Small Moves and Big Government: Well-Being Matters in 2018

By Marilynn Preston

January 2, 2018 5 min read

New Year clearances are happening all over town, including my own desk, piled high with articles, notebooks and coffee-stained press releases leftover from 2017. It's an activity, like skinny-dipping, that I highly recommend.

One thing I am keeping is an intriguing new book called "The Psychobiotic Revolution," by Scott C. Anderson, John F. Cryan and Ted Dinan. It explains the cutting-edge science that proves your gut and your brain are interconnected, and why many foods we innocently eat mess up our physical and mental health, causing depression, anxiety — Alzheimer's, too.

(Maintain your microbiome! The research is in. Does your doctor even know how to spell microbiome?)

I'm letting go of "Green Smoothies for Life." It's a highly recommended new release, but I've decided life is too short to gulp down your breakfast, even if it is a healthy and balanced mix of 10 fruits, 10 vegetables and enough protein powder to get you through dinner without actually chewing. (Did you know you can put banana peels in a smoothie?)

Time-saving smoothies also conflict with one of my primo resolutions for this new year: to slow down — a daunting campaign now entering its 18th year.

This new year's process of sorting through and tossing out has me thinking about two aha! insights of 2017, or as my family calls it, the Year of the Book. ("All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" came out in late April and managed to become an Amazon best-seller in August, thanks to an algorithm I'm grateful for but can't possibly explain.)

INSIGHT NO. 1: TINY MOVES BRING BIG RESULTS. When most people think about doing more exercise in 2018, they mean big-motion activities: more walking, running, swimming, basketball, biking — whatever sparks joy.

All are stellar choices. Have fun; play sports! But here's my wish for your new year: don't ignore your inner body. Sensing how to communicate with it is a giant step forward when it comes to taking care of your personal well-being.

This isn't woo-woo, it's science: You can learn to make tiny, subtle moves within your own body. These small inner shifts of muscle, tissue and breath —done slowly, with awareness — help energize your spine, balance your sacrum, and lubricate your joints so when you do play sports or pick up heavy suitcases or groceries, you're less likely to screw up your back, or wrench your shoulder. And if you do — accidents happen — you'll have some self-care tools to speed your recovery.

Collectively it's known as somatics training: teachers and practices that help you develop inner body awareness. Somatics-based yoga, Feldenkrais, the Alexander Technique, qigong, tai chi are all proven ways to direct your attention inward, to connect and balance your mind, body and breath. Do all that on a regular basis in 2018 — with patience and kindness — and you can audition for Jedi knight.

INSIGHT NO. 2: TIME TO DO WHAT EVERY OTHER CIVILIZED NATION DOES. I live several months a year on a small island in the Aegean and have the good fortune of having friends who are citizens of Greece, France, Sweden, Holland, Italy, Germany, Belgium, England and other countries.

Why am I telling you this? Because none of them worry about health care costs. In the U.S., everyone worries. It's a leading cause of anxiety, stress, even bankruptcy! My European friends don't understand. When they get sick, they see a doctor. So do their kids and their aging parents. That drama is gone. Also the paperwork. The health care in their countries — in virtually every developed country in the world — is not the for-profit business it is in the U.S. It's basically free for everyone to use, just as they use roads, schools and the police and fire departments.

Is their health care as good? It depends. It's often better. The U.S. health care system is the world's most expensive, and it consistently ranks as mediocre.

The Year of the Book taught me that everyone, pretty much, strives to be healthier and happier. In 2018, the first political party to offer (basically) free medical care for all — just like virtually every developed country in the world — will win the hearts and minds of the majority of voters.


"Did you know that 90 percent of the body's serotonin, a compound that contributes to happiness and well-being, lives in your gut?" — from "The Psychobiotic Revolution"

Marilynn Preston is the author of Energy Express, America's longest-running healthy lifestyle column. Her new book "All Is Well: The Art {and Science} of Personal Well-Being" is available now on Amazon and elsewhere. Visit Creators Publishing at to learn more. For more on personal well-being, visit

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