1. Eat green food. Make sure every day you eat a salad or steamed greens. I like salad with something hot tossed on top: steamed green peas, sautéed mushrooms, or zucchini and garlic. It takes 5 minutes and gives cleansing immune benefits that last beyond that day.
2. Give thanks. We can bring grace into our spring with remembering what is right, rather than what is wrong, with our lives. Research from psychologists all over the world finds the happiest people can name what they are grateful for.
3. Invest in your natural and organic foods. By now many of us have heard we “should” eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, yet for some folks this is a challenge. Rather than waiting for the pharmaceutical treatments, create a way of life that incorporates fresh, organic and natural fruits and veggies. There is abundant lycopene in organic, locally grown tomatoes. Rosemary, beets, red bell peppers, plums, pears, citrus, non-GMO soy (tofu, not texturized vegetable protein), nuts and seeds all contain compounds that assist in the immune repair. Find the natural foods you love to eat. Invest in your future and let the fast food corporations do without your dollar.
4. Walk. If you are not yet exercising every day, take a walk. It sounds so simple yet the rewards are profound. Walking with a friend has been shown to alleviate depression, varicose veins, heart conditions, and a host of common conditions. It’s not the elevated heart rate at the gym that makes the biggest difference in the long term; it’s the communion with one’s world.
5. Expand your vegetable repertory. Turned off by the tired old iceberg lettuce, pale tomato wedge and sugary/salty dressings high in fat or artificial flavors? Add one new vegetable to your shopping list every week. Take home celeriac, jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), fennel bulb, jicama (pronounced HICK-ah-ma), or other unfamiliar item in your grocery store, and experiment!
6. Include garlic to your meals once a week. Garlic (Allium sativum) has multiple benefits to your personal health and your family’s well-being, from blood sugar control to immune response to the challenges of illness that circulates at this time of year. A reasonable food to alter long-standing allergies, garlic also helps clear the blood stream of excess lipids (high cholesterol and triglycerides), gently lowering high blood pressure over time.
7. Switch off caffeine for one day a week. On whatever is your day of rest, let your body decide when you have had enough sleep, without an alarm clock or the jump-start that coffee delivers to the nervous system. The alkaloids in coffee, tea, and chocolate are a gift on occasion, but if you get headaches without it or have trouble sleeping through the night, the simplest trick is to take a break from all the stimulation. At least match every cup of coffee with an eight ounce glass of water.
8. Unplug. It’s hard to recall a time, not so long ago, when we didn’t have a phone in our hands at every hour of the day or night. Electrical stimulation from computer screens and LED displays of all descriptions create tension. Do you really HAVE to see the next episode streaming live today? Give yourself this test: how long can you unplug before you have to reconnect electronically? If it is less than 24 hours, you may have an addiction worth attending to, one day at a time. Of course, if you are responsible for peace talks or curing cancer, you might need to choose the right time to unplug. But all of us are able.
9. Spice up your life. The ancient spice road that fueled the spread of travel and exploring the known world flourished because humans flourish with flavors and aromas that nourish the body and the soul. Try two drops of lime essential oil in your bath tonight. Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric to your spaghetti sauce before simmering twenty minutes. Add antioxidant ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and a dash of red or black pepper to your morning brew of tea or coffee. Let your taste buds and your imagination carry you into your day with a sense of adventure. We may need aroma more than sweeteners to enliven us for the work we have in front of us today.
10. Find love. Every one of us is challenged these days. Find something to love about the situation you are in. Only through loving what is are we freed to find what is next.