Four strategies to get the new year off and running on a healthier, happier, less stressful path.
January 1 offers the chance to start afresh and implement new life strategies that will boost your wellbeing. If you're unsure what those life strategies should be, start by "checking in" with a few of the key areas of your life – diet, exercise, "me" time and goals – that can help you reach optimum wellbeing. Donal Carr is a member of the CHEK Faculty, an internationally recognised holistic system that supports people to reach their health, wellbeing and life goals. Carr says checking in is crucial.
"A key part of our system is about getting to know your four doctors: Dr Quiet, Dr Diet, Dr Movement and Dr Happiness. They're your panel of experts. Consult them daily and they'll help you take control of your happiness."
Begin today. Each of these strategies are easy, so start the year the way you want to see it through: on a positive, healthy, less stressed note.
Pay a visit to Dr Diet
What it means: Eat less processed foods and drink more water.
"Most Australians eat too many refined carbohydrates, preservatives and additives," Carr says. He believes minimising these from your diet will immediately boost your health. He also recommends being tested for your metabolic type – protein, carbohydrate or mixed – so you can choose foods that resonate best with your body.
Increasing your water intake will help you physically and emotionally. "There are 10 billion biochemical reactions per second in the human body and they're all water-dependent," Carr says. He says a dehydrated central nervous system can contribute to emotional disturbance.
Get it right today: Calculate how much water you require daily using the formula 0.033 x body weight in kilograms = number of litres. Prepare nutritious meals with grass-fed meat and dairy, organic fruit and vegetables and wholegrains.
Check in with Dr Quiet
What it means: Make room for more downtime.
"The most important thing to understand is we all run off a system that is powered by what can be likened to rechargeable batteries," Carr says.
"Regular quiet time helps us refuel so we can get on with the things we need to do to achieve our dreams, without falling in a heap along the way."
To honour our need to rest and recharge, the CHEK system recommends between 20 and 30 minutes of either active, passive or total rest.
"Total resting is sleep; passive rest is something your body is not actively involved in, but you are consciously aware of; and active rest is a light activity," Carr says.
Get it right today: Spend 20 minutes meditating or doing a mindful activity such as yoga, qi gong or tai chi. Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual for extra total rest.
Say hello to Dr Movement
What it means: Be more active.
"If you stop moving, you stop living," Carr says. "We weren't built to be stuck behind a desk for eight hours every day. What we want is to get the body pumping."
Carr prescribes a daily rhythm that is different to that of the modern corporate warrior and closer to that of our ancestors.
"Our hunter and gatherer ancestors would have been active for three to four hours per day, with long walks and short bursts of intense energy," Carr says.
"If you exercise properly, 30 minutes is more than enough time to sustain optimal health and wellbeing."
If you're just getting started, however, it's important you don't exercise too hard, too soon. "If you do too much too quickly, you will run your battery flat," Carr says. "Make sure you understand your food choices and quiet time activities are the things that give you the right energy to work with Dr Movement."
Get it right today: Spend 30 to 60 minutes a day exercising, including your warm-up and stretches, and write a plan to keep it in your schedule throughout 2012. Start with a low-intensity program such as walking, tai chi, yoga or swimming. Build up to higher-intensity workouts that include weight resistance and interval training.