Simple is better in health, too.
The New Year is upon us, in all of its promising potential. A year of new beginnings, new resolutions, and new possibilities. There may be much we cannot change around us — the economy, our jobs, housing, insurance. But we all can focus on our most important foundation — our health — to help carry us successfully through the next year.
A theme of simplicity may help herald change this New Year and can be approached in many different holistic ways:
1. I will simplify my food ingredients. I will look at the ingredient labels of everything I eat, and choose the foods with the least artificial ingredients, and least chemicals and additives. I will pick whole grains, and natural products in their most simple state possible (e.g. apple over apple sauce, milk over ice cream). I will take more time to shop for groceries and cook fresh produce, and eat out less.
2. I will simplify my finances. Instead of focusing on acquisitions this year, I will pick a debt to reduce. I will look at my monthly expenditures and find something to cut out — something I don’t need or use. I will cut down on the frequency of my shopping expeditions. I will carpool. I will eat out half as much as I used to. I will defer on a new wardrobe. I will explore secondhand shops. I will recycle.
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3. I will simplify my living area. I will create serene and clean living surroundings. I will focus on what I don’t need in my house and office, and give it away or recycle it (old furniture, books, clothes, toys). I will bring fresh plants into my living spaces. I will move into a smaller living area with less monthly expenditures. I will empty half of my clothes closet — anything I haven’t worn in the last 2 years.
4. I will simplify my health and my pill box. I will partner with my doctor in helping focus on prevention of one reversible illness I might have (pain, high cholesterol, obesity, depression, smoking). I will create an exercise regimen that I can do daily, with ease, which strengthens my body. By achieving better health, I will try to get rid of lifestyle meds — medications that I am on due to the lifestyle I had been choosing.
5. I will simplify my time commitments. I will say no to anything that is not a resounding yes. I will work less overtime. I will volunteer only in those causes I am passionate about. I will simplify my social calendar. I will schedule time for exercise into my daily calendar, and watch less than one hour of TV daily. I will sleep 7 hours a night.
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Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of Sutter Downtown Integrative Medicine program in Sacramento, Calif.