You’re all familiar with the expression, “hit the ground running.” Well, if I were to compare the initial stages of my life to that saying, it would be more like, “hit the ground. Period.” You see, I used to be an addict.
My addiction started all too early. At age 9 I had my first drunk experience. I liked it so much that I didn’t stop drinking, and by age 13 I found myself craving more. Hard drugs quickly became part of my life, and I was abusing those too. The famous brick wall hit me about a decade later when I was thrown in jail for two years on drug-related charges.
Doing time was difficult for me. Not because of all the typical situations you see in movies, but because I was forced to kick my drug and alcohol habit cold turkey and go through withdrawal in a cell. The endless sleepless nights made me consider taking my own life more than once.
Once I got out, I found the help I needed through attending a rehab clinic. The support I got from my friends, family and the staff at the center pushed me to reach sobriety. With a second chance at life dealt with me and a blank slate, I was totally clueless.
It was kind of overwhelming, to be honest. I had dreamt of that sober moment for so long, and it was finally here. Ironically, I didn’t know what to do with it. Desperate for a helping hand, I got in touch with my sponsor. He explained to me that the world was my oyster and that I should focus on countering all the negative things I did to my body with positive ones. Enter holistic living.
When I first heard the term, I thought I was in for some kind of Amish lifestyle change. According to AllHealthCare,
“Holistic medicine, or ‘holistic health’, is a belief that both the physical and mental aspects of life are closely connected and factor into the overall health and wellness of a person. Holistic health is usually associated with the topic of alternative medicine, but it is becoming more mainstream in this day and age.”
Essentially, when you live a holistic lifestyle, you have to think of your mind, body, and soul as one whole. Illnesses and negative emotions are analyzed by determining their origin and what may be causing them. Traditional medicine, on the other hand, only treats the symptoms.
There are many practices that constitute holistic medicine. Acupuncture, meditation, yoga, and massage therapy. While all of those sounds like interesting activities to partake in, your schedule may not allow you to dedicate the time they require. Regardless, you have to start somewhere. Here are 5 holistic tips that are easy to incorporate into your life, and to get you started:
Mindfulness is the art of embracing the present moment, and being aware of the beautiful transient instants in life. Sometimes the world can be so full of noise that we need to step back and take a deep breath. Mindfulness does that, and its benefits are plenty. It has been proven to improve physical and mental health, as well as general well-being.
Mindfulness is quite easy to integrate into your life. You notice the moment and embrace it. From smells to emotions and bodily sensations, it’s about appreciating the present. There’s even mindful eating, which focuses on the appreciation of food!
We go to sleep with our phones by our sides, and we wake up to text messages. Every house has a television. Facebook and Instagram are everywhere. The news is constantly blaring on the radio.
With such a massive sensory assault on a daily basis, it’s rare to take a moment and stare at a mountain or watch a sunset. By disconnecting, or unplugging, you’re putting yourself in touch with nature again and valuing relationships. It doesn’t have to be permanent, one or two days a week are fine! Play some sports, go on a hike, or take a trip.
I noticed the negative effects of social media and the internet during my time in Cuba. Over there internet is not very common, as most people have to go to designated areas such as hotels and public parks to connect. Being able to spend an entire day without checking Facebook messages felt almost surreal. I didn’t miss waiting for someone sitting across from me to finish typing their text.
Take Up A New Hobby
Stress is one of the major contributors to relapse in recovering addicts. As it turns out, taking up a hobby has been proven to help manage stress. Not only that, but it can allow you to build relationships with people, improve overall health, and bring you joy.
For me, my hobby was playing basketball. I developed a passion for it and now I play it four times a week with friends. By taking up the sport, I combined the holistic effects of disconnecting with the joy of a new hobby, as well as exercise. Furthermore, I’ve made many new friends and bonded with existing ones.
Improve Your Diet
Time for the dreaded diet change. I’m talking about the removal of all soft drinks, junk food, and especially no drugs or alcohol. Okay, alcohol in moderate amounts. Just don’t let it become abuse like I did. Drinking a lot of water is also important. The physical effects of dehydration such as dry lips actually appear after the body has been dehydrated for some time. Having said that, drinking water throughout the day is key.
If you’re in need of some guidance, you could look into holistic diets. They are aimed at ensuring that your body has a balanced level of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients for healthy living. No processed foods, lots of fruits and vegetables, and the implementation of superfoods. Diet changes are easy to follow; it all comes down to buying different products when you’re shopping. Also, resisting the urge to order a pizza for your movie night.
Embrace Alone Time
I’m not sure where I heard this, but it stuck with me: “being alone doesn’t mean being lonely.” That’s especially true when it comes to alone time. You’re not an outcast if you like to be alone, in fact, it’s an excellent habit to have if you’re going for a holistic lifestyle. While bonding with others is important, so is the time you take for yourself.
Studies show that spending alone time allows your brain to unwind and relax. It also helps with concentration and productivity, as well as time for introspection. The benefits of alone time are well-researched.
Those are my 5 easy tips for you to start your journey towards holistic living. It’s important to establish clear goals as part of your plan. You can’t simply wake up one day and change all your habits immediately, or you’re doomed to fail. Take the time necessary to build your routine and plan. Holistic living can be achieved with baby steps. Once you have a holistic lifestyle, you’ll feel the benefits. I know I did.
Do you have any other tips for implementing a holistic lifestyle? Let us know in the comments!