So I got a sneak peek of Chana's post for a Healthy New Year (go and subscribe to her blog so you'll get to see it when it comes out!) and it got me to thinking about how the holidays seem to be all about internal checkups. What kind of person have I been, what kinds of actions have I taken against and for others this year?
But her post made me think about the physical as well. Have I taken care of my body this year? Have I eaten healthy foods, have I made good choices about the various products and foods that I put into and onto my body in the previous year? And with that...what can I do to do better in the New Year? How can I take better care of my physical self, which will in turn help me to take better care of my mental, emotional, and spiritual self?
So here are some of my suggestions for a healthier Elul, which might lead to a healthier year:
1. Get a physical. When was the last time you saw your doctor for a well-visit? Most of us are incredibly careful about taking our children in for their annual physical, usually egged on by the forms that we have to fill out for camps, sports and school. But once we outgrow the need for those forms, we sometimes skip out on the annual physical as well. Get checked out. Elul is a good time to schedule that checkup!
2. Get a new toothbrush. I always replace my toothbrush at Pesach, but obviously it needs to be replaced more often. When was the last time you did that? Worn-out toothbrushes can harbor bacteria, which you certainly don't need.
3. Run your cosmetics and other products through the Cosmetic Safety Database. While we certainly can't eliminate all toxins from our bodies and our world, we can certainly learn something and be knowledgeable about the products we are using. Maybe this is the time to change just one product to a "healthier" version - or maybe you don't need that artificial fragrance at all! It can't hurt to examine this aspect of your life.
4. Check the expiration dates of cosmetics, medicines, foods, etc. Do you really want all that old stuff cluttering up your medicine cabinet, your pantry, your life? Just as we declutter our heads before Rosh HaShanah, let's declutter our shelves too.
5. Wash your hands. Are you a regular hand-washer? Now is the time to add this simple step into your routine. Conveniently, the holidays fall right before the flu and cold season begins so it's plenty of time to get your habits in place to wash your hands.
6. Consider eating less meat. Take one day a week to be a "meatless" day or even two days! You know it's healthier, it's also better for the environment, and it's a simple thing to do. I'm sure this isn't the first place that you've read this suggestion - so give it a try, just until the holidays. You never know, you might like it!
7. Try a new exercise. Take a yoga class or try pilates. Spin or do a new aerobics class. Take your walk along a different route. Get your body moving and grooving - you might find that it helps with the spiritual side of Elul as well!
8. Hug your family. Physical contact with others is important for personal well-being. Don't let yourself get caught up in the separation of modern life, but instead remember to hold hands, give hugs, rub backs.
9. Drink a cup of tea. Studies show that green tea is good for you, but I also think that there's something soothing about holding a nice hot cup of carefully made tea. It's also a good way to remind you to slow down and look around...don't let each day go by so fast.
10. Eat a cookie and enjoy it. Being healthy isn't always about feeling guilty when you "eat the wrong thing." So once in a while, have a cookie or a piece of candy, don't forget to treat and indulge yourself occasionally. And remember that a treat is best when it doesn't happen all the time!
What are some of your tips and ideas for a healthy new year?