You may have heard the term “holistic” before. Taking care of health problems holistically has become more mainstream as time has gone by, and with good reason. Rather than tackling one small issue at a time, it tries to identify a larger scale issue. It looks at the root cause of a problem instead of trying to alleviate all the separate symptoms of the problem. This is how we’re going to look at making things better for your mental, emotional, and physical health.
This one is especially difficult for me because of my ADD. Sitting still for any period is awful. I’m a horrible road trip companion as well. But mindfulness isn’t only about sitting still and meditating. It’s about pulling yourself away from all the bustle of life and take a moment to check in with yourself mentally, sometimes even emotionally and physically, too. It’s about focusing on the now and slowing down to meet it.
My way of practicing mindfulness is probably different than most people’s — I write. I have a composition notebook set to the side specifically for short writing exercises. I start with a topic, set a time for 15 minutes, and go. I have a new topic each and every day and don’t ever go back and reread it. It’s just a way to get myself moving and to recenter myself to tackle the day ahead. Find something you like that brings you to the single moment you’re standing in and do that.
Learn to listen to your body
Mindfulness can be one way to slow down enough to listen to your body, but I learned to do it a few ways. If your body is resisting something, you need to find out why. Are you nervously tapping your foot? That can tend to cause muscle aches and pains or other stress-related maladies and be a signal for impatience, anxiety, and nervousness.
Your body’s physical reactions can shed some light on emotional and mental blockages, so listen to them. If the cause is something that you can avoid, stop doing it. If you can’t, find a way to cope. Yoga, meditation, even some light exercise can be enough to help, if not eliminate the unnecessary pain altogether.
Eating well is also probably the single best thing that you can do for your body. Eating poorly can cause fogginess, exhaustion, inability to focus, mood swings, and insomnia, just to name a few things. I find that if you think of listening as an active response measure, eating well is a preventative measure.
Organization is the key to a decluttered mind. I promise I’m not nearly as crazy as I sound. One of the first things that I learned to do to cope with my anxiety and ADD was to organize the space around me. This would make it easier to assess my mental state. If my surroundings started to reflect an incoherent and cluttered space, my emotional state wouldn’t be far behind. I began using this metric to track all the stressors in my life.
It might seem like a daunting task, but take the time to organize your space. You should consider doing this for your workspace as well, especially if you spend most of your time in your office. Watch how much easier things become when you know that you can find something the moment that you need it. Tasks become less daunting, and the frustration that can accumulate daily will melt away.
Self-care is critical to your mental health. It can make the difference between you feeling like an actual person, deserving of love and respect and becoming someone who thinks that they deserve all the crappy things that happen to them. This single step right here is what brought me to the realization that I was in a terrible relationship and that I deserved far better.
As a mother of three, I could get the gold medal in prioritizing everyone else in the world before myself. I can become so run down that I forget I’m a person sometimes. It was when I started forcing myself to do basic things, like shower first thing in the morning, wash my face, make some tea, and journal in the morning before getting to anyone else that I actually began to feel better. I was happier in a big way overall.
When you find that things are beginning to feel suffocating, it’s time to take a step back and to reassess how you’re moving through your life. Take a look at the big picture. Try a few of these tips out. They may seem silly, but if any one of these things helps to ease the strain, it was worth it. Even if you only try one or two, it’s still a step in the right direction. And that’s how you get to a place where you’re feeling better. One step at a time.
If you’re having persistent feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, and/or depression, reach out to a doctor for help. This is the most critical and essential advice I can give you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Don’t think you have to go through this alone.