Winter Solstice Review

 

From Dark to Light to Well-Being

By Marilynn Preston

It’s time for my end-of-the-year roundup, a merry and maddening mix of noteworthy trends, predictions and possibilities, partial at best. The thread throughout is about personal well-being and how you can choose to make health and happiness a priority in 2018, leaving behind all the oppressive, outrageous and otherwise horrifying developments of 2017.

2017’S Hottest trend

The rise of the Pothead “Potheads” – now that I’ve gotten your attention – is the collective nickname for people who worship the Instant Pot, a popular brand of electric multi-cookers that have gone viral and revolutionized the home cooking industry. So? It’s what positive change looks like. The more people cook real food, stews and soups in their own homes, the less processed food, chemicals and additives they eat. And if substituting real food for fake toxic processed food isn’t at the top of your list of New Year’s resolutions lurching into 2018, it should be. At least think about it.

2017’s no.1 key to feeling better

It’s still exercise. You must be tired of hearing this. Please excuse. Moving your body every day, doing some physical activity – sweeping the floor, planting a garden and taking a 15-minute walk count – is still the single best thing you can do for whatever ails you, from depression to diabetes, from heart disease to headaches. Running? Dancing? Slow yoga? Whatever your choice, the research shows you don’t have to do a whole heck of a lot lot of exercise to make a difference. In fact, going from sedentary to something can produce profound changes in how you feel. So start where you are, even if your favorite emojis are the couch and potato, and find a physical activity that feels like fun. That’s the key. (Finding happiness while dusting is a challenge, I admit.)

Worst health development of 2017

The continuing opioid addiction crisis is heartbreaking. It’s been called the worst drug crisis in American history, killing people of all income levels and backgrounds at an astonishing rate in all 50 states. Doctors believed Big Pharma when they insisted that prescription painkillers weren’t addictive. Wrong! Now what? There are dozens of remedies supposedly being kicked around and around – more counseling, better therapies – but the one move that would do the most good the most quickly isn’t being talked about at all. Stop allowing direct-to-consumer drug ads on TV. Only four governments in the world permit it: the U.S., New Zealand, Hong Kong and Brazil. Every other country has banned this kind of advertising, because it creates a demand for drugs that consumers may or may not need – drugs that typically come with unpleasant, sometimes deadly, side effects. All it takes is an act of Congress to stop it. (I hear you laughing.)

Best wake-up call of 2017

All the research is in: If you’re on the path to personal well-being, 2018 is the year you want to wake up to the importance of getting enough sleep. Technology is there to engage you 24/7, so now, more than ever, we need to turn off our devices and put them in another room so we can let our bodies rest, sleep, restore, renew. Getting too little sleep has been linked to mental confusion and cognitive dysfunction: evidenced by, say, deciding to drink 12 Diet Cokes every single day. Too little sleep is also a factor in obesity, heart disease and so much more. Don’t overthink it. Just buy yourself a sleep mask (to block off the light that activates the brain), learn a few breathing techniques and let go into the land of sweet dreams for a good seven to eight hours a night.

Best new device of 2017

There’s a lot of competition here, from rowing machines that fold down to the size of a toaster to wristwatch fitness trainers that count your calories and measure your heart rate. But no. My nomination for best device of 2017 is, was and may forever be the standing desk. There are more than 10,000 studies that lock down the dangers of too much sitting, and I’m happy to report that there are increasing numbers of people who work at standing desks and have wonderful stories to tell about less back pain, greater energy and better posture.

So stand up, rise up, and pursue personal well-being in 2018 as never before.

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