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How to Set Yourself Up for a Great Year


I've nicknamed myself "the finisher"... wait it's not cool to give yourself a nickname? Those don't stick? Anyway... It's not because I can do a cool WWE wrestling move that puts people to sleep, or because I'm secretly an assassin. I just REALLY like crossing things off of a to-do list. This has it's pros and cons because 1. I accomplish a lot of things, big and small, just for the sake of accomplishing things, and 2. I waste time finishing things that aren't important. For example, I'll do a half load of laundry even when I could wait 3 more days for a full load, JUST to see the bottom of the laundry basket. Or, my husband will offer to do the dishes in a mere 20 minutes, but since I could do them now, I'll just do it myself so the task is completed. Then I get mad at him because I "have to do everything myself"...  (I'm a real joy to live with, you guys). The point is: I get a charge from accomplishing even the most mundane things at any cost. So you can imagine, that "completing" a whole calendar year makes me want to hand out medals to everyone and yell "congrats!" With the fresh start of a calendar flip in mind, there are handful of things you can do to set yourself up for an absolutely great year. You might have tried the old "drink more water, get a gym membership... etc." but here are a few different ways you can be proactive and set yourself up for success this year. 

1. Get A Baseline

We've mentioned before that it's a good idea to know your numbers. But why now? Because waiting until something goes wrong is not a productive or proactive health care plan. Knowing where you stand now can help you put a plan in place to build up your weaknesses, and who knows... you might catch something before it's too late! We highly recommend finding a functional medicine practitioner (MD, DC, DO, ARNP, etc. that's trained in functional medicine) to help you test your nutrient levels (especially vitamin D!), blood sugar, inflammatory markers, and thyroid levels. The beginning of the year is IDEAL for testing, because doctor's offices naturally slow down at the end of the year. People are trying to get services squeezed in before their insurance starts over, and the holidays naturally make everything slower and more crowded. Preventative measures are best utilized at the beginning of the year!

2. Get Trendy

Did you know spices could be trendy? The can, and they are. Tumeric is on all of the hot health lists this year, and for good reason. Tumeric is a well-researched (over 5,500 studies) golden/orange powder from a tumeric root. It's a natural anti-inflammatory, pain-reliever, blood sugar stabilizer, and more. Try making a big batch of this golden milk chai latte concentrate, and using it throughout the week. We love things you can prep ahead of time!

3. Get Rid Stuff You Don't Need

This year is a great year to choose people and activities over things. There's a good chance you have enough, and you might even have plenty. Being stuck inside with cold weather (*midwest life*) is a stellar time to go through your house and ditch what you don't use. Do you NEED a TV in every room? Did you get duplicate Christmas gifts, or something you'll never wear? Get that crap out of your house. Declare a day "purge day" (not like the movie) and return unwanted gifts, make a goodwill trip, and re-sell higher quality items. Speaking of, Target let me return something that I don't even think was from Target, but I took that store credit gift card with glee and skipped like a child out the door. Also, there's probably an active buy-sell-trade, or resale group for your neighborhood on Facebook. Between selling things craigslist, consignment stores, and Facebook, you can get some serious cash in your pockets for stuff you weren't using anyway.

4. Get Real Serious About Bedtime

Call bedtime up and ask it to be your best friend. Heck, ask it to be more than friends. Tell bedtime that you not only like it, but you even "like like" it. Take bedtime on a nice date, and let it order whatever it wants. Why? Because how many people have told you to "get more rest" and you immediately forgot? So many. Starting an elaborate night time routine you enjoy will not only help you sleep better, but will keep you from doing pointless things in the evening. If you're focused on the bedside ambiance, essential oils, and luxurious face wash, you probably aren't answering work emails that can wait until tomorrow, or stalking your ex-girlfriend's Instagram (WHO CARES). Try to institute as many of the following as you can (in no particular order):

  • Add an essential oil. This is not just for girls. It sounds girly. It's not. Lavender is the best oil for getting that calm, sleepy, peaceful feeling. Add oils to a bath, or diffuse them in the air before bed. You can also put a few drops in some coconut oil and rub it on your skin. Lavender oil = $10-15, and will last nearly forever. Invest.
  • Read something written on actual paper. You can pick literally anything between War and Peace, and Us Weekly. Getting your eyes off a screen 30 minutes before bed can help you sleep better, AND be more alert the next day. Just can't give up the phone? Again, invest ($10-15) in some blue-light blocking glasses to protect your peepers and your brain from the wrong kind of light. 
  • Add magnesium. Because magnesium plays a vital part in your energy cycle, it's completely necessary to properly rest. Magnesium is needed in nearly every cell in your body. It's in high demand, and we burn through it quickly. Research shows it's an effective treatment for insomnia, and can prevent stress hormones (cortisol) from entering the brain. Magnesium works best with calcium (which is why we've paired them together!), and both work best "chelated" or "activated" (paired to amino acids). Take them at night when your body is most ready to use them.
  • Turn down the lights, and the sounds. Swap overhead lights for lamps an hour before you want to go to bed. Keep music and electronics at a low volume. Believe it or not, before bed isn't the best time to watch a show where a bunch of people get shot, or yell, or battle each other. *cough--game of thrones--cough*
  • Make bed a place you want to be. Get the right amount of pillows, nice sheets, and some unnecessarily large blankets.  Who's dying to climb into an underwhelming and uncomfortable bed? Not you.

It's ok if your new nightly routine takes time, because that time is worth the return of good sleep. From a functional medicine perspective, poor sleep can start a whole cascade of negative events. Sleep deprivation increases inflammatory proteins in your blood like IL-6 and CRP. When these proteins are high, they perpetuate the vicious cycle of inflammation, leading to auto-immune disorders, heart disease, and a weaker immune system. Sleep is a huge part of making this year great!


Are you ready to take on the next 12 months?

I hope so, because you don't have a lot of other options. Set yourself up for a GREAT year by putting in a little effort now... in January... when nothing else is happening. Also, just to let you guys know, I got to cross "first blog post of the year" off my to-do list, and I feel like a champion already. 

Hannah Anderson
Hannah Anderson