As we approach the new year, I’m reminded of something I learned 30 years ago when I was struggling with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I began a lifelong journey towards health. There is always a path forward. It’s not an instant cure or a guarantee of life without pain. Instead, it’s way to find more ease, more joy, less discomfort.
At times, this is hard to believe. Life can throw us curve balls and it may seem difficult to find light in times of darkness.
What’s true is that light is always there.
When I was in acupuncture school, I was taught that, in ancient times, the herbs a person needed would grow just outside their home. I believe that this teaching remains relevant. The things we need to heal are close by – in the food we eat, the exercises we do, in the quieting of the mind, in the restorative power of sleep, and in the arms of the people we love.
Life gets busy, stressful, and often we forget our own miraculous ability to heal. I’m in my 60s now. My body is less forgiving than it once was. Yet when I listen to it, I’m constantly finding ways of renewed health.
You can too!
My work has always focused on small, sustainable changes that lead to improved health and well-being.
Here are my top 8 suggestions for 2022 to live a life filled with health & happiness, all of which are low-cost and readily available.
1) Eat more vegetables.
The easiest way to incorporate this suggestion is to add a serving of vegetables to your diet every day. Choose something that is not part of your current diet. I recommend adding a vegetable to your midday meal. Soup, roasted vegetables, and stir-fries are all good choices.
See my food blog for recipes.
2) Take a walk.
This is one of the easiest forms of exercise. Remember to wear a good pair of sneakers or hiking boots. Walking offers the benefit of movement along with an opportunity to experience the healing powers of the outdoors.
Here are some places in Western Massachusetts.
3) Buy a buckwheat pillow.
I recommend this to my patients who experience neck pain. A buckwheat pillow conforms to the shape of your neck and offers support. No more waking up with a stiff neck!
Here are recommendations for what to buy.
4) Get some extra fiber.
We should be getting a least 30-50 grams of fiber a day. Fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits & vegetables. Even when we eat these foods, we often don’t get a s much fiber as we need.
Add a tablespoon of this prebiotic fiber to your diet.
5) Relax your muscles more.
I don’t love the term stretch. Stretching is thought of a something that we tack on to our exercise routines. I think of strength training and aerobic exercises as activities that contract and strengthen muscles. Muscles that are constantly in a contracted state end up causing pain and discomfort. Muscles need time to relax. Think of stretching as having a conversation with the tight parts of your body. Breathing in to restricted areas and allowing them to relax creates a life filled with more ease. My personal favorite way to do this is with a Pilates on the Ball workout.
Pilates on the Ball DVD
Pilates on the Ball Book & DVD
6) Cut back or eliminate processed foods, sugar, diary, caffeine and alcohol.
Processed foods are devoid of the nutrients that our body needs to function optimally. Sugar creates inflammation in the body. Diary can cause overproduction of phlegm. Studies show that caffeine offers some health benefits as it is rich in anti-oxidants, but I see many patients who are revved up from coffee and have trouble getting a good night’s sleep. Alcohol turns to sugar in the body and heavy drinking is associated with increased risk of death.
While there isn’t a one-sized-fits-all recommendation for intake of these foods, most people are better off either eliminating them or making sure they’re used occasionally and consciously.
I absolutely believe that we should enjoy the food we eat and not feel like we’re depriving ourselves. There are so many healthy, nutritious meals.
Take a look at my Yummy, Healthy Food Blog
7) Start a meditation practice.
This requires no special knowledge or equipment. You just slow down, go inside and sit with what is. Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches that each of the 5 main organs has a corresponding positive and negative emotion and when these emotions are in balance this leads to better health.
Listen to my 5 element 5 organ meditation and find this balance.
8) Practice gratitude.
The more you count your blessings, the more blessings you will find to count. Our nervous systems are wired to look for danger, which is a survival mechanism. But trust me, most of the time immediate danger doesn’t exist. When we retrain ourselves to look for beauty, joy and appreciate the good things in our life, we have the ability to experience a paradigm shift. The world can become a safe and forgiving place.
Here’s one way to begin a gratitude practice.
One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that the path forward is not a solitary one. We humans are wired to need connection with each other. None of us live in isolation.
If you find yourself struggling, reach out to a trusted friend or family member. You might be surprised to learn that they are going through something similar to you. Shared pain is pain halved.
If you’re looking for additional support, I offer free ½ hour consultations to new patients or those who haven’t seen me in a while.
Simply, schedule one here: https://www.bonniediamond.com/free-consultation.html
Remember, we’re all in this grand experiment we call life together.
Sending blessings for the holiday season and the new year!
In practice for over 20 years, Bonnie Diamond offers individualized, heart-centered care using a pain-free, Japanese style of acupuncture. Her work is influenced by her nine year struggle with and complete recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.