In these difficult times, it is more important than ever that we take care of our mental and physical health. There’s a wealth of information online, ranging from things you can do with your body to things you can do with your mind. Perhaps in the past you have taken care of one and not the other, or been dipping in and out of both for a few years, but there is a science to this, and it is important you understand how working your body and mind together in a holistic way can benefit you significantly.
Holism means ‘a whole that is greater than its parts’. When we talk about holistic health, we’re talking about a number of smaller actions that contribute to something bigger when they are practised together. Charlotte Eliopoulos, who wrote the book ‘Invitation to Holistic Health’, describes holistic health as an aligning of the mind, body and spirit in harmony, creating a richer state of health than would be achieved if the attention was solely focused on one part.
So holistic health creates a healthy balance within us. Really, what more could any of us want?
In order to help you, we’ve pulled together five healthy habits you can try to improve your health in a holistic manner.
We all have a lot going on daily, and that means we can sometimes carry what’s called a ‘toxic load’. Imagine your body is like a bucket of water. It is able to work to maintain its own equilibrium by emptying through a small hole in the bottom of the bucket, but when it is full and flows over the top, this causes symptoms that could progress into disease.
This is especially true at the moment, when many of us are experiencing added stress and pressures. These are no doubt filling our buckets and making us stressed.
Detoxing is a great way to get rid of toxins. You might detox from anything, from processed foods, to social media, to toxic people, in order to restore your body to a comfortable equilibrium. You’ll know when you’ve managed it, because you’ll be less stressed.
If you want to detox by restricting food, there’s a great article here about how you can do that, though we would recommend you do your research, and consult your doctor.
In order to be at one with yourself, you need to listen to – and understand – your body. This doesn’t mean grabbing a book on human anatomy, more that you should be mindful of the way your body feels.
There are many ancient beliefs that imply that pain in the body is indicative of your mental state. Aches and pains in your joints are often linked to stress and anxiety, for example.
Listening to your body means accepting you need rest when you are tired, recognising when your eating habits are making you feel lethargic and depressed, or recognising the impact alcohol – for example – might have on your mood. It’s important you sit every now and again and ask yourself how your body is feeling, and decipher why.
Sleep is vitally important for mental and physical health. Those who don’t sleep well have a higher risk of being ill, are more frequently mentally ill, more likely to be obese, and even have a higher rate of cardiac arrest. When you sleep, your body repairs itself, and your mind is given a break. Both are vitally important to your overall health.
You need around eight hours of sleep a night to function at your full capacity.
If you struggle to sleep, try to incorporate a proper bedtime routine into your life, so that your brain recognises your routine, and prepares itself for sleep. Turn off technology an hour or two before you want to go to bed, adjust the lighting in your home to remove blue lights, and consider replacing your mattress, which could be uncomfortable. In fact, a bedroom revamp might be useful. Your bedroom should be as close to a haven as you can get it.
This is a little extension from point three. Pay careful attention to your environment. You can’t be truly holistically healthy unless your environment is a reflection of who you are, so keep things tidy, make things personal, and try not to enter environments that make you uncomfortable. There are times this can’t be helped, perhaps you need to go into the office, for example, but you should make sure you’re spending lots of time visiting places you love, like the beach, or the countryside, or even that little cafe you love.
We know this is difficult at the moment, but at least try to make your home as comfortable and attractive to you as it can be, so that you enjoy spending time there.
We could mention exercise here, as it is just as important, but we know there are lots of people who cannot motivate themselves at the moment to be physical, so instead we think you should start with your diet.
Diets that are higher in processed foods have a negative impact on your appearance and can as a consequence lower your mood and make you depressed. Can we suggest you ‘eat the rainbow’, instead?
Your diet should be full of fruits and vegetables, so that you’re consuming healthy nutrients and phytochemicals, which fight diseases. Incorporating whole grains, seeds, legumes and nuts is important, and your diet should be mainly – if not fully – plant based. Plant based diets (sometimes referred to as vegan diets) can assist by lowering your blood pressure, lowering your cholesterol, improving your blood sugar level, lowering your chances of getting cancer, and managing your weight.
Before you make any drastic changes to your diet, please consult a health professional.
We hope you can take these tips and incorporate them into your life in some capacity. You can start right now, by swapping out your old, uncomfortable mattresses for a new one. You’ll be sleeping better before you know it, which is a great start to overhauling your holistic health.