add exotic mushrooms to your favorite recipes. Research shows that enoki, maitake, shiitake, and lion’s mane possess healing properties, including anticancer and antiviral activity. Sauté several cups of fresh mushrooms with olive oil, garlic, and parsley and serve over polenta—quick and yummy.
Cleanse your body and soul with an Ayurvedic mud bath and mask. Herbomineral from Auromere contains 13 herbs and minerals and four types of clay and is based on an ancient Ayurvedic formula to detoxify and rejuvenate.
This year, take a relaxing and refreshing vacation—at home. Fill the fridge, turn off the phone, put the computer to sleep, and enjoy a week of reading, meditating, gardening, and long walks.
Next time you fly, feel great when you arrive. Skip the high-sodium, high-fat airplane food; opt for a high-protein nutrition bar and raw almonds for sustained energy, vitamins, and minerals. Bring a spritz bottle and keep your face moisturized in the dry, recycled cabin air. And drink water, lots of it. For long trips, pick up a homeopathic jet-lag formula.
Create a bedtime ritual to ensure a good night’s sleep that enhances immune system health, mood, and cognition and can even help you lose weight. Spray your room with lavender water for instant calm, light a candle for warmth, sip soothing chamomile tea, and clear your mind clutter with a prayer.
Want dinner waiting for you when you get home from work? Pick up 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson (Robert Rose, 2004), and you can have Louisiana Ratatouille or Mushroom and Artichoke Lasagna ready when you walk in the door.
Get on that mat! Studies show that the ancient practice of yoga can reduce blood pressure as much as medication does, lower heart rate, ease arthritis, and even boost immunity.
Think beyond dairy for calcium, which is vital for bone health (as well as low blood pressure, heart health, and a healthy menstrual cycle). Get yours from varied sources, such as broccoli, dried figs, seaweed, white beans, and almonds.
Try on organic clothing. Considering that it takes about 1/3 pound of pesticides to grow enough cotton for one T-shirt, you can make a difference by choosing green garments whenever possible. Made from soft hemp, cotton, or silk fabrics, organic clothes are even stylish now.
Treat yourself to a massage on a regular basis to control stress, prevent injury, and move toxins. If the expense is an issue, ask the therapist for a free session if you purchase four, or contact local massage schools; they usually have students looking for volunteer subjects. Be adventurous: Try watsu (warm-pool bodywork), hot stone, or Reiki massage.
Make an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. You’ve been thinking about it; now get a fresh perspective on health and preventive care. To find a physician where you live, log on to www.naturopathic.org.
Quell emotional overeating with Relora. This proprietary botanical blend has been shown to decrease stress and limit weight gain without negative side effects.
Create a mantra. For calming: I am safe and secure and surrounded with love. For inspiration: I can do anything I want. Make up your own for what you need now; post it on the fridge if you need to.
The next time you feel the sniffles coming on, take andrographis. Studies show that this botanical, often called Indian echinacea, quells the duration and severity of common cold symptoms.
Change your mood simply by lighting a candle. Aromatherapy candles made with pure essential oils, cotton wicks, and quality wax can fill a room with therapeutic scents in minutes. Try Way Out Wax’s Clear Head when you have a cold or Sweet Dreams for stress relief.
As soon as it’s warm enough, get your hands dirty in the garden—nothing is better for the soul. Plant a medicinal garden with valerian, mint, lavender, and calendula. If you don’t have a yard, check out local community gardening plots. (And be sure to use organic seeds, which grow better in organic conditions than conventional seeds.)
Get organized and inspired with a new daily planner. Consider Words of Wisdom: Selected Quotes From His Holiness the Dalai Lama: 2005 Day-to-Day Calendar (Andrews McMeel, 2004) or Simple Abundance: 2005 Engagement Calendar (Universe, 2004).
Start up a supper club. You make and deliver dinner for four families (including your own) once a week, and then you get dinner delivered to your doorstep the following three nights. Make it organic, vegetarian, ethnic—whatever’s healthy.
Buy a beautiful new cookbook for inspiration. Try Organic: A New Way of Eating by Sophie Grigson and William Black (Headline, 2004) to learn more about the benefits of organic farming and cooking. Or experiment with bold new flavors with Aroma: The Magic of Essential Oils in Food & Fragrance by Daniel Patterson and Mandy Aftel (Artisan, 2004).
If you get blue with the changing light and short days, switch to full-spectrum light bulbs for a cheery, bright home. Seventh Generation’s Natural Spectrum lightbulbs are available at many natural products stores.
Commit to one page of journaling a day. Write at the same time every day, and don’t edit yourself. Complain, rejoice, organize—getting it on the page can help you let go or manifest, both subtle but sure ways to tame stress and feed the soul.
Don’t wait for spring to plant herbs. With an indoor container garden, you can have fresh, organic herbs in days, even while it’s snowing outside. For seeds and pots (and kits) to get you started, visit www.herbkits.com.
Meet people, learn, and give by volunteering this year. Log on to www.volunteermatch.org to find opportunities in your area. As you become part of a warmhearted local community, you’ll understand why veteran volunteers swear they get back more than they give.
Start a nonfiction book group. Get your brain working by reading all those heady tomes you’ve avoided. Pass out ginkgo to the group.
This year buy used—and save money and the environment. Find treasures for home at garage sales and flea markets; check out consignment shops for clothes; and for a splurge (or just for fun), shop at an auction.
Paint a room and change a mood. Try red for passion, blue for calm, yellow for cheer, white for purity, and green for rebirth. Avoid toxic fumes by using water-based, low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints.
Give your sex life a boost with The Natural Guide to Great Sex by Ellen Kamhi (Barron’s Educational Series, 2004). Learn about natural aphrodisiacs and other tools to get you in the mood with Natural Sex Boosters by Ray Sahelian (Square One, 2004).
Laugh deep belly laughs. Laughter boosts immune function, reduces stress, and feels great. Visit a local comedy club, rent silly films, read the funnies, and visit www.jokes.com.
Sip tea that’s good for you and for your sisters. Zhena’s Gypsy Tea CodePink is a fair-trade, raspberry-scented Earl Grey that’s made by a women-owned company. Profits go to CodePink: Women for Peace, and heck, it’s even organic.
Anna Soref writes from her home office in Lafayette, Colorado.