This week is one of my very favorite weeks: my ‘anti-inflammation’ week for my mind, body and soul. I try to reduce inflammation in my physical, mental and emotional system to prime myself for a cleaner and clearer slate for the new year. Join along and let me know how you feel as you step into 2018!
These days are the last few pages of the 2017 chapter—a time to simmer in the holiday warmth, finish up any loose ends and start to dream-storm what 2018 gets to look like. I consider this week holy. Time feels slower, emails are quiet, more reading gets done and there is a natural cheer in the air, filled with Happy New Year wishes. The holidays can be a whirlwind—travel, different routines, rich and decadent food can throw you off your game. No matter how mindful you are. But practicing some intentional self-care can put you back on track and in the driver’s seat so you can head into 2018 feeling your best.
For my mind:
Being consistent with my daily meditation practice is a game changer, even if I can only fit 10 minutes in my morning routine. Not only do I feel calmer and clear-headed, but I also notice I am less emotionally reactive and manage stress more effectively. My meditation practice doesn’t just make me feel good, I know it is also doing good for my brain. A study conducted by Carnegie Mellon demonstrated that participating in a 3-day mindfulness meditation retreat generated more functional connectivity between areas of the brain and showed lower levels of inflammation in blood work than a similar demographic of people who completed a 3-day, relaxing mindfulness retreat. This research proves the importance of a meditation practice. It can have a positive impact on one’s physiology and actually reduce inflammation in the mind and body. I’m especially amazed that in just 3 days the scientists could detect a difference in the participants’ biochemistry.
Meditating not only feels pleasant, but I consider it a routine, just like brushing my teeth. Meditating reduces brain inflammation, just like brushing my teeth reduces gum inflammation, and my practice leaves my mind feeling minty fresh and clean, just like after a good tooth-brushing session. Staying consistent with my morning meditation routine re-grounds me so I can feel more mentally refreshed and open to the possibilities of the New Year.
For my body:
I don’t believe in diets or restricting myself (because life is too short to not enjoy!). However, I do believe in mindful eating and making more intentional food choices based on the wisdom and cravings of my body. For instance, post holiday ho-down, I typically notice I feel sugar-overloaded, dehydrated, and bloated. Sound familiar? Usually this combination is the result of eating more decadent food than I am used to and not being as physically active. That’s why in anti-inflammation week, I make sure to focus on what I am fueling myself with and how I move my body.
The magical three fueling tips, I practice this week are WSC—hot water, soup and cruciferous vegetables to restore my body’s equilibrium.
1. Water — especially hot water! with lemon, ginger and a cinnamon stick. This 3-some aids in digestion and reducing inflammation. I drink this first thing in the morning and continue to re-fill this concoction with additional hot water throughout my day.
2. Soup — I love how comforting, nutrient-dense and filling soup can be, especially when it is non-dairy. I prefer to make a bunch of homemade soups so that at least one of my daily meals can be soup-based, to support my digestive track getting a bit of a break. Some of my go-tos are homemade chicken vegetable, lentil sweet potato or broccoli.
3. Cruciferous veggies — at every meal. These vegetables are typically what you think of when you imagine fibrous vegetables: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choi, broccoli rabe, brussel sprouts, cabbage, etc. Research suggests that a phytochemical, sulforaphane, found in these veggies have endless health benefits that helps detoxify the body’s system. I make sure to have a medley of different vegetables throughout my week.
And of course I sweat! This week I tend to be less in the yoga and Pilates mindset and crave more cardio classes such as spin, speed-walking or a run. Sweating is key to flushing out the lymphatic system and getting my blood flowing to help cleanse and neutralize my internal bio-dome as much as my emotional and mental.
For my soul:
Slower, colder and quieter days call for space to be introspective and creative. Typically I love to be creative in the kitchen, but post the holidays, I try to keep it simple so my creative outlet gets to come alive in the form of writing or collage-making. I spend time letting my mind wander and connect to my voice. This sometimes comes out in the form of free-writing, poetry or a personal story. This week, building my 2018 vision board called my name. I rummaged through old magazines and selected what images stand out for my 2018 mindset and inspiration.
Due to all of the holiday parties and festivities, I crave to be a bit more introverted this week. I minimize the desire to numb or mask my true emotions with social media or Netflix-binging and instead, go inwards to connect and have my soul goals listened to and honored. I cut through the inflammation of the loud external world and work on dialing it in to what truly matters.
Intentionally making space to take care of myself in this holistic fashion honors my 2017 and is the best investment I can make for my year to come. How are you honoring your 2017 while gearing up for 2018? Share with me in the comments below.