Updated: May 2, 2020
What is a holistic lifestyle and how do I manifest this in my life? The term holistic really means all-encompassing. It considers all aspects of you and the systems which you are a part of. It not only refers to your mind, body and soul but also the community of which you are a part of, the broader system of society and even the universe. However, for the purpose of this post I will be focusing on aspects of: the mind; body; and soul. Living holistically is a way of life. It's a conscious and mindful choice that you make for yourself to promote health, healing, happiness and overall wellness within you and around you. I believe everyone deserves to achieve wellness in their lives. So here are some essential tips to start living a more holistic lifestyle today:
1. Listen to your body
One of the most important things we can learn within holistic health is the connection between our minds and our bodies. Learning to listen in and feel connected with our bodies is a powerful healing tool which we are all capable of tapping into when we put our minds to it. Have you ever noticed how your body responds to a stressful day or an emotional event? Our bodies are often the most truthful testament to how we are really feeling internally. Even if we choose to ignore or suppress certain emotions, our bodies will show us signs to make sure we listen. That splitting headache, sore tummy or extreme exhaustion, is so often felt in our physical body but what we don't always realise is the connection within our emotional body.
One of the best ways to understand this connection is by realising the amazing things that your body is already doing for you. Think about the fact that you are breathing right now. Without having to think about it, right? Your body is already doing this remarkable thing without you having to even think about it. Learning to manipulate our breath through breathing exercises is one of the easiest ways to get in touch with our mind-body connection. When we consciously control our breath, we are able to notice that our mind has this ability - the ability to change our incoming and outgoing breath. Our breath is therefore a big focus in mindful, holistic living as it is the primary link between our bodies and our minds. Various breathing exercises can help with enhancing this connection but it's good to also be aware and listen to your body for aches and pains; try to be more mindful or when it may be trying to communicate with you by listening in a little deeper.
2. Declutter your space
This is such an important step in fostering wellness. A step which I think often gets overlooked. If you think of a messy space or environment, how does it make you feel? i would be really surprised by anyone who says it feels good and genuinely means it. For me, a messy space equals a messy mind because it just creates so much room for distraction. Try to foster a relationship with tidying up as a time to reset your space. This can enhance creativity, innovative thinking, mindfulness as well as a general sense of calm over chaos.
3. Practice Mindfulness
This leads me to the concept of mindfulness. Perhaps this is something you are familiar with or something you are already trying to implement in your life. It is the art of being present; in the moment, without engaging in distracting thoughts or actions. It doesn't mean that there won't be those distracting thoughts or things around us, it means we choose to exercise our minds to let them move past and around us without engaging with them directly. The benefits of practicing mindfulness are abundant, as it allows us to feel more grounded, calm and connected to ourselves and our environments. There are many ways we can practice being mindful which don't take up a lot of time or energy.
take a mindful walk
eat a meal mindfully
take a mindful shower
do a mindful meditation
As I'm sure you can see, these are things we often do daily anyway but it's really putting your energy into doing them with the intention of being mindful. Setting out to do things with intention will enhance your focus, communication and emotional capacity When doing things mindfully, we notice our five senses, we have a heightened awareness and curiosity and we are open minded to learn new things.
4. Move your body
Your body is designed for movement, for flow, for connection and grounding. Get moving today and not only will your body will thank you tomorrow, your mind will too. Exercise is scientifically proven to enhance emotional stability and help with mental strength and wellness. These days we live such sedentary lives; sitting at desks, behind computers (like me as I write this), and on the couch in front of the TV. This means our bodies take strain being forced to sit for hours at a time as it is not how we as a species have naturally evolved over the years. Our posture, body alignment and muscles take strain and therefore we need to work harder on aligning ourselves when we get the chance, before or after work/study hours.
This, of course, can take many forms. It can include: stretching at your desk; standing up for a few minutes at a time; cleaning up around the house; taking brain breaks to go for a walk; walking close distances instead of driving, singing and dancing in the car, etc (you get my drift). And then of course, your traditional exercises of choice. Just start moving more, assisting your mind-body connection to deepen further.
5. Get your hands dirty
Getting creative is an important source of learning about ourselves and the world around us. As children, play and creativity is our main source of learning as well as communication.
Try get in touch with your inner child by: picking up a paintbrush; taking out that colouring book; dancing to some groovy tunes; trying a new recipe; doodling; putting together a new outfit; making up a song or poem; writing a letter to someone you love; or arranging a bunch of flowers from the garden.
Creativity has no limits. Make it your own, get silly and get busy without thinking too much about it. Try and see what comes up naturally, you may even surprise yourself. This can also be a great way to connect with others. You can join a class or club and get a new hobby, either with a friend or go with the intention of meeting some new people. Creativity in a social environment can also help us to get out of our heads a little and focus on the task at hand.
6. Connect with Mother Nature
Disconnect from your devices and reconnect with our Mother Nature. I have found myself asking lately, 'have I been outside today?'. If the answer is no, I notice that I am actually craving this connection to the outdoors, fresh air and and the natural world. This is something I have learnt is super important for me as it almost works as a reset button. By connecting to our natural world we are grounding ourselves with the earth, where we come from, allowing time to recalibrate after being in less natural settings of our towns and city surroundings.
Are you familiar with forest bathing? This is a Japanese term which basically means immersing yourself in a forest environment for a significant amount of time in order to reap the benefits of the nutrients the plants give off and the elevated level of oxygen in these beautiful natural spaces. Next time you're needing a good dose of Mother Nature try taking to a forest nearby where you can take a walk around and notice the profound natural aesthetics of nature and take in the fresh smells and healing oxygen. Use your five senses to experience a natural space to help integrate your body, mind and soul.
7. Nourish your body & mind
You may have heard of the saying 'eat your heart out'? I guess there could be many interpretations to this but what mostly comes to mind for me is eating our emotions. Is this something you can be guilty of at times? I get it, it feels good to eat when we feel emotional. Here's why: the spike of sugar from your snack, to your brain also spikes serotonin which is the happy hormone, therefore making us feel a little brighter. However, this effect is only temporary and that's why we often find ourselves reaching for more in the kitchen.
Living holistically includes what we put into our bodies as well as our minds so let's eat our hearts out by: nourishing ourselves with healthy and heart-warming ingredients. With regards to food, these are things that are high in nutritional value and include a balance of food types across the food groups as well as enough hydration.
With regards to our minds, we need to be constantly feeding it nourishing positive thoughts: practicing self-love; a positive internal dialog; as well as learning new things and empowering ourselves by expanding our knowledge constantly. It's totally okay to have a snack attack or a binge on some rubbish Netflix series from time to time but try to be more conscious of your choices and ask yourself, what value-add does this have on my life?
8. Prioritise sleep
Ever got to the end of the day wondered why you felt particularly wobbly that day? A lot of the time this is most likely due to a poor night's sleep the night before. Sleep has an influence on, not only our emotional state, but our concentration, our digestion as well as our physical bodies. Getting enough sleep (and not too much sleep) is essential for holistic living as it gives us enough time to rest and integrate what we have learnt in our time awake. Our dreams are even a reflection of our daily lives and cognitions, even if they are subconscious. Through our dreams, our brains are actively trying to solve problems that our conscious minds have not arrived at answers for yet and this is essential for personal growth and development.
Try keep your bedroom as a place for sleeping and connecting with your partner (if you have someone special). As soon as your introduce other activities to the bedroom it tells your mind that this is not only a place to sleep and thus it becomes more difficult to cultivate sleep there. Things such as: TV; Ipads, work or even food can be detrimental to your sleep. Make sleep a priority in your life to allow for enough rest and rejuvenation.
This may all seem like a lot of information to take in, especially if you are only starting to choose a more holistic lifestyle, but just start slowly, taking one step at a time towards your improved conscious lifestyle. Please let me know what works or doesn't work for you and share with those you know might be trying to establish a more holistic lifestyle. I will definitely be writing more on this topic as it's something I am so passionate about and it is what I base my therapeutic work on. Watch out for more soon and get in touch if there are other topics you would like to hear about.