I’m excited to be back behind the keyboard today. It’s been a while since I’ve done a rather conversational post – and I’ll be honest with you, my creativity well runs a little dry when stress levels are high in my life. One thing I’ve struggled with for the greater part of my young adult/adult life is stress, and as a result, anxiety.
My family has a history of anxiety, so this isn’t a new concept for me. However, in the last six months, I’ve found it rather difficult to manage stress without wanting to withdraw into hermit-like tendencies. I quickly realized that this wasn’t a way in which I wanted to continue living my life. My career is very fast-paced, and I love it because of that. I love being on the go. But I was burning out.
I needed a stress reliever, and a way to manage the anxiety that came along with the stress of constantly wanting to do more, be more and achieve more.
HOLISTIC HEALTH – A NEW APPROACH TO HEALING
Upon returning from London in June, I decided that I wanted to begin on a holistic health journey. There were many pain points in my life then – I was sad about leaving the person that sets my heart on fire, my residual acne was consistently worsening, my digestion was off, and don’t even get me started about the jetlag.
As I’m sure most of you can relate, no matter what your pain points are – they can be a massive source of stress in your life. Mine most certainly. In order to combat this newfound added stress, I began to research the benefits of yoga, acupuncture and holistic health practices. I figured; I’ve enjoyed yoga classes in the past – so this might just be what a missing piece of my life could be…right?
ODDLY ENOUGH, I WAS RIGHT…
What I didn’t realize was just how accurate that statement would be. A massive part of my holistic health journey has been through yoga. Previously, I had done HIIT (high intensity interval training) for my fitness, with the overall goal of stress relief and staying in shape. However, I found that by making a shift to yoga – overall wellness and positive mindset was a integral part of each practice. Some use it as a form of spirituality – which I totally get now – others use it for fitness, or as a more relaxing form of fitness.
Personally, I’ve found that through practicing yoga, I’ve gained a new perspective on my mental wellness. I’ve known for years that stress is a poison to my creativity and to my work – but I never knew how to actively try and eliminate it from my life. Part of my holistic health journey has been trying to live a less high-strung lifestyle.
Now, I know that this isn’t for everyone. Maybe you’re not entirely sold on the benefits of yoga, or perhaps you’re in the mind space of thinking it’s a bundle of bunk. I’ve been there – I entered into this new holistic health path with a bit of skepticism. Knowing that likely my stress and anxiety would not disappear overnight, or even in the next week for that matter. However, I noticed that the more I set time aside to focus on my breathing, a specific mantra for a given day or even just practicing with positivity – I really started to feel better. Lighter, even.
YOGA AND WELLNESS
There are so many proven benefits to practicing yoga – from muscle toning and weight loss, to increased flexibility and better posture. But the key reason as to why I decided to explore yoga more in-depth as part of a holistic health practice had to do with mental and physical wellness.
I’ve been adopting the mindset of “five minutes a day is better than an hour once a week”. Even if you lead a busy lifestyle, it’s possible to take some time away for yourself and to focus on your own well-being. In my case, a major inhibition to my health was the level of my stress hormone – otherwise known as cortisol. I’m one of the people that can instantly tell when something is off in my body. Partially, this can be attributed to playing sports for most of my life, as you become very aware of your body, how it feels and how to take care of it. Stress is one of the emotions that I’ve noticed, makes me feel very off my game. The slump starts, fatigue increases, immunity decreases – and it all boiled down to how I managed the stress in my life.
This holistic health practice began to literally bring me back to life. My energy started returning, I felt like I could do more throughout my day, my nervous system calmed – and as a result, my stress and anxiety seemed to dissipate.
IT’S NOT ALL SUNNY DAYS
There is an important aspect here that needs to be talked about – both in this post, but also in respects to mental health as a whole. You won’t feel better overnight. Mental wellness and mental health don’t have “good day” and “bad day” buttons. It’s not an instant fix.
In my case, I practice yoga every single day. Depending on the type of stress that is currently present in my life or how my day is going – that decides the type of practice that I want to have, and if it’s more yin or yang focused. The thing is, not all days will be sunny and blue skies. It’s an unrealistic expectation – especially when you consider the different emotions that are felt throughout the day.
When I’m focused on releasing any stress I’ve felt throughout the day, I’m very specific about how I want to let it go. I don’t deny it exists. Instead, I embrace it. Embracing the darkness that you feel is part of any and all holistic health and mental wellness journeys. That being said, not everyone’s darkness is the same. In fact, it’s often quite different. For example, what brings light and joy into your life may be what brings darkness to someone else’s.
DAY 60 – CHECKING IN
It’s day 60 of my holistic health journey, and I want to check in with my body, my mind and my stress levels. How have they changed? What remains the same? Are there any changes that I haven’t seen yet that I’d like to see made? How has my perspective changed?
These are all questions I used to do a “full body scan”, so to speak. I’ll give you the run-down. In the last 60 days of shifting my mindset and focus to a holistic health base, I feel more calm than I ever have before. It hasn’t always been stress-free though. There were about two weeks in the middle where I’d had more anxiety attacks in those fourteen days than I’d had in the previous two years. Part of this was due to external stress and mismanagement of it, though.
My posture has become so much better, as has my physical strength. Yoga is much more of a workout than people give it credit for – both mentally and physically. Physically, I’ve noticed more muscle tone and an overall feeling of strength. My flexibility has greatly improved, and a personally gratifying result – I’m able to touch my toes for the first time in my life. Total confidence booster for the 5’10” giraffe gal.
Mentally, I’m able to relax both body and mind by focusing on my breathing. I never was able to do that before. I’ve found a calmer source of my emotions – a big change for an internal hothead like me – and overall, a decrease in anxiety-producing stress. I don’t know if it’s a lack thereof or better management of it. But either way, I’m enjoying that it doesn’t have as strong a hold over me as it used to.
HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED A SHIFT TO HOLISTIC HEALTH PRACTICES?
I’ve found that as I’ve integrated more holistic health practices into my daily routine, I’ve had a more positive outlook overall. Now, I’m not a doctor, certified yoga instructor or holistic health professional – so don’t take anything in this post as true and proper medical advice. You should always talk to your doctor before integrating anything into your healthcare regime.
What I can say though, is that from a mental and physical perspective, integrating yoga and other certain holistic health practices into my life has made a very positive change. And I’m looking forward to continuing on with my journey, and to updating you all along the way.
Would you ever try yoga? Have you already? What did you think? Until next, xoxo.