Practicing a More Holistic Lifestyle in the New Year
By Rachel Remington
In the wake of each New Year, I find myself reflecting on the past year, often feeling disappointed that I didn’t achieve more of the goals that I set for myself. I’m sure that a lot of people can relate to this feeling, and would like to feel more accomplished and satisfied with life by the end of the year. However, I’ve realized that a big part of what’s kept me from feeling more content with life is this constant overwhelming desire to reach big goals, while neglecting to focus on the little things that contribute to my overall happiness and wellness. In 2017, I will of course still work towards the bigger goals in my life, but I’m also going to put a lot of energy into making the minor changes that will lead to a happier me. I plan to do so by focusing on practicing a more holistic lifestyle.
Holistic health is a health practice that focuses on more than just your physical wellness. It is a focus on your mind, body, and spirit, and how working to improve each of these aspects of your life will give you the greatest health and happiness possible. If one of these aspects of your life is unhealthy, it can take a great toll on other aspects of your health and well-being. For example, if you are feeling overwhelmed with stress, you may suffer a number of physical symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and chest pain. Stress can even increase your risk for more major health problems, such as diabetes or a weakened immune system. By focusing on improving and maintaining the health of your mind, body, and spirit, you are not only going to be in your best possible health, but you are going to prevent a domino effect of other health problems. I’ve put together a list of ideas to help you get started on working towards a more holistic lifestyle, but I encourage you to explore even more ideas for optimum health and happiness.
Meditation can provide many benefits, among which include decreased stress levels, increased focus and calmness, lower blood pressure, and an improved immune system. On a spiritual level, meditation connects you with that inner part of you, sometimes referred to as your higher self. There are numerous mental, physical, and spiritual benefits related to meditation, so I highly encourage practicing it for optimum health. Meditating can also help you to be more mindful by letting go of thoughts about the past or future, and focusing on the present. If you are too focused on the past, you may feel regrets about past experiences and decisions, while focusing too much on the future can overwhelm you with worry about things you need to get done. By focusing more on the present, you can focus on enjoying each experience and moment more wholly. Meditating can be as simple as finding somewhere quiet and comfortable where you can focus on calm breathing and letting go of the thoughts that enter your mind, but you may find guided or task-based meditations helpful as well. For more information on meditation, you can visit Meditation Resources, or check out author Curt Remington’s book, Simple Meditation.
Eat Healthier Foods
Eating healthy shouldn’t just be about cutting carbs and losing weight. It should also be about putting wholesome, natural, and toxin-free foods into your body that will improve your health and energy levels. One of the best things that you can do for your diet is to increase your plant-based food intake, which includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. While working to increase your plant-based food intake, you could also make efforts to decrease your intake of animal proteins and refined foods. Eating a more plant-based diet can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, while improving your fiber intake, eye health, and skin health, among other things.
Finding a way to help others in the world not only makes you feel good about your contribution, but it can make a big difference in the lives of individuals and communities. You could help others by doing something as little as buying someone in need a warm meal, or something as big as volunteering to help build homes in third world countries. By focusing less on what you can get from the world, and more on what you can give to the world, you can become less worried about the stresses in your life, and instead feel more joyful about the positive changes you’re making in the world. If you are looking for opportunities to help out, you could look for volunteer opportunities through local volunteer organizations or businesses. Mashable also has a great list of resources for finding volunteer opportunities.
Hobbies are a great way to learn something new, explore something you’re interested in, and build self-esteem by developing a skill. In terms of mental health, hobbies can help you to reduce stress, improve self-esteem, develop greater mental acuity, and increase pleasure and relaxation in your life. If your hobby involves a physical activity of some sort, then of course you are also working towards improving your physical health. I incorporate a variety of hobbies into my life, such as painting, playing guitar, and mountain biking, and find that a balance of physically and creatively challenging activities gives me the greatest benefits. If you’re not sure what kind of hobbies you’d like to try, Hobby Lark has a great list of ideas for hobbies, broken down into categories based on your interests and lifestyle.
Get Outside and Get Active
There are many health benefits related to regular exercise, including weight control, disease prevention, and improved energy, so I highly encourage finding ways to incorporate regular exercise into your life. Beyond just exercising for the physical health benefits, there are ways in which you can get exercise that benefits you mentally and emotionally as well. I have found that the most enjoyable way to get exercise is to partake in a physical activity that helps you to develop a skill and challenges you, both physically and mentally. Two of my favorite physical activities are mountain biking and snowboarding, which not only provide great exercise, but provide a challenging activity that pushes me to become better and develop my skills further. The adrenaline rush associated with such activities is also great benefit. Any physical activity that involves getting closer to nature can be of great benefit too. By doing activities such as kayaking or hiking, you have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings, breathe clean air, and improve your mood, all the while exercising and improving your physical health.
Whether you want to improve relationships with those already in your life, or you want to build connections with more people, relationships are an important part of life. Having good relationships in your life can decrease stress, boost self-esteem, and bring you great joy through your experiences together. If you’re interested in developing new personal relationships, there are lots of ways that you can connect with new people that share some of your interests and values. You could join a class (such as an exercise class or art class), find a Meetup group that you’re interested in, partake in a group volunteer opportunity, or join a small group travel company such as Intrepid Travel. Meeting new people and putting yourself out there can be scary, but chances are, there are lots of like-minded people out there waiting to build more connections and enjoy the company of others.
If you want to create a more meaningful and healthy life for yourself, in which you feel joy and wellness on a daily basis, then consider adopting a more holistic lifestyle. Living more holistically doesn’t require taking years out of your life to achieve, but is something that you can start doing today. By making small changes to improve your mental, physical, and spiritual well-being, you may find that you feel happier and healthier than ever.