The term holistic health gets thrown around like candy nowadays…but what does it really mean? Is it daily face masks? A dip in a cold plunge pool? Cutting out carbs and indulging in that green detox juice cleanse?
We are rolling into an age where we crave better physical, emotional and mental health without having to pay an arm and a leg for it.
Holistic health embodies connecting the mind, body and soul to achieve a sense of an overall better well being without having to break the bank and spend countless hours in a hospital or the doctor’s office.
The dictionary definition of holistic is "comprehension of all parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole."
This means to me that when we have any sort of turmoil arise whether in our mind or body, it is crucial to look at the whole picture, not just zoning in on the ailment.
Carmen, the director of Ancestral Apsara--a woman-centered yoga, self empowerment, motherhood and ancestral wisdom organization--says “mindfully looking after our lifestyle in a holistic balanced manner is integral to achieving equilibrium and homeostasis. Holistic wellness allows us to tap into an abundance of treasures from balanced mental health to grounded spiritual connection and inner strength”
Yoga talks about the power of the mind and body connection.
The holistic approach is one where all aspects of someone's life is considered in regards to their wellbeing.
It's a well rounded approach that looks at how much you sleep, what you are eating, your stress levels, your exercise, etc.
When you get your mind and your body working on the same wavelength, there becomes a shift where your energy and overall contentment levels can skyrocket.
Here are 5 ways you can indulge in holistic health without breaking the bank:
Getting in touch with your mind is a huge aspect of holistic health.
It’s important to quiet the monkey mind, manage stress and anxiety and take a few moments every day to give the brain time to relax.
Oftentimes, we live in our sympathetic nervous system.
With constant stress, pressure and a go-go-go busy attitude, we never give our bodies the chance to move into the parasympathetic nervous system where you feel deep relaxation and better digestion.
In the sympathetic nervous system, we are on constant alert, which takes its toll on the body.
That is why it is essential to give yourself proper rest and relaxation.
Schedule it in. Make it a part of your to-do list.
If you are anything like me, resting is actually hard work.
Move into the parasympathetic nervous system and deeper relaxation by trying some of these meditation techniques with me.
Exercise is crucial in holistic health because it is the ultimate connector of the mind and body.
It’s not about spending hours in the gym with the goal of losing weight.
It’s shifting the mindset to moving your body because you are connecting to it.
You get to keep your muscles energized, filled with life, and optimally working for you. It doesn’t have to be intense HIIT or weight sessions every day.
Don’t get me wrong--it totally can be.
The first step is to truly listen to your body.
Although sometimes it feels good to get the workout in even if you are not feeling it, it is also important to recognize when you are overdoing it and if your body needs to do something more nurturing like yoga, stretching, or dancing.
I like to do a little bit of cardio to get my heart rate pumping and then add in yoga as well to stretch and strengthen my muscles and connect deeper to my body.
The benefits of yoga are immense.
If you are looking to start your yoga journey, yet are struggling on where to start, look no further.
Visualizing is a super powerful tool to connect the mind and body.
It can help you overcome obstacles in order to reach your goals.
Don’t believe me? Let’s try the following visualization technique together:
Lift both of your arms out in front of you with your palms facing upward.
Visualize that I put a huge watermelon in your left palm.
Now, visualize that I tied a big helium balloon around your right hand.
Close your eyes for a moment while you keep this clear visualization.
What happened to your arms?
Did your left arm sink while your right arm rose?
What sensations did you feel in your body?
Even though you didn’t physically have items in your hands, there were still physical sensations happening in your body.
When you visualize, you are bringing something from the subconscious to the conscious.
You can do this with creating your dream life.
Visualization allows you to vocalize exactly what you want.
By creating what kind of life you want to have, seeing it in your mind’s eye and feeling the sensations, you are telling your subconscious that it is possible to have these things and feel this way.
This will help propel you towards what you want.
You can visualize everything…. From what you want to eat later, how you want to feel in a year, to even visualizing certain experiences.
When your mind and body are in sync, there is a high chance your visualizations will come true.
Keep track of them. Journal them. Get real specific with your goals, and see what happens.
So for example, maybe you want to have better gut health…. Visualize how it would feel to be at your optimal health, what foods you would eat to keep your health in tiptop shape, what restaurants you would eat at, what items you would buy, what things you would do if you had better gut health.
Visualize it all.
This gives your subconscious a path to walk down.
You are basically laying a road map for you to follow, which sets you up to create specific, concrete goals for yourself.
It’s said we have over 6,000 thoughts every single day.
Our thoughts play a role in our vibration that we send out into the world.
If you have a thought “Oh, I look so ugly today.”
When you go out into the world, you may feel self conscious if someone is staring at you, and you subconsciously shy away from them because you are embarrassed.
All of these negative thoughts add up and ultimately change how you show up in the world.
What if instead of saying “Oh, I look so ugly today” you changed it to “Wow, I am an awesome human being with unique traits.”
By saying this to yourself, you may feel lighter.
You vibrate higher.
Every thought is a vibration, and the universe will match this vibration you are sending out. It is the law of attraction in full force.
Oftentimes, we aren’t even aware that we are spiraling into a negative thought hurricane.
The first step is awareness. Track your thoughts right when you wake up. See how many of them are negative.
Once you notice how often you are rude to yourself, you can start to flip these thoughts around. You can nip each negative thought and change it to a positive one.
Your mind and body are connected so deeply in regards to holistic health.
Your thoughts are so powerful because they help shape your emotions and the lens through which you see the world.
This lens can trigger certain behaviors.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the pituitary gland signals to the adrenal glands to release hormones like cortisol. Cortisol regulates your sleep cycle, inflammation in your body, bone formation, and helps you handle emergency situations.
When your mind races and signals your body into stress, it "diminishes [your] white blood cell response to viral infected cells and cancer cells," (Littrell).
Controlling your stress starts with controlling your thoughts and becoming consciously aware of your surroundings.
Otherwise, this excess stress you create for yourself quite literally lowers your immune response.
Studies show that talk therapies are proven to "enhance the body's ability to fight disease," (Littrell).
By simply sending nourishing thoughts to your body, you create a calming environment in the brain. The brain loves to be nurtured and coddled.
This ultimately can help yourself heal by not putting the brain and body into high alert mode.
Disclaimer: Please note I am not a professional doctor. Holistic health practices should be taken into consideration for what is right for your body in conjunction with doctor's recommendations.
Intuitive eating ditches every diet.
This, of course, is again where the mind and body are connected in holistic health.
I could have a whole other blog about intuitive eating.
With the amount of diets that failed me, I could even become an intuitive eating coach at this rate if I wanted. Intuitive eating was, and still is, my saving grace.
When your mind becomes acutely in touch with your body, you start to listen to exactly what it needs.
You understand when you are eating because you’re bored, sad, happy, or actually hungry.
You allow yourself a whole range of food honoring what your body needs.
I was a yo-yo dieter for years. I tried every diet in the book. So when I heard of intuitive eating, I was excited, but also terrified.
Not restricting myself was scary. It was the unknown.
What if I eat everything in sight?
What if I gain weight and go off the handle?
When I slowed down and listened to my body, I realized that if I overdid it on carbs or sweets, my body would say “okay, it’s time for a veggie-filled meal now.”
It was a bumpy ride transitioning over to intuitive eating.
In fact, it still is a bumpy ride, but it’s giving yourself grace every step of the way.
If you overeat, IT'S OKAY! Not beating yourself up and recognizing the "why" behind your actions is incredibly crucial.
Remember, awareness is always the first step.
It’s watching those negative thoughts and leaning on those new positive thought patterns you created in the above point.
I realized the body naturally wants to maintain homeostasis, stability within the body. It regulates itself if you allow it to. All you have to do is listen.
Holistic health is not about restricting, dieting or labeling foods as bad or good. There are no rules.
Under the category of holistic health, intuitive eating is simply tuning in and listening to what you need and trying to get to the root of why you need it.
And then, ultimately, it’s all about enjoying.
Enjoying the food you’re eating and the experiences of your life in the present moment.
I hope you enjoyed reading about holistic health and the 5 ways to connect your mind and body naturally.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to poke around to read more blogs, and if this blog resonated with you, please reach out and let me know.
Here's to your holistic health journey!
Jill Littrell PhD, LCSW (2008) The Mind-Body Connection, Social Work in Health Care, 46:4, 17-37, DOI: 10.1300/J010v46n04_02
“Adrenal Glands.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/adrenal-glands.