I spent a lot of time last year reading books, perusing blogs, and listening to podcasts. It seemed that everywhere I turned I was presented with the same idea. Over and over again.
Holistic Health – body – mind – spirit
I have tried to *fix* each part of my life separately over the years but it never works. That is because I am part of a complex system, uniquely created to live in this space and time. My body, mind, and spirit must work together. If one part (usually my body) is unhealthy, then the whole system (me) doesn’t function as well as it could.
I wish I was clever with words or had some unique idea about all of this. Like I said, it seems to be everywhere. Some key books that contributed to my journey last year are:
- Discerning the Voice Of God by Priscilla Shirer
- It Starts With Food:Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig
- The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Cron
- Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
- Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist
- Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford
- The More Of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker
As always, just because I learned something doesn’t mean that it was something that I put into practice right away. I struggle with self-control and have little accountability. However, I continued to take baby steps towards the life I want. I ate more vegetables and went to bed earlier. I focused on being present and watched less television. I spent more time outside. I listened to sermons and worshiped even when I didn’t attend church services. I made my extended family and close friends a priority. I began to regularly practice self-care.
Baby steps are great. They are more sustainable than trying to shift your entire life all at once. However, it isn’t always very gratifying and sometimes it is hard to feel/see the changes. But when I pay attention, I do notice the difference.
Physical Health – When I eat healthier, I feel better. I did a detox and Whole 30 in 2018. It was miserable and I noticed very few reactions when I added foods back (Doritos and American cheese aren’t good for anyone). However, when I eat my vegetables and consume less junk food, I do feel better. I try to stay hydrated. Water and herbal tea are my friends. Everyone needs to sleep more. I have been trying to give myself an 8-hour sleep “opportunity” each night. For the first time in my life I have made sleep a priority – it is amazing how much better you feel when you are rested. I try to get physical activity every day and get to the gym or hike at least 3 days a week. I haven’t been great at this and it is a major goal of mine for 2019. In addition to all the normal junk that comes with aging, I have struggled with fibromyalgia for the past decade and need to take more steps to keep my energy levels up and my pain levels down. That includes Epsom salt baths, massage, and regular visits to my chiropractor. The biggest struggle for me is to remember that I matter and that I need to take care of my body. This is the only one I get and I want to be able live the life I want as I get older. That means I need to focus on the above and STOP feeling guilty when I do.
Mental Health – Sleep and exercise help here too. So does taking an anti-depressant. Community is also important, when I feel lonely I get sad. I started a gratitude journal. On most days I list 10 things I am grateful for. Grace. I am not perfect, and neither are the people around me. I have to forgive (even myself) and move on. Life is short. Focus on the positive. Find balance between work/play. De-stress (hike, baths, exercise, cooking, whatever helps – sometimes that means a glass of wine). For me, minimizing the material objects (clutter) in my space has helped me a lot.
Spiritual Health – This is maybe the easiest category for me. In 2012 I had a number of experiences that brought me closer to God and realigned my priorities. Without God, I am nothing. For years I wondered why I struggled so much to make the changes to my “outside” that had already been done on the “inside”. Holistic Health is my answer. It all plays a part. Of course I need to continue to try to spend more time in prayer and read my bible more diligently. This is the one area where it is all about relationship and for me, that is where I am happiest. The one thing I lack is a church community, I don’t see that changing any time soon so I will have to continue to pursue things on my own.
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26