First of all, on behalf of the Tummy Team, let me wish you all a very Happy New Year!
I think we can all agree that 2022 was not without its ups-and-downs, and there are likely to be more ahead of us. We are thankful for your ongoing support in these challenging times and look forward to being here for you again in 2023. Here’s to a happy and healthy year for all of us!
With a new year ahead of us, I have been reflecting on how I would like to navigate the next twelve months. As a general rule, I’m pretty good at offering advice, not just advice on how to maintain a healthy digestive system, but general natural and naturopathic health advice, based on my 30 years’ experience as a naturopath. You would think, therefore, that I live a pretty healthy life, and follow my own advice, right? Well, yes and no. I eat well, I take all my supplements, I exercise about three times a week, but I’m afraid that when it comes to managing my stress levels, I don’t score so well, probably 5 out of 10 at best.
You would think I’d know better, wouldn’t you? But running a busy supplement company, as well as taking care of family and elderly relatives can be challenging. I thought my life was busy when I was running my natural health clinic, but in those days, I was able switch off from work in the evenings and at weekends. That, alas, has not carried over to the present, running a 24/7 online supplement company. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining, I love my work, but I’m just letting you know that I am human too, and I struggle with getting a work/life balance. Do you ever get the feeling of wanting to jump in the car and just keep driving, away from all the stress, all the responsibilities? I do!
I’ve always had a huge interest in all things spiritual. I was raised by a Christian mum and an atheist dad – a confusing combination for a child. We were not allowed to watch Songs of Praise and certainly not allowed to watch Top of The Pops. (I’m sure most of you over the age of 40 remember Top of The Pops on Thursday nights at 7pm on BBC1. It was the world’s longest running weekly music programme. I remember going to school the following day and all the talk was about who had appeared on TOTP!)
While my dad wanted nothing to do with religion, I think some of my mum’s beliefs rubbed off on me, as I’ve always found great comfort in the Bible, especially the Psalms and the Book of Job, whose faith was tested to the limit, but he never lost that faith. Whether you have religious inclinations or not, if you have that spiritual belief that there is something greater than ‘the self’, something more to being human than just inhabiting a physical vessel, and that we are all part of a cosmic or divine nature, then it’s hard to ignore – or at least it is for me. I have to admit, though, that these past ten years or so, I’ve let the spiritual side of me slide a bit and I’ve been existing in a ‘spiritual vacuum’. I want 2023, therefore, to be the year that I explore my spiritual being more. Perhaps it’s because I will turn 63, or that I have a young granddaughter now and I am increasingly aware of the fact that my physical body will, once more, turn into stardust.
We often talk about how we need to look after our physical, mental, and emotional health, but for me, it’s equally important to look after my spiritual health.
How I intend to reconnect with my spiritual side
Focusing on my spiritual health means taking time out. It doesn’t necessarily involve meditation or even going to a place of worship. For me, it means being in the moment, the precious present and communicating with my soul. I can’t do this when I’m permanently focused on business and other people and so it means making more time for me. Scoring out a half hour daily in my diary where I can just sit and try and find Linda again, the old Linda, the spiritual Linda.
I believe that the main goal you should have for yourself when trying to nurture your spiritual life is to do something good for yourself. So, during that precious half hour, what will I be doing to be good to myself? Not binge eating desserts or ordering a new pair of shoes, instead implementing more spirit-focused activities. Doing something nice for someone or journaling about what’s on my mind, or just breathing in the fresh air. These simple things help free the spirit of any negative thoughts and emotions that it’s carrying as baggage.
Keeping a journal
One of the key steps to nurturing your spiritual wellbeing is to ‘switch on’ your awareness. I know that for many people one of the best ways to do this is by journaling. Getting your thoughts down on paper is the first step to outwardly expressing yourself and your emotions, paving the way for a clearer, more agile mind. This will be something I start doing with more intent during 2023.
I came across this simple journaling activity recently and thought I would try it – to maximise your journaling experience and truly connect with your spiritual self, try asking yourself some questions and writing down the answers. For example, you could try writing a letter to your younger self – or simply write down 5 things you value the most/are grateful for.
Passing the goodness on
Simple acts of kindness like holding doors open for the people you see or leaving a slightly bigger tip than usual can help create more goodness around us. People pass on kindness with more kindness, which can bring your spirit to life. Always try and leave a situation a bit better than when you arrived.
Being in the present
One way to be in the present moment is by noticing your surroundings. How often do we take time out of our day to actually look around and see what’s going on? I wonder, when was the last time I sat down, closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and just looked at everything around me?
I will be taking the opportunities whenever they present themselves to do just this during the coming year. When you stop to look at your surroundings and take in everything around you, it’s easier to live in the present moment.
Part of living in the present moment is taking the time to be grateful for what you have now (not in the past or in the future). After all, if you are constantly focused on things you don’t have, you aren’t taking the time to appreciate what you have right now at this moment.
One way to practise gratitude is to write a list of things you are grateful for and review that list on a daily basis. Try to write at least three things you are grateful for in your life right now. Alternatively, you can do a ‘gratitude rampage’, where you write out as many things as you can think of in a certain time period.
Connecting with nature
Embracing the seasons, observing the beauty of the countryside, noticing the small things – the colours of the leaves, the footprints in the snow, how the air smells and feels on your skin, how the rain or sun feels on your face – is something I did a lot when recovering from post-viral fatigue. I am keen to get back to doing this regularly, observing the small things in nature and appreciating them.
If you too are prone to struggling with times of overwhelm, I hope that you can find a quiet space somewhere, look within yourself and find calmness and peace this year. First and foremost, it’s important to love yourself, warts and all. This can be a big ask, I know, so just start with being kind to yourself and the rest will come.
Wishing you all a wonderful 2023!