“From my perspective, the top health challenge facing Western North Carolina isn’t a health condition but the question of how we level the playing field,” says Ameena Batada, associate professor of health and wellness at UNC Asheville. “How do we make sure that all communities are supported, protected, safe and healthy? If we could make Western North Carolina a healthier place for everyone, that would be great.” Batada says that when it comes to boosting her own health, regular meditation has made a big difference in her life. “It helps me to train myself to be in the present moment and to have more tempered and informed responses to the situations that arise,” she explains.
As for her resolutions for the coming year, Batada says she wants to be more intentional about recognizing and disrupting bias when she sees it. “This speaks to my public health interest — including my own,” she points out. Research, notes Batada, has shown that racism is a major influence on health.
What’s her one piece of advice about how to have a happier and healthier new year? Just be good to yourself. “Do what feels comfortable: Set goals for yourself, but also recognize that everyone is trying,” she says. “We live in changing times. Sometimes just staying the same is progress.”