How is 2018 treating you so far? Best wishes to all of you resolving to approach your health in a different way this year. By New Year’s Day I’m so aware of how off track I am from the practices that keep me grounded.That’s when I return to the principles of integrative health – nourish, move, rest and relax.
Perhaps you’ve put improved sleep on your list. We are starting to have a very good idea of how damaging sleep deprivation really is. Not the badge of honor we’ve always believed it was. Good sleep does so much for your body.
Or perhaps you’ve got new ideas for nourishment. What is so appealing about the integrative health approach is that nourishment can encompass so many forms – food, friendships, emotional support. Of course our diet is important and it’s worth taking time to figure out what foods really make your body thrive. But the way that you eat, and your relationship with food, is so important for nourishment.
Reassessing the way that you move is another admirable focus for integrative health. As we grow and evolve through the different phases and roles in life we need to look at the way we exercise and move our bodies. Some years we can put in a big effort to really improve our fitness level. Other years are for trying something totally new, like learning yoga after years of running. It’s all about being flexible and listening to what your body needs.
I heard on the radio this morning that 75% of people who made NY resolutions have already thrown in the towel. Still, January is a great month to bring mindfulness to our resolutions, whether we are still actively working with them or not.
As you launch into your new plan, spend some time reflecting on the times in your life when you felt vital and connected to abundant energy. How were the circumstances and structures of your life helping you move forward? What was motivating you keep on track? The key to lasting change is identifying what works for you and building on your successes.
Here are a few principles of integrative coaching that can help you through the foundational work of change:
- Spend some time noticing when you’re making choices that move you forward and when you’re making choices that move you away from your goals. Try to adopt a gentle, curious attitude that doesn’t judge. Are there triggers that pull you away from your goal? The more information you can gather about how the behavior fits in your life, the more power you will have to be creative about changing it.
Try on gratitude and acceptance for where you are
- Gratitude for a difficult situation, emotion or circumstance has always seemed counter-intuitive to me. What is the point of loving something I’m actively trying to change? But the energy devoted to negativity just burns away energy I could be devoting to moving forward.
Set an intention and then set a goal
- Connecting with your intention to feel better can be a very powerful force that keeps you sticking through the ups and downs. An intention relates to how you want to feel and the qualities of your life once you’ve reached your goal. The more you can visualize yourself in success, and make it as real as possible, the easier it will be to cope with the tedious days.
Experiment, experiment, experiment
- Consider taking an experimental approach to your resolution. Change your behavior for one day and see how it feels and how it works in your life. Make notes about what worked and what didn’t. Try a different approach another day. You’ll find what works best for you.
Smaller healthy choices support each other
- As you focus on change in one area, don’t forget about healthy self-care in other areas. Small changes build on each other without the effort of a full-out attack. Treat yourself to wonderful walks or look up old friends or, more deliciously, take a nap or trade a massage. Consider adding in a feel-good healthy treat every day.