New Year’s Renewal: Hitting the Refresh Button for 2011

New Year's RenewalOne of the most enjoyable aspects, to me, of our ever evolving world of computing and technology, has always been the unexpected poetry of the language used to describe various functions, situations, and concepts. (defragmentation, cookies, open the drapes, pixel dust, thumbnail). My favorite lately, perhaps because in practical terms, it sometimes solves so many problems with a mere click of a button, is “refresh”. Who doesn’t enjoy the feeling of an instant “fix” when in a jam?

In metaphorical terms, it’s a complete winner: a simple enough concept, albeit one with huge ramifications: it’s the all encompassing “do over” for which all of us are longing.

And when considering its use in thinking about the looming New Year, it has a more gentle, less harsh ring to it. Instead of saddling ourselves with sure to backfire, hardcore “resolutions” about how much better we’re going to be in ’09 with (fill in the blank) our diets, our exercise program, our finances, our relationships, etc. etc. etc. , we can right away avoid the straight out of box “doomed for failure” modality which that whole system involves.

“Hit the refresh button for your life”. See how much softer, kinder, and attainable that sounds? Mind you, like anything and everything in life, attention must be paid in order to achieve any kind of satisfaction. Paying attention here means thoughtful consideration, a modicum of stick-to-it-ive-ness, and a little perseverance. But, as with computing, there is no limit to the amount of times you can hit the refresh button. Keep doing it, and before long, you will have developed the incredibly good habits of enlightened self-care that will change your life. And that is not spam, that’s truth.

What is “enlightened self care”? Anything that furthers the goal of authentic living, which gives you good physical, mental, and spiritual health, wellbeing, and balance. Following are three sections devoted to a holistic approach to finding this balance – all three are necessary for accessing the sweet spot, and getting the richness you deserve with your life.


My approach to the idea of physical “refreshing”: if you do it on a semi-regular basis all the time anyway, then there’s not so much need for drastic detoxing. This list offers several ways to work simple habits into your daily life for more long-term results.

1. Drink at least 2 quarts of filtered, purified water a day. No matter what. There is nothing that you can do for yourself physically that is more simple and more important.

2. Eat plenty of fiber, including brown rice and organically-grown fresh fruits and vegetables. Beets, radishes, artichokes, cabbage, broccoli, spirulina, chlorella, and seaweed are excellent detoxifying foods.

3. Cleanse and protect the liver by taking herbs such as dandelion root, burdock and milk thistle, and drinking green tea. The herbs can be taken in capsule form like you would your daily dose of vitamins.

4. Take vitamin C, which helps the body produce glutathione, a liver compound that drives away toxins.

5. Practice Deep Breathing. Breathing deeply allows oxygen to circulate more completely through your system. Breath is the source of life. During inhalation, fresh energy is brought into the body, energy centers, and pores to nourish the cells, tissues, and organs. With exhalation, accumulated stress, stagnant energy, and toxins are released.

6. Transform stress by emphasizing positive emotions. Chronic stress in increasing degrees can make us more susceptible to physical and emotional illness (like anxiety disorder and depression), burn out, premature aging, and impacts negatively on judgment, performance and decision making. Positive emotions have a harmonizing and thereby health promoting effect on our body.

7. Practice hydrotherapy. Take a very hot shower for five minutes, allowing the water to run on your back. Follow with cold water for 30 seconds. Then wrap up in warm clothes lie down in bed, and pile a bunch of blankets on top of yourself. Stay prone for 30 minutes. Hydrotherapy exploits the body’s reaction to hot and cold stimuli. The nerves carry impulses felt at the skin, deeper into the body, where they are instrumental in stimulating the immune system, influencing the production of stress hormones, invigorating circulation and digestion, encouraging blood flow, and lessening pain sensitivity.

8. Sweat in a sauna so your body can eliminate wastes through perspiration. Almost every city and town has some kind of facility with day pass access to dry or wet saunas – YMCA’s, health clubs, and such. Try going to ethnic enclaves in your city for some of the best of these kinds of inexpensive experiences: Russian, Turkish, and Korean traditions have a beautiful history of working with sauna heat for everyday detoxing.

9. Dry-brush your skin to remove toxins through your pores. Special brushes with natural bristles are available at natural products stores (please don’t use artificial fibers for this effort). This is a very low-tech yet time tested technique used by people all over the world. Dry skin brushing increases circulation to skin, encouraging your body’s discharge of metabolic wastes, which greatly aids the lymphatic drainage of the entire body. When the body rids itself of toxins, it is able to run more efficiently in all areas. Dry skin brushing also rejuvenates the nervous system by stimulating nerve endings in the skin. Dry skin brushing helps your skin to absorb nutrients by eliminating clogged pores. Healthy, breathing skin contributes to overall body health.

Begin brushing your skin in long sweeping strokes starting from the bottom of your feet upwards, and from the hands towards the shoulders, and on the torso in an upward direction. Always brush towards the heart. Try and brush several times in each area, over-lapping as you go. Try following your dry brushing session with the hot and cold hydrotherapy suggested above for an incredible DIY detox session.

10. Finally, what is the most important way to detoxify the body, day in and day out? Exercise, and for at least 30 minutes every day; enough to elevate your heart rate and break a sweat. Choose anything that also gives you enough pleasure to keep doing on a regular basis, because if it’s a chore, then you won’t stick with it. Variety is also key: mix hiking or swimming into a daily yoga practice; salsa dancing twice a week alternating with medicine ball workouts at the gym. Be fearless, try something new.