Mindful Practices for Holistic Self-Care

Someone recently ask me what is holistic nutrition when they saw that it was a professional focus of ours. There are many working parts to wellness and it must be approached as whole-body care. The body isn't limited to physical needs. Mental health, spiritual health and physical health creates an integral system. Neglecting one WILL impact the other. It's not a question.

In regard to your day-to-day activities or routine, consider which practices are serving you and which are creating more stress. This is an approach to mindfulness, being aware of the self. If it isn't apparent, practice being in the moment throughout your day, observing how your behaviors and habits are impacting you. Additionally, which interactions or environments are triggering more stress or anxiety? Still keep in mind that there does not need to be a specific stressor or bad day in order to incorporate self-care strategies that aid in your holistic well-being. We have to maintain good health in addition to promoting it.

This list includes helpful self-care practices that are generally beneficial to us all:

· Journaling

o Create an outlet for expression and managing anxiety. Other creative outlets (other forms of art) can be practiced in place of journaling, allowing you to process your daily life. Journal a few times per week!

· Write a letter to yourself

o What do you want for yourself in this lifetime? Encourage yourself as you would with someone else that you love. Compliment your progress and reflect on the life lessons that you’ve learned and earned. Forgive yourself of the past (a working effort but there must be a starting place). Revisit this exercise every few months as things change and evolve for you.

· Practice positive self-talk

o This cannot be emphasized enough. Your mental health is impacted by your thoughts and attitudes and your body hears what your mind thinks. The brain is plastic and can change with reinforcement. Replacing negative thinking patterns with positive thoughts and self-talk is a powerful method towards holistic wellness. Start small and work your way towards larger change. Putting yourself down, for example, because something isn’t going as you hoped; replace it with positive affirmations and encouragement to the self. This does not mean ignore your issues. Don’t harbor on negative thoughts and stop putting yourself down. Make an effort not to catastrophize until it becomes normal for you not to.

· Take a bath

o Baths aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and it has sort of become a cliché form of self-care. Forget about that. If you enjoy baths, then continue enjoying your bath. Set a spa-like mood with low music and unscented candles and put a do-not-disturb sign on your door. You deserve to enjoy a relaxing form of self-care. Setting aside self-care time without distractions is important. Side note: women should be careful not to take too many hot baths within a week, as it may disrupt your vaginal PH balance.

· Change your eating habits

o Touchy subject for some. Straight shooting here but overly processed foods are not good for you. Healthy nutrition is a lifestyle. Minimize processed foods for starters (i.e. packaged foods and snacks, canned foods, fast food, etc.). Incorporate whole foods and raw foods (fruits and veggies) into your diet. Raw foods will expose you to more nutrients and antioxidants. There is also a gut-brain connection. Having a healthy gut promotes mental well-being.

· Engage in enjoyable activities

o There are those interests that drive our passion and may always be enjoyable, and there are other activities that may change as we evolve as individuals. If you’ve experienced any recent shifts in your lifestyle or major changes, your extracurriculars may need to as well (ex: making healthier changes or those transitioning into sobriety). Either way, making time for enjoyable activities endorsed good mental and physical health, as well as purpose and relaxation. If you’re lacking this in your life, revisit old activities that you no longer engage in or explore new activities as self-discovery.

· Meditate or connect with nature

o Finding a higher sense of connection to yourself through experiencing nature can heighten your intuition and induce a higher sense of spirituality. This invites calm and gratitude into your life and is a positive aid in stress relief.

· Tidy your living space

o Having a neat, inviting space can also create calm in your life and is relaxing to the mood. Surround yourself with things that are inspiring. If you have a big family or small children, it’s likely difficult to do so but have at least your bedroom as that sanctuary if possible. A chaotic environment promotes a chaotic mindset.

· Balanced Lifestyle

o When I refer to lifestyle balance, think of a pie chart. Consider making slices that account for each aspect of your lifestyle (i.e. family, work, hobbies, volunteering, etc.). It all depends on what’s appropriate to you as an individual and what your values are. Some slices may be smaller than others, indicating an imbalance in your life. Does ever aspect of your lifestyle need equal time? Of course not. You do, however, need to evaluate what’s important that may be in neglect, or rather what may temporarily require more attention. Balance is essential. For many, family and work will be the grunt of their lifestyle pie.

· Sleep Hygiene

o Sleep hygiene is more than getting enough rest. A lot of our decisions, actions and mindset go into how well we rest. Then there are other contributing factors, such as anxiety or PTSD, which may keep many from a restful slumber. From a whole-body standpoint, lifestyle changes play a significant role in your sleeping patterns. A basic approach to getting a healthy amount of rest is establishing a nighttime routine that supports that idea. Routine can include such actions as mediation (5 min mediation before sleeping), avoiding stimulating activities or screens within 30 min-1 hour before bedtime, avoid eating withing 3 hours before sleeping, have a set time for bed, bathing or showering before sleeping, aromatherapy, etc. We must find what works for us as individuals. Why is sleep hygiene important to your overall health? The mind, body spirit is an integrated system that impact each other. A lack of sleep is bad news for the immune system and can negatively impact memory and cognition. Reducing stress is difficult if you’re major stressors are work or family, but stress reduction is essential to sleep and holistic well-being. If you’re suffering from medical or mental health issues that are regularly interfering with your sleeping patterns, you will want to deal with the underlying issue head on. Seek out a specialist.

· Feel your feelings

o Acknowledge what you’re going through. Cry if you need to. Laugh if you need to. And explore where those feelings may be originating. You do not have to share it with anyone but asking for help is okay. If you don’t have a support system, engage in activities that may allow you to network. Seek spiritual, mental or medical help if your mind or body is in need. You are enough and you are not overreacting.

· Boundaries

o Boundaries have become the hot topic lately. I think people are consciously exploring their feelings and limitations, allowing them to discover the significance of establishing boundaries. Everyone will have their own unique needs in boundary setting. Some need boundaries at work; protecting one’s personal space or not engaging in gossip. Some of us are lacking boundaries with our families; meddling, financially or efforts to heal from generational trauma. Explore where you should practice boundary setting.


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