Happy New Year! After holiday events where we often eat too much, exercise too little, and perhaps skimp on sleep, January is a time to get back in balance. But trying to do everything at once can be daunting, and decrease your chances of success. That’s why this article brings you one suggestion for each month of the year, including ideas for physical, mental and emotional ways to boost your well-being in 2015! January: Put your family on your calendar. Nutrition, exercise, remedies and prescriptions can all play a part in keeping you healthy and pain-free. But there’s an area you may not have considered as crucial to your health: your family and friends. Rick Nauert, PHD Senior News Editor of PsychCentral.com says, “Family and peers have a big impact on your health. His research shows that people who are connected socially often share similar levels of health, and that your family and social [caption id="attachment_525" align="alignright" width="300"] Put family birthdays, anniversaries and special events on your calendar.[/caption] networks can play as strong a role on your health as your healthcare provider. So this January, why not put family birthdays, anniversaries and special events on your calendar, and treat these dates with as much importance as a business meeting or a doctor’s appointment? February: Reconnect with a long-lost loved one. In February, you probably think of Valentine’s day, and it’s perfect time to show your love to those close to you. Why not take it a step beyond the people you live with, and reconnect with a favorite aunt or uncle, or perhaps a family friend you grew up with, but now don’t see very often? An article in Harvard Women’s Health Watch cites: “Good connections can improve health and increase longevity. People who have satisfying relationships have been shown to be happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.” It’s amazing how you can brighten someone’s day, and yours, with a phone call. Just pick up the phone. It’s easier than you think. March: Discover the magic bullet to healthier kids [caption id="attachment_526" align="alignright" width="300"] When sharing a meal, family bonds become stronger.[/caption] What if you learned there is a magic bullet that can improve the quality of your daily life, your children's chances of success in the world, and your family's health? If it was inexpensive and anyone could do it, would you try it? You guessed it! “The magic bullet is the family meal,” says researcher Larry Forthun, at the University of Florida. “Eating together as a family on a regular basis has some surprising effects. When sharing a meal, family bonds become stronger, children are better adjusted, family members eat more nutritious foods, and are less likely to be overweight. Given the positive benefits, why are more families not eating together? April: Clean your pantry and stock up on healthy foods With spring in the air, you probably feel your energy surging, and yearn to make a fresh start. It’s a perfect time to spring clean your pantry, and replace sugary foods that irritate your joints with ones that nourish you. If you’ve been eating lots of hearty tomato and potato-based foods in winter, you may want to find out if these nightshade vegetables are contributing to your joint pain. You may also want to toss any inflammatory oils from your pantry, and replace them with good fats. May: Plan a family holiday or multi-generation get-together With summer on the way, this is an ideal time to plan a summer holiday with family, or organize a multi-generational get-together. Is a road trip in the picture? What about planning to meet at a beach or resort, a festival or special event, or even taking a cruise together? How about organizing a trip to the zoo or a waterpark? If any family members have summer birthdays, why not celebrate with a picnic in the park or a barbecue? June: Hug a tree and enjoy nature! [caption id="attachment_527" align="alignright" width="300"] Connect physically with the natural world to energize your body.[/caption] Are you suffering from a nature deficiency? In Get Out There: Nature’s Healing Power, Dr. Frank Lipman, called “The Voice of Sustainable Wellness”, says, “This modern hermetically-sealed lifestyle is turning many of us into indoor zombies, with dulled senses, suppressed immune systems, depressed spirits and sharply increased risk for illness and disease.” He suggests: “Hug a tree. Lie in the grass. Dig your toes deep into the sand by the sea. Connect physically with the earth and natural world to energize your body. By making regular contact with the ground, you’ll restore and help maintain the body’s natural electrical balance, thereby promoting your optimal health.” July: Shore up on the sunshine vitamin - D! Have you been shunning the sun? Sunning sensibly can be the best thing you can do for your body. Vitamin D interacts with 2000 genes in the body and a Vitamin D deficiency plays a role in almost every major disease. New evidence shows that Vitamin D helps build muscle and strong bones, and helps prevent or alleviate symptoms of osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Many of us don’t get enough because we spend so much time indoors, or live in climates where we can’t get enough sunshine year-round. July is a great time to soak up some healthy vitamin D. It only takes 15 minutes a few times a week! August: Volunteer for a cause you believe in. Whether you wash cars to raise money for your favorite charity, help build homes locally, or travel to build a school in a developing country, everyone can do something to give back to your community and the world. In a report issued by the National & Community Services called The Health Benefits of Volunteering, they say “a growing body of research indicates that volunteering provides not just social benefits, but individual health benefits as well. This research has established a strong relationship between volunteering and health: those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. September: Grow a healthy brain for a healthy long life! September is traditionally “back to school” month. But you don’t have to be a child or teenager to keep your brain active. Now research shows that learning keeps your brain working optimally, and is vital in keeping you youthful and healthy. "We need to learn to maintain a healthy mind, just like we maintain vascular health with diet and exercise," says Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas Park, in Learning new skills keeps an aging mind sharp. "It is important to learn a new skill, such as digital photography, which requires active engagement and taps working memory, long-term memory and other high-level cognitive processes. It could mean added years of high quality life and independence." October: Let go of resentments and grudges As we let go of summer’s warmth and sunshine, we should also think about letting go of the resentments and grudges that get us down. A Mayo Clinic article, Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness talks about the benefits of forgiveness: “Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another. Perhaps your mother criticized your parenting skills, your colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness or even vengeance. But if you don't practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy.” November: Honor tradition in a “joint-healthy” way [caption id="attachment_528" align="alignright" width="300"] You don’t have to give up flavor and pleasure to enjoy Thanksgiving without joint pain.[/caption] The holiday season means different things to different people, but for most of us, Thanksgiving is synonymous with festive meals, family and friends, and of course the traditional foods we eat, from turkey to pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for your blessings, but it’s more difficult if the foods you eat increase your joint pain. You don’t have to give up flavor and pleasure to enjoy Thanksgiving. With a few ingredient changes and food swaps you can enjoy Thanksgiving treats pain-free! December: Show gratitude and spread cheer Whether 2015 brings you everything on Santa’s list, or deals you a few lumps of coal, we can always find things to show gratitude for. Too many dirty dishes? Be grateful you have food to feed your family. Too busy at work? Show gratitude for your steady job. Kids giving you a hard time? Hug them and show gratitude for your good fortune in having them. Expressing gratitude doesn’t require money or take much effort, but it can change your whole outlook on life for the better!