It’s that time of year again — time for self-reflection and fresh starts. This year, let’s all make some resolutions we can keep! Lucky for us, Asheville is the perfect place to get our wellness on. Here are some great ways you can support yourself in having a happy and healthy 2014 — Asheville style.
1. Simplify: Have you heard it said that our physical surroundings reflect our inner life? When was the last time you went through your living space and really looked at each thing you own, asking yourself, “Does this support me in being my happiest, healthiest self?” For some of us clutterbugs (ahem), this can be quite an undertaking, but it all starts with diving in. I challenge you to choose one room in your house and go through it, piece by piece. Have a garbage bag, a recycling bag and a giveaway bag or box handy. And remember, there are local businesses that specialize in finding a new home or new use for your old stuff! Pay a visit to the newly rebuilt Goodwill on Smokey Park Highway in West Asheville. Drop by the cool new warehouse location for The Regeneration Station, now across from Brother Wolf Animal Rescue on Glendale Ave. Or, call Asheville Junk Recyclers! If it’s not serving your highest and best, give it the boot.
2. Smile More: Recent studies have shown that smiling is good for your health. The physical act of mashing the corners of your mouth up into the shape of a smile — even if you’re forcing it — can support a healthy heart rate, reduce stress, fight depression and help you feel happier. The expression “fake it ‘til you make it” applies here. So, whether you feel like smiling or not, give it a go. In fact, the more ridiculous your forced, fake smile is, the more likely you are to crack up laughing and be raking in those smiling benefits! And as an added bonus, studies also show that physiological responses within the body upon seeing someone else smile are similar to when we smile ourselves. So smile, and help yourself and anyone who lays eyes on you feel better. Extra credit: Mark your calendar now for Aug. 12-16 and get yourself to the eighth annual Laugh Your Asheville Off comedy fest!
3. Change Your Focus: This is the part where I tell you not to think about pink elephants. Don’t do it. No pink elephants for you. So, what is the oldest example in the book doing in this list? In this case, I’m calling on these rosy pachyderms to challenge you to stop focusing on the things you don’t want in your life. The key to shifting away from unhelpful situations, people, places, things, thoughts and habits is to focus intently on what we do want our lives to look like and to take small, steady steps to manifest that. Need some help maintaining positive focus? Try making a vision board. Swing by True Blue Art Supply to get some thick paper or poster board, glue and scissors, then mosey on over to Downtown Books & News to pick up a stash of magazines with words and images that capture the essence of the ideal life you envision for yourself. (And of course, you can dig through any old mags you have lying around at home if, say, you haven’t quite gotten around to tip number one.) With your supplies in hand, create a collage board that represents all the good things you’re calling into your life. Hang it up somewhere where you will see it often, and take an extra minute here and there throughout your day to really focus on it and all it represents to you.
4. Drink More Water: Thanks to the sweet mountain springs in Eastern Buncombe County that make up the main water source for our community, Asheville’s drinking water is considered to be some of the best in the nation. So, grab your water bottles and start chugging, friends. The old thinking on daily water consumption was that eight glasses (of approximately 8 oz. each) per day was the gold standard for all people. As it turns out, however, that only holds true if you happen to weigh about 128 lbs. The latest recommendations for staying optimally hydrated are to take the number that is half of your body weight and drink that in ounces. In other words, if you weigh 180 lbs., divide 180 in half and you get 90, meaning you should ideally drink 90 oz. of water a day. Check out how many ounces your favorite water bottle holds and determine how many bottlefuls you need to drink each day to get to your goal. Drinking this much water will not only help your muscles, skin, kidneys and digestion, but it will also help to regulate appetite and support healthy eating habits.
5. Try Something New: From traditional medical support to alternative and complementary healing modalities, Asheville has a wide range of options to consider when looking to give your personal wellness a boost. Surely, none of us have tried them all. In 2014, step out of your routine and try something new. Shrug off stress with a hot-stone massage. Try a combination of acupuncture and Chinese medicinals. Take a yoga class, a meditation class, or a Reiki class. Do something that invigorates and encourages the part of you that is committed to living healthier each day. Not sure what to try first? Check out the Asheville Wholistic Integrative Fair — coming up on Mar. 8 at the Renaissance Hotel on Woodfin St. — where you can meet a variety of local wellness professionals, try out their services, and learn more about what they do.
Bonus tips for the extra-inspired
– Looking for healthy eating support or a solution to a seemingly unsolvable medical challenge? Head over to Malaprops and check out the book Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.
– Get an unlined journal. Write in it; draw in it; glue things to it; make lists in it; vent in it; rejoice in it. Carry it with you.
– Have an attitude of gratitude. Look for the gift in everything, especially the hardest things. Choose love.
– Imagine you are a tree, with your roots winding deep into the earth as you reach for the sky. Walk in balance in this way as you go about your day.
– Once a day, every day, look yourself in the eye in the mirror and say, “I love you.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it at first. Keep going.
Freelance writer Haley Steinhardt has called Asheville home since 2003. When she’s not writing, she runs a local wellness practice, Blue Mountain Reiki, and spends time with her sweet family.