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How To Close Off '23 Without Losing Your Mind: A Functional Medicine Guide

By Julienne Clohessy, Functional Medicine Coach

In an attempt to help get you through to the end of the year, with your sanity intact, we have compiled a list of functional tools. We know you're tired - the last thing you need is another list of things to do. This list is designed to specifically bring you peace of mind in the chaos. There are some points that are more time consuming than others so it's up to you to pick and choose should you please. Self-reflection is always a healthy space to retreat to when you're feeling like it's all too much. If nothing else, take a lovely deep breath before you continue about your day🌞.

Do a Personal Life Audit What’s working? What isn’t? How much energy is being spent on these areas of your life (home/relationships/work etc). If you have any previous short term goals, personal and/or career, now is a good time to go back and re-evaluate if everything is going as you hypothesised. Pivoting is a fine art and an essential life skill - you may as well practice while you can.

Remember, there is nothing lost in failure there are only lessons learned.

While you’re at it, filter out the negativity in your life and spring clean your relationships. Start with social media – ask yourself, “is this account adding value to my life, in one way or another?”. If it’s a no, maybe or even a hesitated yes, UNFOLLOW. Don’t think twice. If it’s important enough, it will find its way back to you – it’s time to make room for the really important people in your life.

Make Amends Since we’re on the topic of relationships, the most important relationship is with yourself. While inner peace cannot possibly be derived from the external environment, a good place to begin is amending your wrong doings. The beauty of this practice is the ‘giving’ aspect – there should be nothing expected in exchange for these amendments – in an endless aim for personal growth and eventually truly intrinsic affirmation. If you’re thinking, “what wrong doings?!”, this is your sign to see a therapist. Start with the “easiest” ones for the sake of practice – You’ll see that the reward is worth every single awkward word out of your mouth and it will become less of a mountain to climb.

Start a Probiotic in Preparation for a Parasite Cleanse We’re all about optimum Gut Health in 2024 and we’re certainly not starting off with excuses or “I-should-have’s”. We want to start the year off with the best ‘base-line’ possible – assuming that we’ll probably spend a lot of time over the (Southern Hemisphere) holiday period frolicking in foreign bodies of water and eating delicious festive leftovers we know, in Functional Medicine, that a family parasite cleanse will most likely be necessary after the fact. Parasites can wreak havoc on the body if left untreated - unnecessary fatigue, abdominal pains, general sluggishness and brain fog are all symptoms of a parasite in the digestive system and we simply DO NOT have time for that. By supplementing with a diverse flora of pre- and/or pro-biotics you can prepare your family’s digestive systems for the planned Parasite cleanse. One should not do a parasite cleanse unless they are sure to have a healthy gut flora, hence the inoculation of a diversity of flora prior to cleanse (repeat cleanse every six month and don’t forget your pets!!!).

Good Habits, Great Lives Start one teeny-weeny good lifestyle habit today, with the goal of it being habitual by January, or whenever you choose your “start” date to be. Once-again, we will rely heavily on the snow-ball effect of creating and maintaining this habit. It’s more about training our brains to think slightly differently at this point – an essential exercise when it comes to improving your life. Our brains are resistant in nature to things/people/spaces/routines that are new to us, purely for the fear of the unknown outcome. This is why we start small, to show ourselves that it IS possible and maybe even easy.

Remember to not always believe everything you think.

So, in an attempt to expand and reshape your network of neurons start with one of the below commitments to yourself:

  • Right now, I’ll activate the Do Not Disturb function on my phone from Sunset > Sunrise and commit to not looking at my phone last thing at night/first thing in the morning. Instead I will drink a glass of water, make my bed and open my windows and get on with my day.

  • I will commit to drinking a glass of water everytime I have been to the bathroom to empty my bladder.

  • I will commit to walking/meditating/journalling for 20 minutes of my day, three times per week instead of doom-scrolling.

  • I will list three things I am grateful for every evening before I pour my glass of wine.

Remember to make the goal easy and achievable to YOU. This is an exercise of achievement! Make sure to meet the brief.

Work Loads > Loads of Work We get it. There’s only so much you can do about it. But, in 2024, we expect more than this. In a world where countries are allocating 4-day work weeks, we need to ask ourselves, how do I maximise the time I have available to me (albeit not a lot)? The answer: smarter, not harder. In theory, everyone should come out on top of this situation, especially when it comes to the employee/employer relationship. Working smarter means more is done in terms of quality, more time becomes available and the lessons learned are more valuable. Before we get into how… What would be the point of this if your employer took the opportunity to refill your now squeaky-clean plate? An open, two-way line of communication and healthy boundaries are what you’ll need here. If you are not blessed with these – this exercise will be a LOT harder for you, but it is still a good one to do. You decide when the time is right just know you deserve better!

Ok so the how… The two fundamental elements for smarter-not-harder are planning and perspective. There is literally no amount of preparation that is too much. There are never too many questions and most importantly there can never be enough resources. A not-so-obvious tool here is meditation – the ability to sit quietly and walk through the process in your mind is a tool that will save you eons of time in your life.

  1. Sit quietly for as long as necessary and imagine the [sales/cooking/project] process, from start to the finish.

  2. Write out that timeline.

  3. What questions will come up at each point of that timeline? Write them down.

  4. Find the best resources for these questions: Google, ChatGTP, your mentor (you should really have a mentor), a professor etc. Gather as much information as you can, laterally, about the topic. Opposing opinions are excellent as they provide you with a scale of measure – remember you may not be right.

  5. By this stage, you’re sitting on a lot of variable information and probably need a refining process. This is a great time to check in with a partner/mentor/boss to establish if you’re on the most suitable path (props for those open, two-way lines of communication by the way). You may not want to waste their time so make sure you have attempted to refine the points and you are presenting YOUR best version of the idea – after all, that’s why they hired you!

  6. You’re either adjusting your plan or actioning it at this point, with the added benefit of support.

  7. On-going optimisation will be what sets your plan apart from the rest – the job is never ‘complete’, right? By constantly referring to the bank of knowledge you previously collected and by further gathering of data, you are set up with all the knowledge you need to pivot if or when you need to. Staying on your toes is a valuable counter-part to working smart.

Rest and Restore This is probably the most important point of the article. Please, and I'm begging you now, dedicate time to REST sans 'noise'. Everyone has a different situation and their various difficulties. Some of those are made even more difficult over the festive period, which makes this even more imperative. Block out the time -- Take yourself seriously enough to warrant the date with yourself in your calendar. Don't let anything get in between you and that commitment. It doesn't have to be for long necessarily, you'll have to work within your limits, but by treating yourself with the self-respect of alone time you reinforce to yourself how worthy you are of all the beauty in your life. Take it seriously.

Bonus Point: If You’re a Freak Ok, we are officially not built of the same stuff and I’m ok admitting that 😅 Loving it on you, though! The final tip in closing off the old year, while setting up for the new one, is a good old deep clean.

Clear and organised spaces = clear and organised minds.

When was the last time you went through your Downloads folder? I shudder to think! This is a lovely exercise to round off the work year: erase duplicates, archive old files and rename those juicy project folders for ease of reference in the new year. Now, home and closet. Same rules apply! Remember that decluttering is a healing process when you’re debating with yourself as to whether you do or don’t throw out those old egg cartons (been there - lol).

Go get your life! 2023 may have been for me but 2024 is for more :)



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