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Most of us probably know by now how important it is to eat a clean diet of real, whole foods, avoid processed and refined foods, and keep our sugar intake to a minimum.
What we eat is our first defense against illness and the very first place we must start in order to improve our health. No matter what our current state of health is, so much can be healed (and prevented) through nourishing foods.
This is something that I, myself, have been adamantly focused on for the last few years, and especially the last two years, as I work towards healing my own body of the health issues I am facing.
Healing through food is nothing new.
Even Hippocrates, father of medicine knew this way back in 431 B.C., when he said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
So, as long as we all eat lots of real food, avoid processed foods, GMOs, sugar, etc., then we should achieve perfect health, right?
There is so much more to achieving optimal health and one of the biggest areas that gets overlooked is our mental health and our mind’s attitude towards healing.
Many people find that they get the dietary aspects down pat, but they still don’t quite heal. This is often because our minds are not allowing us to heal, for whatever reason. I recently had this discussion I had with my chiropractor and he said that he found this very common in his practice.
This is an area that is rarely touched on by today’s medical practitioners, no matter if they are mainstream or alternative. Healing the mind and soul is just as critical as everything else, and I think as women, we often struggle with this more than men. Quite often, our needs as women are the last to be met or attended to because we are too busy taking care of everything (and everyone) else.
It’s time that we take control of our lives and start putting ourselves first. Our health depends on it, both physically and mentally. Here are 5 simple ways to get started.
5 Ways to Nurture Yourself and Heal Your Mind, Body, and Soul
Be Kind. This is a no-brainer, right? We all know we should be kind to others, but do we really take the time to be extra kind to ourselves?
As women in a chaotic world, there are a lot of expectations of us. From careers to kids to dinner to bills to housework to maintaining a strong marriage, the list can grow rather large when it comes to our responsibilities and what is expected of us.
When faced with all of this, how do we treat ourselves when things get stressful? How do we treat ourselves when we mess up or drop the ball on something?
I personally have a tendency to beat myself up over my failures. I have extremely high expectations of myself and failure often affects me more than the average person. I am slowly learning not to beat myself up and remind myself that I am strong, I am beautiful, I am loved, and I am capable, no matter what life throws at me.
Disconnect. Wowsers, this is a HARD one for me and from speaking to other women I know, it can often be a hard one for them as well.
I work two full-time jobs and both are Web-based. That means that I am typically online for a minimum of 12-14 hours per day, 6 days per week. I often feel that it is simply impossible for me to step away from technology and turn everything off. There is always work to do and the to-do list is never ending.
I do take one full day off (Saturday, the Sabbath) and completely disconnect. For me, this is critical to my mental health.
There are many times that I wish I had chosen a different profession, one that did not require me to be online all day, every day, however, I do love what I do, so I try to remember that when I start feeling down.
I think the key is recognize how much technology may be affecting your life and then find ways to adjust your schedules to allow for more time unplugged. This is still an area that I am working on, but it does get easier with time. That to-do list will still be there tomorrow!
Say No. As women, many of us are constantly taking on project after project. Whether it is for your career, your home, your children, your husband, or any other number of things, it’s very easy for us to overextend ourselves.
Overextending ourselves creates stress and stress creates dis-ease in the body. One of the hardest things for me to do is to say no. I am a notorious overachiever who is constantly busy with that next big project. Over the years, I have regularly taken on more than I can chew and my health has suffered for it.
The best advice that I have heard was from Marie Forelo and she said that when you are presented with an opportunity, be it big or small, always ask yourself, “Will this help me reach my end goal? Will this project be beneficial to my business (insert family, self, etc.) now and in the future? Is this something that I need to be spending my time on?”
If you can’t honestly answer a resounding YES to all of those questions, let the opportunity pass by. There is nothing wrong with that.
Forgive. Ahhh, a simple word with such complex meaning.
Sometimes it’s hard to forgive. It can be hard to forgive others and it can be equally as hard to forgive ourselves.
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone does dumb things.
And everyone deserves forgiveness, including ourselves.
Over the last year, I have become acutely aware of how much baggage I was hanging on to from the past. There were transgressions, hurt feelings, unresolved issues, and more that were building up deep within my mind. It is often hard for me to let go of things, and I have a tendency to dwell on the past, rather than looking forward to the future.
As I have become more aware of this, I have realized just how much that has affected my health. Not only have I suffered physical and mental health consequences of not letting and forgiving, it has also prevented me from making as much progress toward regaining my health as I could.
The mind is many times our own worst enemy and if there are unresolved issues that must be sorted out, then it is critical that we take the time to do so, otherwise, we are literally harming our health.
Sleep. Last, but certainly not least, one of the top ways we can love ourselves and heal our bodies is to get enough quality sleep.
For years, I would stay up late, get up early, and go, go, go. This is just the way of the world nowadays, but in all actuality, it is highly detrimental to our overall health. Not only is sleep critical for our overall health, but lack of quality sleep can create a wide range of health problems, as well as prevent us from healing whatever issues we may currently be facing.
I personally have been dealing with the all-too-common autoimmune thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (read my healing journey here). That illness in turn creates a trifecta of issues involving adrenals, blood sugar, and thyroid. All of which require adequate sleep, strict nutrition, and lots of self-care to get things under control.
Our bodies run on a sensitive circadian rhythm and we should strive to honor that as much as possible. A minimum of 7 hours of sleep is critical to overall health, but if you’re suffering from health issues, you probably need more. It is recommended that we all strive to be in bed no later than 10:00pm. Some experts even recommend being in bed by 9:30pm, so that you are actually asleep by 10. The adrenal glands restore between the hours of 11pm and 1am, so making sure you’re asleep before that is important.
Also, it is recommended that technology be turned off several hours prior to bedtime, in order to help your body naturally trigger melatonin production.
Sleep has been one of the hardest things for me to focus on, because I am always busy and I always have things to do. I really have to work hard and focus to make it a priority, otherwise, before I know it, it’s 12am and I’m still on the computer working. I found this post from Divine Health to be very helpful for me when it comes to sleep.
What Would You Add?
This is far from being a complete list of all of the things we can do to love ourselves and help cultivate health, but they are a great place to start. We must start putting our health and our needs on the front burner. We deserve it.
What would you add to this list? How to you nurture your body and mind?
Want even more information on health and wellness? Check out these articles:
- How to Find Balance with Diet, Nutrition, and Happiness
- 11 Tips for Balance, Eating Well, and Minimizing Stress
- Making Time for Exercise
- Why I Love Yoga: Is Yoga For Me?
- Why I Love Yoga: The Health Benefits of Yoga
- Yoga for Women’s Hormonal Health with Dr. Sara Gottfried