I awoke January 1, 2017 still tired, feeling the lingering effects of a nasty cold and flu that I got hit with exactly 3 days earlier, in the white cold of snowy Whistler, Canada; where we were hunkered down in a cabin with dear friends and our children. The highlight of the last night for me had been sending the kids off to bed at 9 p.m. with sparkling apple juice amidst the sparkling ice. No champagne, no dessert, I didn’t make it past 10 p.m. and didn’t have a choice. I was in the thick of an icky feeling winter flu. A part of me rallied against it. I wanted to be more festive, I wanted to talk, to enjoy a nice glass of wine with dinner, but the inner quieter part of myself was more real.
That voice said, “You’ve been pushing too hard, you just need to slow down.”
It also helped that I literally could not talk except in a raspy whisper. 🙂 I made myself tea with ginger and turmeric. Multiple cups of it. I also pushed ginger and turmeric on everyone in the house, just in case I was still harbouring any bugs, plus it also alleviated my desire to care for others, vs. being the “sick one.”
But for much of the 1st, I relented into self-care mode. After watching my son ski his first little bunny hills (so fun, but so cold); I went to the Scandinave, a magical, thermal hot springs spa in Whistler where I alternated between sweating out the cold in a eucalpytus steam room, plunging into a cold pool, practicing some yoga in a heated solarium and watching the burnished gold sun set over the west coast mountains while in an outdoor heated pool. I was stuffy and congested, but unlike most of the other patrons, I was not hungover. It was a positive. My girlfriend joined me and after we had pickled ourselves in the warm water, we made our way back to the ski cabin where our partners and a friend had cooked up a delicious, nourishing meal. And despite still feeling crummy, it was a treat to have a day where I could focus on healing and resting and slowing down – and made me appreciate the deep desire of my body to completely shut down so I could rebuild and heal.
Which made me think about the ridiculous pace of life we currently live at. I know we all fall sick, I know in the Northern Hemisphere we are in the throes of flu season, but I also know that the reason we fall sick is because we don’t pay attention to our body’s cries for help. They begin gently, perhaps you feel an achy joint, or a sore throat, or feel tired. This is when most of us tend to push past the initial discomfort. We drink another cup of tea, or coffee, or take an advil. The next time, our body cries out a little louder, the time after that, it cries even louder – and this continues – unless we shift our lifestyle habits, don’t drink that extra cup of tea or coffee to get us through the day when we are tired and learn how to rest; or we finally succumb to the illness, whatever it is. Most illness builds up like this, whether its a seasonal flu, or something more chronic.
I don’t have a solution to never getting sick, but I’ve had some time this past week to think about strategies that draw from the wisdom traditions of Yoga and Ayurveda that have helped me to allay getting sick in the past – and they’re exactly what I turn toward to heal.
Read on to gain these powerful insights. My hope is that they help you to step gently forward into the new year, more in harmony with yourself vs. pushing yourself so you can create sustainable change in your life, that will support you as you embrace this new year full of possibility, optimism and goals.
As my father always said when I was growing up. “The only things in life no one can take away from you are your education and your health.”
So, here’s a toast to your health in 2017. May you have an incredible, bright, blissed and healthy new year.
7 Steps to Living Your Best Ever 2017
- Write out your intentions or goals for the year.
Tape them up on your bathroom mirror, or in the doorway of your home, or write them out on a chalkboard. Keep them visible, do not hide them and share them with your loved ones and your community so you can stay accountable to them.
- Eat seasonally.
Why? Because our food impacts our wellbeing like nothing else – it literally becomes us. And when we eat seasonally, we harmonize our internal environment with our external environment, which creates more equilibrium, and fortifies our bodies as we eat foods that have immune boosting properties appropriate to that particular season. E.g. eating squashes in the late fall/ winter provides us with lots of beta carotene, which we need right now, and mushrooms offer us a dose of Vitamin D, which we require as the sun dims in deep winter. Eat whole, organic foods that are in season. Use warming spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, cloves, black pepper, rosemary, thyme and sage. Think squashes, dark lacinato kale, whole grains such as wheat berries, quinoa and brown rice; pasture fed meats and eggs if you eat them; wild mushrooms and lentils and beans. This is a time of the year when not much grows and your body will have to rely on good fats such as cold pressed oils and butter and ghee to gain sustenance. One of my favorite meals right now is simple steamed root veggies over whole grains topped with ghee, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper and turmeric.
- Limit sweets slowly and keep upgrading to healthier options:
We allow ourselves indulgence on so many levels over the holiday season and then we try to go cold turkey in the New Year. This is not sustainable. However, know this, too much sweet dampens our digestion and when our digestive fire does not work efficiently, we feel sluggish and tired (which makes us want to reach for yet another cup of coffee). So now that you understand the “why” stop yourself before you head down that road that does not serve you!
- Get outside and move for the joy of it:
Especially when the weather is not delightful. Bundle up, rain or snow or shine and breathe some fresh, cool air. Walk, run, hike, bicycle, climb a mountain, walk by the ocean. Don’t do it to burn calories. Do it because movement is inherent in our DNA. It makes us happy. Take your kids, your partner, a friend. Do something that makes you smile – it does not have to be strenuous – but it should get your energy moving.
- Meditate even for 5 minutes every day.
Your meditation does not have to be on a cushion by your altar though that is nice. My meditation yesterday was watching the pacific ocean crash on a rocky beach. My yoga practice is sometimes my only meditation, sometimes I meditate when I put my son to sleep. Focus on your breath and repeat this simple mantra. I breathe in light, I breathe out dark. The dark is the parts of you that is a part of you, but is not serving you in your life right now. It could be stale emotions, state thoughts, negative chatter that brings you down, stuff like, I wish those pants looked better on my bum etc. etc. Whatever it is breathe it out. Trust me this stuff works.
- Get off the adrenaline treadmill.
Even if you’re one of those folks who gets a burst of energy at 10 p.m., know that this is when you actually want to calm down, not hype up, so that you keep your hormones more in balance and pre-empt adrenal burnout. Your body has enough stress to deal with in our busy modern lives during the day, so really do allow it to replenish and restore itself every night. This is your most important ticket to health. Wind down every night and ideally get to bed by 10 p.m.. Light a candle, have a bath with lavender, cedar wood and rose essential oils. Listen to some soothing music and get off your screens. Let your brain cells bathe in new blood and new oxygen.
- Express gratitude for being here, wherever you are right now, because that is exactly where you are meant to be.
Analysis is always helpful but at some point, we have to accept that we’ve made choices based on the wisdom of where we were at a particular point in our life, to lead us here. You can bemoan your choices constantly – I know, I’ve been there, we all have – but it helps so much to accept that we are not infallible and yet we are so capable of learning from our past. Where you choose to go, is now up to you and know that this pathway is as wide open as your thought field. You have the paintbrush to paint your canvas and you can even choose your colors!
That’s it for now. HAPPY 2017. May you continue to spread your inner light!!! And please do leave your comments.
Namaste + xo