Why you may not be as well and happy as you’d like to be.
So you’re pretty health conscious right? You exercise regularly, do yoga (or at least you’d like to), and you eat a mostly good diet with some super foods like coconut, chia and kale thrown into the mix. You’ve given up sugar or coffee at least once and may even be contemplating a paleo or grain free diet, because something just isn’t right is it?
You have what I call ‘salad and workout syndrome’, and you just can’t put your finger on why you’re not quite thriving yet. Want to know why? Read on..
We are SO much more than our bodies, and a large part of our health and happiness cannot be found in green smoothies and sweat. Don’t throw your hands in the air just yet – there are other ways to be healthy and happy.
- Get to know your thoughts. Our minds can be like naughty monkeys and they need discipline. Runaway negative thoughts and self-talk is damaging, depressing and detrimental to our health. Start by paying attention to the themes and begin to notice what’s running in the background of your mind. Also pay attention to what you’re feeding your little monkey – is it negative, depressing and draining or are you feeding it expansive, positive and encouraging material that makes you feel great? Take stock and cut out the negative mind food TO-DAY.
Journaling is a great way to get to the bottom of damaging thought processes and belief systems, sometimes seeking help is best if you’re finding it’s all to big to tackle alone. Next you need to replace unhealthy thoughts and beliefs with positive, meaningful and uplifting ways of viewing the world. Personalised affirmations and mantras are great for this, or get your mind hooked into a few self-help books or inspiring stories. Mindfulness practices, meditation and silent time in nature are also ways to find peace in a busy and overloaded mind.
- Get to know your emotions. I know, the big F word – feelings. They’re tough, but only because we run away from them like they’re big hairy monsters. Allowing yourself to get to know and fully experience ALL of your emotions is key to a healthy and fulfilling life. I find the biggest helper in a busy life is to always have space in reserve to deal with emotions, otherwise they just create more stress – EG “I’m so upset about (blah) but I have to go to work so there’s no use crying, I have to get on with it.” Or I’m so angry about the way I was treated but I’ll get over it.” Wrong. Emotions don’t get over themselves, and they continue to affect us in many harmful ways if we don’t process them and allow them the time they need. Think of them like a filter that needs cleaning regularly, otherwise it gets blocked, dirty and dysfunctional.
If we don’t acknowledge and process our feelings, their effects just get worse over time, clouding our vision, affecting relationships and our health. We then find unhealthy ways to express them like bitching, gossiping, road rage and bullying. We’re not taught in schools how to deal with them in healthy ways so it can be tricky to get started.
Journaling, reflective writing, watching sad movies that help you cry, or stomping on a cardboard box are good places to start. If the least you can do is acknowledge them by saying “I am feeling angry”, “I am feeling deeply sad”, “I am feeling disheartened”, it starts you on the road to getting to know and validate your feelings and acknowledge your human nature. Again, please seek support if you need a hand, there is great strength in asking for help.
* A little note about happiness.. Happiness isn’t always the optimum goal, but it certainly is a pleasant state that we can strive for. In the process, remember that we cannot fully experience the magic of happiness without being able to experience it’s opposite polarity. Being happy is great, just remember to allow the difficult emotions too, think of them as a key to unlocking more joy.
- Nurture your Spirit. Whaaat? But I’m not religious, how do I do that? Good question. Your spirit is not only nurtured by religion, it’s nurtured by doing whatever makes your heart sing. It’s any space or activity where you can listen to your inner voice, and allow your deeper knowing to shine through. It’s peaceful, and gets down deep into what makes you feel alive, connected and happy. Some people find the connection in being creative – painting, drawing, photography, others in cooking, running or helping others.
To nurture your spirit you need to spend time doing what you love. A clue is to go with what excites you or stirs up feelings of anticipation. Often it’s the things we say we never have time for: creative pursuits, music, dancing, playing, being in nature. What did you love doing as a child?
“Move your body in fun ways, sing at the top of your lungs in your car, watch sunsets, revel in eating an ice-cream, take naps…”
- Spend time in nature. Yes nature, outside with the fresh air, weather and all. Being in nature often, is a way to connect us to our human nature. Ok, Ok I’ll back up a bit. We are an inextricable part of nature, and our relationship with it has changed quite fast over the last few generations. We have gone from living very closely with it, to dominating it and shutting it out in order to live our urban lifestyles.
Some parts of us have adapted really well, physically for example, but our mind, emotions and spirit, I believe, are suffering as a result of the loose connection. We have gone from using food as medicine and being connected to ourselves and the environment, to relying on others to take care of our health and have lost touch with some key parts of ourselves in the process.
I’m not suggesting you go back to living in a cave; I too like my modern life! Finding ways to get close to nature though will help your total health. Its beauty and peace allow us space to clear the mind, process difficult emotions, and nurture our spirits. The health benefits are many and I won’t list them here, get out there and discover what being amongst it can do for your total wellbeing.
So, just as you regularly find ways to ‘workout’ and move your body and eat healthy food, find some time in your schedule to work ‘in’ and create a healthy inner life too. The effects are bound to show up in positive ways in all areas of your life.
Need extra food for thought? Take a peek at my Dynamic Wellness Course here.
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