Try these practices to take more control over your health & well-being
The pandemic has spurred renewed interest in self-care and holistic health as people look for ways to stay healthy, such as cooking and eating healthier meals at home, exercising more regularly, and spending more time with their loved ones. Amid quarantines, lockdowns and concerns about staying well, many people have become more engaged with their health, including through holistic health practices.
Holistic health focuses on the connection between mind, body, and spirit. It isn’t just about treating symptoms, but seeks to address root causes of health issues through changes people can make in their own lives.
Whether you are returning to a workplace or working at home, this is a good time to add more holistic health practices into your daily routine. Here are some activities to consider:
1. Start your day with a meditation practice. This is a great way to clear your mind and connect with yourself before heading out into the world. You might also take time to connect with your higher power during your meditation. There are many benefits to meditation, including reducing stress, feelings of anxiousness, and depression, while enhancing self-awareness, memory, and attention. Follow these steps to start a meditation practice:
- Set up a comfortable space. You may want to sit on a pillow or cushion. You can try sitting with your back gently resting against a wall, or even lying down if that’s more comfortable for you. Ideally, you’ll be somewhere quiet so that you can focus on your thoughts and breathing.
- Set a timer. Decide on the amount of time you want to spend on your meditation practice. It’s often recommended that you start with a fairly short meditation and build up from there. Try starting with five minutes, or even less if that feels challenging. Once five minutes is easy, you might try increasing your time to 10 minutes and so on.
- Try a meditation method. There are many different ways to meditate. You may want to try a guided meditation where a video or audio recording of an instructor guides you through one of thee following techniques, or others. This is especially helpful if you’ve never meditated before. Some meditations to try include:
- Mantra meditation: Choose a simple phrase, and repeat it over and over again. Choose something positive and empowering for a pleasant experience.
- Body scan: In this meditation, you slowly focus your complete attention on different parts of your body.
- Visualization meditation: Focus your mind on a visual experience. You might conjure up a mental picture of a calm lake, a quiet field, or another relaxing image
- Loving-kindness meditation: In this meditation, you focus on sending love and kindness to yourself, others, and out into the world.
If thoughts come up as you’re meditating, don’t worry. Just allow them to cross your mind and float away. Even if meditating feels uncomfortable, or your mind is really busy at first, if you continue to consistently meditate you’ll begin to experience the benefits, such as greater feelings of calm, peace and self-awareness.
2. Practice well-being during the workday. If you find yourself feeling stressed or upset during the workday, you’re not alone: 83% of American workers report suffering from work-related stress. Holistic health practices can help relieve workday stress. Deep breathing has been found to reduce stress, as it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. Next time you start to feel stressed at work, try this breath practice:
- Find a comfortable seat. This could be at your desk, or perhaps you can head outside for a few moments.
- Relax your belly. Diaphragmatic or belly breathing is when you send your breath deep into your body. Relaxing your belly helps the breath to flow correctly.
- Breathe in and out through your nose. Breathing through your nose allows you to take bigger, slower breaths, enhancing the calming effects of your breathing practice.
- Try placing a hand on your belly. Feel the breath fill up that space, lifting your hand as you inhale, and lowering as you empty out your breath. This can help you focus on where your breath should go.
- Try to breathe deeply for 10 minutes. Even if you only take a few deep breaths, you’ll still feel the positive effects! However, if you have the time, 10 to 20 minutes can be especially beneficial.
3. Eat for wellness. Nutritious, whole foods are an integral part of a holistically healthy lifestyle. Getting proper nutrition can help you feel better, avoid illness, boost your mood, and increase focus. Nutritional research consistently shows that eating fewer processed foods provides lots of health benefits. Focus on eating fruits, veggies, and whole foods. Eat small portions. Make sure you stay hydrated with pure water between meals.
4. Journal before bed. A great way to close out your day while supporting your mental health holistically is to journal before bed. Journaling can help support your mental health by helping you identify problems, fears, and concerns, as well as the things that are going well in your life. It can be an opportunity for positive self-talk and a chance to identify what you’re grateful for. Here are a few prompts to help start your journaling practice:
- Write a list of things that you’re grateful for.
- Write a list of things you love about yourself.
- What does a great day look like for you?
- List a few activities that bring you joy (and perhaps make a plan to do one of them tomorrow!).
- Write a letter to your future self or to your past self.
- What can you learn from a recent mistake?
- Write a note about how much you appreciate someone important in your life.
6. Get enough sleep. Rest is an important part of overall wellness. Lack of sleep has been found to significantly impair cognitive brain function, ability to focus, ability to respond to situations, and capacity to cope with stress. When you get enough rest, your body and mind are able to recharge. Your muscles heal overnight, your immune system recovers to help keep you healthy, and your mind gets refreshed so you can be alert and focused.
When you need a little extra support
If you’re experiencing issues that you need help with, consider setting up an appointment to see someone who works in the holistic wellness field. A chiropractor works with the structure of the body to restore balance and function between the organs, glands and the nervous system of the body, often relieving pain. They also help with joint issues. An acupuncturist restores health and well-being by way of the body’s acupuncture meridians. A massage therapist works with the muscles of the body to relieve discomfort, bringing greater well-being and relaxation. An Emotion Code or Body Code Practitioner identifies and clears emotional and energetic imbalances that may lead to all types of pain and disease in the body. Reach out to a certified holistic health practitioner to receive the support you need.
These holistic practices are meant to enhance but not intended replace standard healthcare practices, such as regular visits to a physician.
Being mindful and proactive in caring for your health needs is a key part of a holistic approach to wellness. Hopefully these suggestions will empower you to take steps to improve your well-being every day.