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12 Habits to Make Your New Year a Healing One

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January 12, 2022

1. Eat a brain boosting breakfast

Oatmeal, waffles, toast, grits are all loaded with carbohydrates. While not inherently bad, carbs are not a good way to start your day! Once converted to glucose in your body, these foods cause blood sugar spikes, giving you a short burst of energy followed by a “crash”. Repeatedly spiking your blood sugar can also lead to insulin resistance, which can make it hard to manage weight, affect other hormone levels, increase your risk of dementia, and cause more sugar cravings. Unchecked, insulin resistance can develop into type 2 diabetes.

One of the best things you can do to improve your energy levels throughout the day is to eat a breakfast high in protein and fat. Eggs, sausage, and avocados are fantastic breakfast foods that help regulate your blood sugar, provide sustained energy, and keep you full until lunch!

2. Try grounding

Research shows that having direct skin contact with the Earth’s surface can have a positive impact on inflammation, immune responses, wound healing, sleep, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Our modern lifestyles keep us from having frequent contact with the Earth’s abundant energy, so we need to go out of our way to connect in this healing way. Try walking barefoot in your yard or kick your shoes off during your hike a few times a week.

3. Daily 10 minute stretching routine

One very simple way to improve your energy in the morning is by improving your blood flow! Stretching for just 10 minutes can alleviate tension from sleeping the night before, increase focus for the day ahead, reduce stress, improve your posture, and improve brain function. Try doing this routine once a day:

  • Standing quad stretch
  • Downward dog
  • Forward fold (try to touch your toes)
  • Runners lunge
  • Cat-cow
  • Child’s pose
  • Lying torso twist
  • Butterfly stretch

4. Take 3 deep breaths before you react

Many of us have underlying anger or other unchecked emotions, and often when a situation arises that gives us an excuse to unleash those feelings we jump on it. Next time you feel the urge to react, challenge yourself to take 3 deep breaths to center yourself and make sure you are responding appropriately to the situation at hand.

5. Release your anger in a healthy way

Related to #4, while taking our anger out on others is not a helpful strategy, releasing those emotions in other ways is important. Here are some tools that you may find useful for channeling anger and other big emotions:

  • Mindful exercise
  • Slowly tense and relax each muscle group one at a time
  • Write it out- just dump all of your thoughts on a page
  • Expressive art. Clay or torn-up collage are good physical forms

6. Practice forgiveness

This year, try being more mindful about the grudges and expectations you hold. We can all do well to practice forgiveness for ourselves and others. No one is perfect, and this world needs more bridges, not chasms. A bit of understanding can help soften the sharp edges all around us and make life a bit better for everyone.

7. We know it’s cheesy- but try looking for the silver lining!

Believe it or not, something great has happened to you today; you just have to look for it! If we focus on the negatives, we just increase our stress and cortisol levels, which can increase inflammation in the body. The glass really is half full if you choose to see it that way. Read more about how cortisol affects the body here.

8. Schedule time for your favorite hobby- or start a new one!

Do you have a creative outlet? Do you like to hike, or take classes at the gym? And do you actually make time to do these things, or do they tend to get put on the back burner in favor of chores?

Making time for your hobbies is important for avoiding burnout, reducing stress, and promoting your overall mental health. This year, make sure you schedule time for yourself! Having a creative outlet- even those adult coloring books- reduces anxiety, slows your heart rate, boosts your mood, and can even help you process trauma. Creative activities are even a common therapy for dementia patients, as it helps them reconnect with their personality and reduces feelings of isolation.

9. Use a Neti Pot

If you haven’t heard of a Neti Pot, it is a small teapot-shaped device that you can use to easily flush out your sinuses. All you have to do is put the spout in one nostril and tilt your head. The saline solution flushes your nasal passages and comes back out the other nostril. It is very gentle and you can still breathe through your mouth easily during the rinsing.


Using a Neti Pot clears backed up mucus, limits congestion, improves breathing, and relieves sinus pressure. Research even shows that COVID patients who used a Neti Pot were 19 times less likely to be hospitalized.

10. Switch TV time for reading time once a week

Most of us have at least a few books around the house that we bought but still haven’t read. Try to set time aside each week to read. Reading keeps your vocabulary sharp and can give you a chance to learn something new.

We can’t possibly do everything in this life, but we can live vicariously through others and learn from their experiences. Try a biography! Our care coordinator Danielle recommends Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. He was born a mixed child during South African apartheid- literally born a crime. This book made me laugh out loud, and cry real tears.

11. Clean up your diet

Choose one of these things to remove from your diet for one month and see how you feel:

12. Get your vitamin D levels checked

Vitamin D is a powerhouse for supporting your immune system and is especially important for autoimmune patients. It is also important for bone joint health. Read all about vitamin D here. This year, make sure you add a vitamin D test to your blood work. Either way, a large portion of the US population does not receive adequate vitamin D so it’s a good idea to supplement!

Many times reading a list like this can feel overwhelming. But, I bet you saw one or two ideas that seemed interesting? Maybe leaving a few cues around the house for yourself to remind you about that idea could help you incorporate it into your lifestyle so it doesn’t become another lost resolution. Personally, I think #7 & #12 could be life changing. Luckily we have a whole year to practice some of these and to see what sticks – Are you ready for your glass to be half full in 2021?

Yours in health,

Dr. Ian

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