After the holiday presents are unwrapped and the New Year’s Eve glitter settles, the reality of a fresh start hits us. 2018 offers limitless possibilities and new beginnings, and you want to make the most of it. As you find yourself considering your vision for the year, where does your health fit into the equation? Doctors, professors, and other experts in the field of naturopathic medicine believe that setting wellness-driven resolutions will help you reach your full potential this year. Here are eight naturopathic new year’s resolutions you should consider adopting in 2018.

“Naturopathic medicine is about listening to your body and being in tune with the changes that need to be made to bring about health, wellbeing, and balance. Don’t wait to make a change that needs to be made—start today.

One resolution that can have a resounding impact on health and wellbeing is the art of being present.

Mindfulness and being in the moment is a powerful tool for the following reasons:

  • It allows us to fully engage and focus on the opportunities in front of us.
  • It minimizes the stress that comes with the ‘what ifs’. We don’t have power to change the past—our power is in the now.
  • It minimizes the stress that comes from worrying about the future.
  • It allows for better connection with our body and environment.

When we are fully present and in tune with our body, we can better understand the root cause of an issue and the impact of any one thing on us.

I think of mindfulness like a muscle—the more we practice, the stronger and more natural we get at it.

6 Short Mindfulness Exercises

1.     Mindful Bites.

Use the daily opportunity of eating to practice mindfulness! Take first couple of bites of any meal or snack you eat, and focus on the full experience—from the smell of the food, and how you feel as you anticipate eating, through to the textures and sensations as you eat. Apply gratitude to the nourishment and support it gives you to create a strong and functional body.

2.     One healing breath.

We can’t live without air, yet take this simple task for granted. Find a few moments each day to practice gratitude for breathing and fully experience the joy and peace of one breath. Pay attention to the sensations in your body as you breathe, and use the breath as a tool to let go of tightness or tension.

3.     Too much screen time?

Give your brain a break!

Instead of reflexively going to a device in the five minutes between meetings, or while waiting for something, try looking out your window and focusing on nature. Use mindfulness to give your brain a break rather than filling up every tiny space in your day by automatically reaching for a screen.

4.     Healing air.

Yes – air too can heal. Pay attention to the feeling of air on your skin for up to a minute – or more if you can. Expose as much skin as is appropriate – even if that’s just your cheeks in the dead of winter.

5.     Scan your body.

Scan your body, top to bottom for any sensations of discomfort or tension. Try softening any sensations of discomfort by breathing into those spaces, and filling them with healing light. Next, scan your body for areas of peace and relaxation.

6.     Do one action mindfully.

If none of the above work for you, pick one thing you do daily and choose to do it mindfully – paying attention to each step in the process and doing it all without judgment.

Wishing you all peace in the New Year.”

JoAnn Yanez, ND, MPH, CAE

Executive Director, Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC)

Resolution #2: Joshua Goldenberg, ND

“Practice 10 minutes of meditation every day.”

Joshua Goldenberg, ND

President, GastroANP

“With so much chaos in the world and a global sense of being overwhelmed, my new year’s resolution is to spend more time in silence and reflection and enjoying nature. My goal is to practice the art of intention and to remind myself (and my patients) every day of the power of the mind and the ability of the mind to heal. I am excited about the possibilities!”

Resolution #3: Iva Lloyd, BScH, BCPP, ND

President, World Naturopathic Federation

Resolution #4: Michelle Simon, PhD, ND

“My resolution is to not bite off more than I can chew! That relates to all aspects of life. Choosing healthy food portions, healthy work life balance, and sometimes saying ‘no’ to what seems like an important new endeavor to get involved in. There are so many opportunities to participate in with inspired, capable people doing good work! My goal is to keep laser-focused on the priorities I set out for me, in the year ahead.”

Michelle Simon, PhD, ND

President, Institute for Natural Medicine

Resolution #5: Fraser Smith, MATD, ND

“My resolution is to develop one new habit that is good for my health that I’ve put off and stick with it, and to rekindle one interesting hobby—perhaps playing music.”

Fraser Smith, MATD, ND

President, Assistant Dean, Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC), National University of Health Sciences

Resolution #6: Jaquel Patterson, ND, MBA

“Clear the mind and make time for self:

  • On New Year’s Day, spend at least two hours reflecting on how to incorporate some small, healthy habits into your lifestyle.
  • Spend at least one day away each year with no television, phone, or distractions; this was a common practice by beloved Maya Angelou.
  • Dedicate at least 10 minutes a day to meditation, prayer, or mantras.
  • Spend time in nature for 10 minutes a day or at minimum once a week (e.g. walking and observing your surroundings and the environment).

Be clear on your goals:

  • Write down one to two health goals for the year and look at them each day. Place these goals in a prominent place to be reminded daily (e.g. next to your nightstand, bathroom mirror, etc.). Reminders and reinforcements are key to resolutions.
  • Profess your goal out loud. Sharing with others helps to create accountability.

Be reasonable and love yourself:

  • It’s important to make baby steps towards your goals and also to be kind to yourself if you make a mistake or are not on track. Slander towards oneself is a self-defeating affirmation that makes it more difficult to reach your goal. Reflect, review, reaffirm, make a plan, and move on!
  • Remember that life is a marathon not a race; thus the small incremental health steps you make daily are much more impactful than short-term gains.”
Jaquel Patterson, ND, MBA

President, American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP)

Resolution #7: Lowell Greib, MSc, ND, CISSN

“Resolve not to make resolutions! Rather, make the effort to improve your ability to set health related goals and achieve them. In practicing sports medicine, it has become apparent that those with effective goal setting skills, generally speaking, have improved long term athletic success and in doing so have inadvertently learned the art of resiliency.

How are these athletes any different from you and I? There are two factors at play. They are highly motivated to achieve performance and also excellent at defining performance indicators (through goal setting) that allow for successful outcomes. However, not only do their goals fit the principles of ‘SMART’ goals (i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely), but athletes tend to add to their goal setting technique.

Many successful athletes have a training log. This tactic forces a goal to be recorded. In doing so, the athlete has established a contract with themselves, resulting in accountability, which helps drive improvement in performance.

Another key benefit of logging information is that it allows for the ongoing evaluation of a goal. An athlete’s training journal provides a way to review historical change and more clearly identify key challenges that may be barriers to success. These challenges can then be addressed quickly, leading to more timely success in goal achievement.

The final aspect that athletes take into consideration is a factor of reality when participating in sport—injury. Physical performance can be considerably influenced through the process of injury and subsequent therapy. As such, the willingness to have reversibility of goals allows for the unexpected in life to occur, while concurrently building the resiliency that is required to reset a training plan and, subsequently, build a new set of ‘SMART’ goals.

By engaging yourself in three additional goal setting tactics (recording, ongoing evaluation, and reversibility) you are positioning yourself for ongoing success, not only at the start of a new calendar year, but consistently over the course of life.”

Lowell Greib, MSc, ND, CISSN

President, Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND)

Resolution #8: Tabatha Parker, ND

“In this day and age, the speed and reality of our day-to-day lives just seems to get faster each day—email, social media, or the logistics of family schedules—all pulling us away from the most important things in life: quality time with family and self-care.

This year, I resolve the following: to make the health and well-being of my family the priority.  To commit to regular meditation and nature time, self-care, and humor with my family every day. I resolve to make the health and well-being of my family and myself the top priority—before the Facebook feed, the online games or apps, the endless email, or the to-do lists that just get longer. Set it all aside and laugh and give health to yourself and to your family. Breathe life into that dream and vision for yourself in 2018. Take the plunge with me!”

Tabatha Parker, ND

Board President, Natural Doctors International (NDI)