When we are asked about our current well-being, the answers can be very different. Not only from positive to negative, but what we take into consideration to make the judgement. The main focus tends to be on the physical aspect. Whether we are stressed or relaxed, whether we exercise or sleep enough or whether we eat healthy.
But a healthy body is only one component of three that that weave together to ensure an overall status of well-being. The physical factor is undeniably important, but only in combination with a good mindset and spirit will we actually feel well. I personally had to learn this over the last 2 years. Focusing on just one, did not get me to where I wanted to be. But more about that later. Back to the three pillars of well-being.
1. Healthy Body:
Most commonly we hear that for physical health we need: good nutrition, exercise & rest, and illness prevention.
"We are what we eat." The right nutrition will fuel our body. Eating processed and fake food may be filling and cheap-ish, but will lead to long-term health issues as these foods lack of nutrition. Therefore I try to eat whole foods whenever possible. No, not at Whole Foods Market but whole foods. Which means that the foods stay close to their natural state. I try to buy groceries that preferably don't even have a label or barcode as they are from the fresh department. Or products that have only a short list of ingredients on the packaging and I am able to understand what these ingredients are. If they cause a tongue twister pronouncing them, they are very likely not good for you nor me. In my personal opinion, we don't have to give up on our favorite foods. But if these are not good for me, I will reduce the portions and frequency of consuming them.
Our body is made to move. No wonder our body releases endorphins during and after physically challenging exercise. We may have to fight to overcome our inner bastard to start, but once we exercise the cocktail of feel-good hormones kicks in and we start feeling great. Regular exercise is very beneficial for the body and also for the mind. That doesn't necessarily have to be CrossFit or bootcamps. It can be 30min moderate exercise every day. One of the reasons I had started in June 2023 to have a 30min workout in the mornings. It kick-starts the body, gives a positive boost and I don't have to worry about it after work. I simply had to admit that exercise after a long day at work, got skipped way to often.
Resting is just as important as exercising, to ensure the inner balance. Our body recharges and heals while we sleep. Therefore an adequate amount of good sleep is crucial. If we don't get enough good sleep it affects our cognitive functions, mood and overall health. Once in energy saving mode due to lack of sleep, we will be just as efficient as our laptop or phone while in energy saving mode...aaaas sloooow aaaas theeee sloth iiiin Zootopia.
Make sure your body is and stays healthy. Regular checkups can prevent or ensure that any possible illnesses get diagnosed ahead of time. Dental checkups & cleanings, physical exams & blood work, eye exams,... Especially blood work I find super interesting, as it can show in numbers how well our life style and nutrition really is. It also gives us indications on what to work on to improve.
2. Healthy Mind:
Being physically fit, fueled with the greatest nutrition, recharged with hours of sleep, does not mean that our mind is in the right place. In a fast paced and highly critical society, we can easily get stressed out. That can be work, relationships, family and friends, status, our personal appearance and achievements,...
Sleep, sleep, sleep. 'Our body recharges and heals while we sleep.' Sounds familiar? Correct, this was also a point under 'Healthy Body'. Just like the body our mind needs to recharge, process our day and heal. That means no distractions like TV or social media, but instead a long night of restful undisturbed sleep.
We also need to exercise our mind just like we exercise our muscles. Challenge our mind by learning something new. That can be a new language or a new skill, a new recipe, visit new places, start new projects, read books,...
Listen to your inner voice or also called inner soundtrack. Being mindful about how we speak about ourselves. Healthy criticism is good, but if our voice turns out to be our worst enemy we need to get active and change that around. That can be done with positive self-talk techniques or by seeking help. Asking for help is never a sign of weakness but actually of strength. So, don't hesitate. It can be a friend, family or someone professional to get an unbiased and professional opinion. Sometimes we can get lost in our head. Someone else can bring light into the dark and show a path out of the chaos, that very likely was always there but we were looking in different directions. If you are interested in reading more about positive self-talk, I can recommend the book "Coffee Self-Talk" by Kristen Helmstetter as a start. It is fun to read and gives a good insight about what positive self-talk can mean for our body, mind and soul and how we can easily implement her technique by only investing 5min each day. Furthermore I recommend "Good morning, I love you" by Shauna Shapiro.
3. Healthy Soul:
This component is very subjective to each and every person. What feeds my soul, doesn't necessarily feed yours. Just like learning languages isn't an exercise I would choose to challenge my mind. Instead I would rather solve equations. You may be the exact opposite. But back to the soul... A healthy soul helps us find peace and purpose in our life.
Spend time in nature. Seeing greenery and the blue sky has a calming and uplifting effect. A walk through nature grounds us, is an antidote for stress and therewith can lower blood pressure, calm the nervous system, reduce anxiety, and improve our mood. Sometimes simply seeing a picture of plants can have a calming effect on our mind. That is why we tend to find nature photography in doctor offices. (Not kidding, I didn't believe it until my next doc visit came up and there they were. Real plants in the waiting area and nature photography everywhere.) That is one of the reasons I myself chose nature motives for my motivational backgrounds. It lifts my mood to see them amidst the office tasks at the office and at home.
Find something that lights your fire...floats your boat... let's you forget about your day and charges your soul. For some that is music, for others it is volunteering, creating art or crafting, or maybe religion.
Meet people, and make connections. This comes from someone that is rather shy and is a little socially awkward. Therefore bare with me. This is not about going to social networking events but rather about finding your people to connect with. It's not about quantity but quality. Maybe you don't like to talk, but instead find a group of people that shares a common interest, like bowling, card games, or maybe crocheting. Human connection is important for the soul and can be easily forgotten in a world in which work from home, social media friends and even zoom calls with professionals become more and more normal. It is just not quite the same as a real face-to-face interaction.
On a personal note:
The emphasis on the connection between body, mind, and soul is often discussed, yet its profound lesson resonates most through personal encounters.
Almost three years ago, I got into car accident. Someone took my right of way, which lead to a frontal collision with almost 50mph. Luckily everyone walked away from the scene without broken bones, but both cars were totaled. The medical verdict was clear: Physical therapy was imperative for my body's recovery.
Devoting myself diligently to the prescribed exercises, I encountered an odd sensation as my range of motion decreased despite no visible fractures. The reality struck hard—my upper back had borne the brunt of the impact, leading to whiplash-related damage. Simple actions like certain yoga poses and even daily tasks such as putting on socks became daunting challenges. As someone in their early 30s, this reality was difficult to accept.
Already prior to the accident, I was going through a rough mental patch. The physical struggle only compounded my distress. But weeks into the procedures and exercises with the Physical Therapist, I didn't see big improvements. She was a great help mentally though and just kept me going. Understood how this was a process and took time, she reminded me to be patient and to trust the process. But I didn't want to quite accept that. Therefore I tormented myself mentally. Although my condition didn't deteriorate further, I didn't get better either. Despite reassurances from those around me that I appeared fine, internally, I felt far from it. The back pain wasn't visible to them, but it impacted every moment of my life at that point.
Eventually I realized what was going on. Being in a dark place mentally, acted as a barrier to physical recovery. It was time for a shift. In order to do so, I started my journey of learning about general well-being, mental health, self-love through for example mindfulness, realistic optimism, yoga practice…to find my happiness and health again. That is how I started my Instagram account BeYou_BeeHappy. Through the social platform, I started hearing of people around me and their stories and it helped tremendously. I wasn't alone. I felt heard. I felt understood.
Bit by bit my body started healing. No, it wasn't a magical recovery within a few days or weeks. It still demanded relentless patience. Post Physical Therapy, I integrated Chiropractic sessions. Reflecting back, finding the right Chiropractor from the outset might have expedited the process. The initial practitioner interacted as if I was simply a number. He went through his routines without personalized care, cracked my back and had me get deep muscle massages and that was it. After many weeks, I discontinued the sessions due to negligible progress.
At home, I continued my physical therapy exercises though and also regular yoga sessions, that I had implemented into my life. Then a friend recommended another Chiropractor and Mrs. Olivia Tucker with Lux Chiropractic changed my life. She didn't see me as a number but a human being, diagnosed and checked me head to toe, asked questions to understand who I was, where I came from, what my everyday life is, and more. And the best of all? Going there was a bliss. We always talked, shared, laughed... I learned so much about me, how the body& mind works, and left feeling like a better person. Through the conversations and checks with her, we found out that some of the previous exercises actually were counterproductive and we were able to correct them. This revelation was a game-changer!
Through this 1.5-year journey, I learned so much about my own body& mind and more importantly how to listen and understand. Understanding how crucial it is to hear our body's signals proved transformative. Your body communicates its needs; we merely need to listen.
How the soul factor played a role in it? That became my subsequent focus. Amidst the pursuit of physical and mental well-being, I sought to reignite the spark in my life. Beyond work and daily routines, I craved something refreshing. Though I started to move normally, I didn't feel quite alive yet.
So this year I jumped out of my comfort zone and created my own business and signed up for events along with a friend. Suddenly my studies about self-empowerment and creativity had an outlet. I was able to design and craft while incorporating my know-how and my photography. Naturally, the journey had its challenges, yet that's precisely what keeps it exhilarating and energetic. I can't wait to see what else this journey will bring.
Maintaining physical well-being remains a priority, alongside nurturing mental health. However, integrating the third element—soulful pursuits—has completed the puzzle.
By dedicating time and attention to all three facets, I've attained an overall wellness, that I long hoped to achieve again.
Join the Conversation!
I invite you to share your experiences or thoughts on your own journey towards holistic wellness. Have you encountered similar challenges or found unique methods that have transformed your well-being? Feel free to reach out, ask questions, or share your story.
Let's continue to support each other on this path to a healthier, happier life.✨ As everyone's journey is very different, it can quickly feel isolating. But you are never alone and things will get better. Believe in yourself and keep going. One step at a time. #HolisticWellness #BodyMindSoul #JourneyToHealth #SelfCare #WellnessCommunity #MindBodySoul #ListenToYourBody #LearningToUnderstand #MyWellnessJourney #Recovery #StepbyStep #NeverAlone