As we round the final bend of 2016 I want to take a few seconds to reflect on this year and how important our mindset is to our health. The very witty ornament pictured above pretty well sums up how the world felt this year. Deaths of icons, a stressful election season, and injustices of all sorts hitting the headlines daily — it was a pretty crappy year when you take the 1,000-foot view. In all honesty, it was starting to take its toll on me.
I spent a lot of time feeling angry, sad, and completely helpless, and this started to manifest in my health. I was starting to lose energy and have those tell-tell signs of inflammation in my joints. Those of you battling illness know that this usually signals a downhill spiral. I know because I’ve spiraled away many times before. But not this time.
This time I took stock. Yes, the world can be a broken and horrible place, but how has my year been? My kids are healthy and growing. My marriage is strong and supportive. I’ve got the love of my extended family and have even seen some of them this year. I’ve got friends, I’ve got a roof over my head, and I’ve got the desire and ability to do good in this world. In short, I’ve got a lot.
Next, I reduced my triggers. I found that when I got into the car and turned on the news my mood would sink, so I started listening to music. Likewise, Facebook and Twitter were sadness destinations, so I took a break.
Finally, I ramped up the self-care: More walking, more baths, more fun reads and silly podcasts, a fancy new coloring book with my own fancy colored pencils, and more time with people that lift me up.
This does not mean I am shirking my responsibility to be a well-informed citizen or viewer of funny cat videos. It means that I have made the choice to do those things that will allow me to act intentionally as opposed to reacting to all the ills the world has to hold. This is me shifting my mindset so that I can continue the work of healing my body.