The New Year is a time for reflection, and for self care. It’s important to take some time to think about what you need, and how to incorporate your needs into your daily routine. It’s especially important after a busy season of shopping, and giving, and attending to the needs of others.
With this in mind I have been reflecting on how to do this in tiny, manageable ways so that self-care can become an attainable goal that you can practice on a daily basis. Here is my list for 2019.
Slow down when you eat. Chew slowly and taste your food. Give yourself time to enjoy and don’t allow the pace of the eaters around you to influence your pace. Being a slow eater myself, I find people who eat quickly cause me to eat quickly as well which makes me somewhat anxious and I enjoy my food less. I have to remind myself to take my time.
Take a few moments throughout the day to enjoy a few deep breaths. Often the stress of the day can cause us to breathe shallowly, and reminding yourself to breathe can often calm the mind, the nerves, and the stomach.
Stretch, especially when first waking and before getting out of bed. Starting off the day slowly while listening to your body’s needs sets the pace for the day. Throughout the day take small stretch breaks to keep the blood flowing, and the muscles relaxed, especially if you spend most of your day sitting at a desk.
Stop and think before saying YES automatically. Our desire to please others often leads us to agree to take on more than we can manage. It’s ok to say no, especially when your plate is already full. This might even give you more time to spend with the people who nurture your soul.
Try something new and different, a gym or yoga class, dance classes, axe throwing, kick boxing, choir, walking group, tai chi or judo.
Laugh often. Find what makes you giggle uncontrollably and do it as often as you can. Watch comedies or hang out with people whose humour you enjoy. The health benefits are too numerous to even mention.
Allow yourself time to get where you are going, and build in a few minutes of buffer time so you can be present in the activity. When we are always running late, we invite more stress and anxiety into our lives.
Start a gratitude journal or ritual. Make a habit to reflect daily on the things you are most grateful for. This is especially important to do when we are feeling down.
Declutter something – a closet, drawer or cupboard. Organizing something makes us feel good every time we go back to that place.
Treat yourself to something that will make you feel happy. For me, it’s flowers. They make me smile and a small bouquet of fresh flowers will bring me joy for days. In the summer, plant flowers, and notice them often.
Call and speak to people you love or miss. Although we are more connected than ever, we often don’t take the time to settle into a good phone conversation and catch up with an old friend or family member.
If you are feeling sad, allow yourself a good cry. We all need to get it out of our system once in a while, and it feels so much better afterwards. If you need to ‘encourage’ it then put on music or a movie that you know will trigger that nerve and just ‘let it go’!
Remove yourself from a situation when you know you are prone to over-react. We all get a little agitated once in a while and rather than allow things to bubble over, go for a brisk walk and swing your arms or go to the gym or a yoga class and work it out. When you come back to the situation you will be in a much better position to deal with it.
Let things go. We all carry around our ‘hurts’ and at some point it’s important to let it go. Forgive, forget, and move on. If you need help, then create a ritual for letting go. Make space in your heart and soul for letting the good things in by cleaning out the garbage that you have been carrying around for way too long!
Dance, often, and with abandon. Don’t think twice about who is watching or how you look. Trust me, it feels so good.
With all that in mind, we cannot forget that it’s also important to feed ourselves well. We all deserve to eat good food that is ethically sourced, and lovingly prepared. If we put garbage in our bodies, we are not going to feel good or be able to be our best, strongest, healthiest selves.
Our ‘Nourish Yourself’ menu this January celebrates this idea. We are putting out four weeks of menus that are created to start the New Year off on the right foot. Our focus on lean proteins, fermented foods, bone broths and a fully vegan meal every Wednesday, will make it an exciting and nutritious month!
Our recipe this month is a simple vegetarian chili with lots of delicious serving suggestions. Vegan Chili is so easy to make because you can literally use any vegetables that you might have on hand or are in season. You can keep it warm in a crock pot which makes it the perfect dish to serve to a crowd after skiing, skating on the canal, or a long winter walk.
Red Apron’s Vegan Chili
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup onions, chopped
¾ cups carrots, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of diced red peppers
1 cup of diced zucchini
1 cup diced cauliflower
1 large can (28 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
1 small can of tomato puree
1 chipotle pepper minced (from can) or to taste
1 ½ cups of cooked kidney beans *
1 ½ cups of cooked black beans *
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 ½ teaspoons of dried oregano
Note: other optional vegetables include mushrooms, spinach, diced butternut or sweet potatoes, corn kernels
*Note: we use organic dried beans and soak overnight and cook till tender. They can be kept in the freezer portioned out in small bags to use. However, in a pinch you can use a good quality low salt canned bean, preferably organic.
Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Saute the onions, carrots and garlic until tender. Add the remaining vegetables, and seasonings. Cook until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the tomatoes and beans. Test for flavor. If you like it spicy you can add cayenne pepper at this point. Salt to taste. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
Set up a ‘serve yourself’ chili bar with a variety of toppings and garnishes. My list includes:
Baked sweet potato or white potato – spoon the chili over the potato and garnish for an extra hearty meal!
Chopped green onions
Sour cream or vegan coconut yogurt
Shredded cheddar cheese or vegan cheese
Crumbled corn tortilla chips
Guacamole or diced avocado
Diced spicy sausage to satisfy the meat lovers in your party