10 Steps to a Holistic Life
Never before has it been more important to take notice of our health! It’s a word that gets bandied around a lot these days, but what does it actually mean to be healthy and to live a holistic life?
True purists live as close to and in nature as possible, breathing unpolluted air, drinking unpolluted water, and consuming only organic produce provided by nature. They also spend time in deep meditation, celebrate the rising of the moon and setting of the sun, bathing in moonbeams and sunstreams, and dancing in the rain.
While this escape from the current world madness may seem incredibly appealing, we don’t all have the luxury of sitting around the campfire and singing ‘kumbaya’ but we absolutely do have the ability to reduce our environmental toxic load and live a life that could begin to feel a little more healthy and as close to holistic as possible.
The ongoing global pandemic should be an opportunity for every ‘Health’ Agency to focus on improving the health of their nation, however the focus on safety as opposed to health has created a mentality of fear related to imminent death instead of a sense of empowerment about how to live a long, vital, active, and healthy life.
For those who choose to focus on health and take personal responsibility for their wellbeing, there are great rewards and that begins with a mindset that lives in the present, respects the past and plans for the future. Many people are not even aware of their programmed thought processes that lead them through a life of limited beliefs, and yet others who consider themselves critical thinkers, free spirits and even rebels could not imagine living in a world where authority and order dictates and controls their existence. These people tend to live more in harmony with the laws of nature, not falling into the traps of consumerism, but rather in appreciation for the beauty all around them, stepping lightly on the earth with minimal impact.
There is an easy sense of joy and optimism in these people who choose to focus on their personal happiness and health, and by following some simple steps, anyone who chooses to, can also benefit from releasing their self-imposed control mechanisms and begin to live a life that looks more like the one they dreamed of when they were a little kid.
The benefits of following these guidelines may not only gift you with better health, but it will hopefully also enable you to share these gifts with those you love as a lasting legacy for having lived a full and vibrant life with purpose and passion.
To achieve something you haven’t had before, you need to accept that old habits have to change and these are the 10 steps to help get you there.
1. NUTRITION – Food is so much more than nutrition; it is medicine for every cell in your body. How you nourish your body and provide the nutrients it needs, to not only function but flourish is step one. The modern diet is responsible for the rise in illness, disease and death that continues to rise in epidemic proportions around the world. Research shows that up to 90% of disease is lifestyle related with nearly all related to the intake of processed, high sugar, saturated fat, and chemically loaded franken food that has absolutely no resemblance to anything that came from nature.
Begin with cleaning out the pantry and fridge of anything that isn’t a whole food. If it contains preservatives, additives, flavourings, colourings, numbers, and codes, it’s a dead giveaway its dead food!
Search out your nearest weekend markets and spend time marvelling at the seasonal produce fresh from the farms, stock up on homemade preserves, spices and herbs while getting to know your new shopping destination. This is habit number one. The thing is that when you start to eat whole food, your body will respond positively by rewarding you with more energy, clearer skin, regular bowel habits and a better sense of wellbeing. The more healthy food you consume, the more you will crave and less likely to revert back to poor habits from the past, and nothing tastes better than home-made!
2. WATER – we’ve all heard the saying that water is the essence of life, but what they actually mean is chemical free, non-fluoridated water that hasn’t been altered by artificial means where chemicals have altered the structure and have a negative effect on your cellular health. Water is so much more than hydration for the body. Water carries nutrients, oxygen, and waste to and from your cells and organs including your brain. Water also regulates body temperature and protects your joints, tissues and organs from shock and damage. Two litres of water a day is ideal. You can enjoy it pure or change it up with sliced lemon, cucumber, herbal infusions, teas, and broths. Fill a bottle everyday and make that the beginning of habit number two.
3. MOVEMENT – Humans are designed to move, and we need to make sure we incorporate movement every day of our lives. The old adage ‘move it or lose it’ is absolutely true especially as we age when muscle tone, strength and muscle memory begin to diminish unless we make a conscious effort to find a movement exercise that we love and will commit to. Movement also has the bonus effect of releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones that generate a sense of wellbeing, so the more you move, the happier you will be. It doesn’t have to be strenuous or painful. Movement can be as simple as going for a 30-minute walk, but it can also include cycling, yoga, pilates, dancing, swimming, hiking, gardening, running, weight bearing and stretching. The key is to find something you will do every day without excuses and make habit number 3 non-negotiable.
4. SLEEP – If people truly understood the power of sleep and its ability to affect all aspects of your life and health, then maybe more people would sit up and take notice. Within the brain, sleep enriches our ability to learn, memorise and make logical decisions. It recalibrates our emotions, restocks our immune system, fine tunes our metabolism, and regulates our appetite. We literally heal while we sleep. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of our life, defining our wellness and longevity. Cellular ageing is accelerated due to lack of sleep and if there is one reason to get more shut eye, it would be the promise of a long, healthy life.
Begin by creating a bedroom setting that encourages good sleep habits, like block out curtains, a quality mattress, disconnecting from electronic devices at least an hour before bed, reducing alcohol and caffeine, a bubble bath, or invest in sleep meditation recordings. A bedtime ritual that becomes a necessary habit will be the basis for your new sleep routine.
5. LET GO OF STRESS – There are two types of stress, acute and chronic. Acute stress is short term and quite common in response to an immediate event, accident, deadline, or challenge. Hormones are released to help us deal with the situation quickly and find a solution. Chronic stress develops over a long period and is more harmful. When stress hormones do not return to a normal level, problems can occur in many body systems including cardiovascular, respiratory, sleep, immune and reproductive. In fact, chronic stress can affect every bodily function and leave people debilitated and unable to perform daily tasks. If being healthy is your goal, you must let go of stress. Some strategies include, reducing the triggers of stress, exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, reduce stimulants like caffeine and alcohol and get adequate sleep. Addressing the stress begins by setting realistic goals and expectations. Start by examining your values and how you wish to live your life. Once you place more value on your health than the dramas that make you sick, you will begin to see improvements in your response to stress and how it no longer has a place in your life.
6. DO WHAT YOU LOVE – Life is way too short to work in a job you hate. As children we have dreams of what we would be when we grow up and yet many people end up in middle age looking back in regret at where they are in life. Ask yourself the question,’ if you could do anything, what would it be?’ Once you ask this of yourself, your sub conscious mind will begin to look for answers. It is never too late to change paths and do what you love. People who fulfill their life purpose find that they never work a day in their life because what they do is integral to who they are. They are happier, healthier, and usually wealthier in more ways than we could imagine, so what’s stopping you from honouring the child within and doing what you love?
7. BODY AND CLEANING PRODUCTS – When you make the decision to live a healthier, holistic life, you cannot stop at your pantry and fridge. You must address the plethora of skin, body and cleaning products that fill your cupboards. Most are toxic, endocrine disruptors, meaning they mimic or interfere with hormonal systems and can contribute to cancerous tumours, birth defects, immune conditions, and chronic metabolic processes. When you clear the cupboards of these substances you will notice how easy it is to live without them and how one or two natural products can replace them all. Be selective in your skin and cleaning products or better still, make your own, using organic base products blended with essential oils. Not only will your skin and hair feel healthier, but your house will smell incredible, and your furry friends will thank you to.
8. ENVIRONMENTAL EXPOSURES – Acknowledging the steps we make to be healthy on the inside must be matched with what we are exposed to on the outside if we truly want to live as holistically as possible. This means addressing environmental hazards that increase our risk of cancer, heart disease, asthma, and many other illnesses. These hazards can be physical such as pollution, exposure to chemicals, contaminants, dangerous work conditions, pesticides, and electronic and digital waste. Performing an environmental check around where you live, and work can help you identify any changes you need to make in order to prevent further harm. The world is literally choking on digital pollution and our homes can be a primary exposure ground for harmful electronic waves, so doing a digital detox at home and minimising your dependence on screen time must also be part of our holistic makeover.
9. SOCIAL CONNECTIONS – Never has it been more important to stay connected and surround ourselves with people who uplift our spirit and fill our lives with love. We are social creatures and need social connections. This can come from family, friends, charities, social groups, churches, exercise buddies or even a stranger you strike up a conversation with on the street. In a world where it is all too common to feel isolated and alone, we must remember to be the one to reach out to others too and offer comfort and friendship to our neighbours, the elderly, the displaced and vulnerable. Friendship begins in your own backyard, your home, and your community. Reach out your hand of friendship to someone today and be the light in their darkness.
10. PRACTICE GRATITUDE – When everything around us can seem like it is falling apart, an important daily habit is to practice gratitude. Not only will this ground your emotions, but it will also remind you of all you have rather than focusing on what you don’t. Peace comes from within, and it is found in the quiet simple pleasures, like watching your children sleep, getting lost in a love song, spending time in nature, swimming in the ocean or watching the sunrise. The moments that take your breath away with wonder are the ones we need to practice more. Begin by writing a daily journal of what you are grateful for, read it out loud when you rise in the morning and before you lay your head on the pillow at night. By shifting your focus to do more of what brings you joy, you will soon find that your cup of happiness will be overflowing and that is something to be truly grateful for.
Written by Mona Hecke
Mona Hecke is a degree qualified Naturopath, nutrition specialist and health and wellness writer.
With over 20 years in the health industry, beginning with a focus on children and families, and a bestselling book ‘The Lunchbox Revolution’, Mona is now empowering women through education and conversation to take action and embrace change. Gut health, mindfulness, nutrition, hormones, and menopause are the topics that women want and need to know to create their healthy future.
Mona holds certifications in Lifestyle Coaching, Kinesiology, holistic herbal medicine, and nutrition.
A recognised leader in the health industry, Mona’s strong social media presence and passion for influencing change will continue to be a catalyst for health reform for the benefit of every Australian.