The holistic approach for overcoming stress.
Ongoing stress is directly related to a whopping 70% of illness and disease. That’s pretty eye-opening.
Occasional stress and negativity is a part of life that we must deal with. Sometimes there is no way around it. The trick is not to let it take over our lives.
Everything you do in pursuit of holistic living is going to help reduce stress on your body and mind. The tips outlined here will introduce some key habits and practices to boost your overall health and help you feel less stress in your life.
What is self care and why is it so important to your health?
Real self care, which is at the center of holistic living, is the foundation of a healthy body and healthy life. Holistic self care is not all spa days and mani-pedis.
Self care means to put your true needs at the top of the list. I know so many people who are so busy running around taking care of business, home, and family that they have virtually no time for themselves. I see them running themselves ragged. They feel there is no way out. It’s impossible to keep up this pace forever, and will eventually lead to poor health.
Real self care is much more involved than having a day off here and there. It has the potential to have a profound effect on your health and life, and the way you view the world around you.
Are you ready to reduce the toxic stress in your life? Fabulous. Let’s go!
Dangers of Stress
Stress affects the whole body. Adrenaline surges, blood pressure elevates, and heartbeat accelerates. Digestion slows or stops. Fats and sugars are released from stores in the body, cholesterol levels rise, and the composition of blood changes, making it more prone to clotting. This increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.
But, unfortunately, that’s not all.
Stress also triggers the release of cortisol, which regulates carbohydrate metabolism and blood pressure. It ages brain cells and builds fat around the body’s midsection. It is associated with disorders such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, periodontal disease, and cardiovascular disease.
Anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are some of the more serious emotional manifestations of stress. They are often a result of an event that the individual was unable to deal with at the time.¹
If stress is not dealt with properly and diffused, health will further decline, causing more serious illness. I know this is much easier said than done, but well worth the effort.
Before we get into the holistic living habits for overcoming stress, download the 17 Self Care Habits of Naturally Healthy Women to help you navigate a healthier lifestyle and get the stress monkey off your back. It’s free!
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Holistic Living Habits for Overcoming Stress
1. Get Enough Activity and Movement
With so many people working sedentary jobs, it’s difficult to get enough activity and exercise to keep our bodies healthy and fit. I’m not suggesting that you spend hours working out, as it is not necessary in order to have a healthy body. Actually, I think some workout routines are rather excessive and, in the end, unhealthy.
What does matter is that you are active throughout the day, every day. Taking small steps toward more activity really add up. For instance taking the stairs instead of the elevator, if you work a desk job get up every hour and walk around for 2 or 3 minutes, take a walk at lunchtime or after dinner, take up gardening, or go for a leisurely bike ride.
These mini bouts of activity will go a long way toward making you feel more awake and alert throughout the day. This will in turn make you feel more like getting more activity.
Additionally, a few times weekly, get the right kind of exercise that will do the most for your body in the least amount of time. Keep that in mind, I’ll explain all about this in a moment.
First, let’s take a look at the body’s most important detoxification system, the Lymphatic System.
The Lymphatic System
The lymphatic system is an important part of immunity. It is the body’s largest circulatory system, and necessary for proper and effective detoxification.
This system is responsible for filtering out dangerous waste products and toxins. When the lymphatic system is clogged, your body isn’t able to dispose of harmful substances.
• Rings get tight on fingers
The lymphatic system, without a doubt, is one of the most important systems of the body. It is crucial, in order to maintain good overall health, to keep this system flowing freely.
Most people do have a clogged lymphatic system to some degree. Causes can include years of inactivity, dehydration, processed foods, stress, and digestive problems.
Learn to listen to your body and its symptoms.
Exercise to Decongest the Lymphatic System
One of the best ways to decongest the lymphatic system is to use a rebounder, or mini trampoline.
A great rebounder for women, and one that I have and love is the JumpSport 370 Pro Fitness Trampoline.
The lymphatic system works by using muscle contraction, gravity, and body movement. Bouncing on a trampoline creates the perfect interaction of this combination, and this is why it is a suitable way to stimulate the lymphatic system and keep you healthy.
Maximizing the lymph flow throughout your body is a vital process. When you’re healthy, bouncing helps protect your physical well-being. Without enough activity to stimulate lymph flow, your body can become a breeding ground for waste that can make you sick. Rebounding for a small amount of time each day can help your body fight allergies, heart disease, chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, arthritis, headaches, and bacterial infections.³
Aside from the lymphatic system benefits of a mini trampoline, it is a very effective low impact cardiovascular exercise that will tone and firm your body.
2. Eat Healthy Whole Foods
There’s a good chance, if you visit my blog very often (and I hope you do!), you’ll see that I often talk about the benefits of healthy eating and the ill effects of unhealthy eating habits. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Due to depleted soil, pesticides, herbicides, and the like, we are living in a time where most conventional and mainstream foods are extremely toxic. Most food companies are sadly more concerned with profits than they are with the health of their customers.
We have to be really careful when choosing the foods we will eat. At first, some of them seem almost healthy.
But are they? Not always.
Conventionally Grown Produce
Take conventionally grown berries, celery, apples or leafy greens, for instance. These foods are considered to be on the list of most pesticide-ridden foods on the market, known as the Dirty Dozen. There are 12 foods on this list, as outlined below.
As stated on Prevention in March 2019, an annual report from the Environmental Working Group breaks down the top pesticide-laden produce, known as the Dirty Dozen, to help us make wise decisions when it comes to our veggies.
They found that strawberries topped the list with the most pesticide residue for the fourth year in a row, containing an average of 7.8 different pesticides per sample, according to EWG’s research.
For this report, the EWG tested 41,000 food samples for pesticides after they had been prepared to be eaten, so this meant they had been thoroughly washed and, when applicable, peeled.
Needless to say, this is a very important thing to keep in mind when doing grocery shopping for you and your family. It is always best to get local, organic produce from a farmers market if that is available to you. Another option is to join an organic CSA (community supported agriculture) where all the food you get is grown by local farmers. Or, if you have the space you can grow your own garden.
Organic is a little more expensive sometimes, depending on where you live, but it’s worth it. Pesticides are dangerous, and can lead to all manner of health complications. Please don’t put a price tag on your health.
By referencing this list I’ve created, based on the EWG website, you’ll know which conventional fruits and vegetables to avoid if at all possible.
Organically Grown Foods
While regulations vary from country to country, in the U.S., organic crops must be grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, bioengineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, and sewage sludge-based fertilizers.
They are grown with natural fertilizers, like manure and compost. Weeds are controlled naturally with crop rotation, weeding, mulching and tilling.
Pests are controlled using natural methods (birds, insects, traps), and naturally derived pesticides.⁴
These are the best foods for a healthy body. Organic farming is much better for the environment also, as its practices reduce pollution, conserve water, reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility and use less energy.
3. Use Healthy Personal Care Products
As you work toward a healthier non-toxic lifestyle and diet, it is extremely important that you don’t use harmful personal care products that will cancel out all your hard work thus far.
Conventional Personal Care Products
Personal hygiene products like skin care, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes, and deodorants are all full of chemicals and toxins. Prominent among the toxic ingredients include dyes, chemicals, allergens, and irritants.
Take conventional deodorants and antiperspirants, for example. They contain aluminum and talc. Aluminum is a chemical salt with absorbent and disinfectant properties. It is a known carcinogen that can cause impaired kidney function, bone disease, and tissue damage.
Talc is a mineral that is widely used in talcum powder, antacids, garden pesticides, deodorants, and baby powder. It is easily carried in the air like dust and may get into the lungs. Users have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
Organic and Natural Personal Care Products
Even many “organic” skin care products contain harsh and unacceptable ingredients. These products are marketed in such a way that lead people to believe they are safe. “Natural” does not mean organic or safe — there are regulations or industry standards for products labeled as such.
As a result, manufacturers often place a “natural” label on heavily processed products. Given the lack of regulations, you cannot be sure that companies manufacture products according to their labels.
We use many personal care products on any given day. Can you imagine what would happen if we only used products containing ingredients like the ones I’ve mentioned? It all adds up.
The products we use are nourishment for our skin and ultimately our bodies; they have the ability to either hurt or help our health and well-being.
So…what can you do?
Educate yourself. Research and be proactive. Read labels — you should be able to easily read and understand it. Be a detective. Use products that contain few ingredients with only safe and mild preservatives. Use only what you know to be safe.
This is your health we’re talking about, and something you don’t want to leave to chance.
Safe and Healthy Body Products
As a holistic health coach, natural skin care formulator and longtime advocate of healthy body products, I have done and continue to do my homework on safe and effective body products.
Here are some recommendations for a few select products that I love:
Organic Hair Shampoo and Conditioner
Maui Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner – Heal & Hydrate Shea Butter is very gentle with a wonderful natural scent. This company has several different varieties of shampoo and conditioner, as well as many other hair products. Another great thing is that they don’t test on animals! Win Win.
Natural Hair Color
Naturtint Permanent Hair Colorant is the best natural hair color I’ve found. Naturtint® does not contain parabens, silicones, paraffin, mineral oils, heavy metals, artificial fragrances, SLS, or formaldehyde derivatives. Also, it is not tested on animals. The color looks beautiful and natural, and is very long lasting. It does not have a strong odor like conventional hair color.
Himalaya Neem and Pomegranate Toothpaste is free of fluoride, triclosan, and SLS. It has a very pleasant taste and leaves my teeth feeling smooth and clean. Neem is also very good for your oral health.
Dental Herb Company Tooth & Gums Tonic contains essential oil and organically grown herbs. Alcohol free and GMO free. I use a very small amount after I brush, and it leaves my mouth and gums feeling refreshed and invigorated. Very nice!
Nimbus® Microfine® Toothbrush is a very soft and gentle flossing toothbrush. It allows you to clean hard to reach areas effectively. I am someone who tends to brush too hard, and this toothbrush keeps me from doing that.
Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Bar Soap is made with organic oils and only all natural vegan ingredients. It is gentle and effective without added chelating agents, dyes, whiteners, or synthetic fragrances. According to Dr. Bronner’s website, the bar soap contains palm oil that is produced ethically from sustainably-harvested palm fruits in Ghana’s Eastern Region.
Underarmed Active Botanical Luxury Deodorant is aluminum free natural deodorant, made with organic ingredients and pure essential oils. *Though I have not personally used this deodorant yet, I am buying some as soon as I finish using what I have. It got great reviews!*
4. Dry Body Brushing
Your skin is the largest organ in your body. It has the ability to eliminate as much as one fourth of the total toxins that your body filters out.
To maximize skin’s ability to do this, it is important to pave the way, so to speak.
The way to do this: dry body brushing.
What is dry body brushing?
Dry body brushing is a centuries old method of skin exfoliation. It is a treatment that you can do at home with a good quality dry body brush. This one I am recommending is made with soft sisal fibers and is very easy and effective to use.
• Exfoliates the skin
• Smoothes skin’s texture
• Faster elimination of toxins
• Improved blood flow and circulation
• Reduces appearance of cellulite
• Accelerated lymphatic flow
• Cell regeneration
How to use a dry body brush
There is a special technique to using a dry body brush.
It is important to always use long, sweeping strokes toward the heart. Start with the bottoms of your feet, then the tops, moving up to your calves, thighs, bottom, back and stomach, then arms and lastly the chest. Remember to always brush toward the heart.
Depending on the sensitivity of your skin and the abrasiveness of your brush, determine whether it is more comfortable to use softer or harder strokes. Don’t brush too hard! I have a brush like the one I recommended above, and since it is soft and easy to grip, I can bear down pretty hard. It feels so good and invigorating!
Frequency should be three to five times a week, before showering or bathing. Be sure to dry brush your whole body except for your face, neck, and private parts.
5. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is the feeling of being grateful for what is valuable and meaningful to oneself. It represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. The benefits of gratitude deeply affect one’s life in very positive ways.
Benefits of Gratitude
Acknowledging the many blessings in my life and all the beauty that surrounds me every day makes me feel so good. Taking time each day to simply be thankful for what we have helps me to focus on what is right and good about my life. Problems that come up seem less significant. I feel more positive and appreciative of my life.
Gratitude is the key to bringing more good things and experiences into your life. Personally speaking, I know this to be absolutely true. Genuine appreciation and thankfulness for everything you have naturally promotes more of the same.
The benefits of gratitude go beyond helping us to feel good about life. These good feelings and experiences make a great contribution to our health and well-being.
There are many ways to enhance the feelings of gratitude and appreciation. You don’t need to do them all in order to reap the benefits. In fact, just by being aware of the good in your life will make a big difference.
How to Practice Gratitude
- Keep a gratitude journal. Set aside time weekly, or even daily, to write down 3 things for which you are grateful. As you are writing them down, think of how they make you feel; how pleased and happy you are about each one. See how many other things you can think of, and write those down too.
- Think about people or pets for whom you are thankful. Think of how much you love them, and what it means to you that they are in your life. If you like, tell them how you feel about them.
- Look for the good in life. As you go throughout your day, look for things to be grateful for. It could be things like a beautiful flower, the birds in the sky, a gorgeous day, the car you drive, or the clothes you wear. Take special notice of these things and give them meaning. Act as if they are miracles from heaven.
- Wake up in the morning with gratitude in your heart. This sets the tone for the entire day. As you get ready to start your day, think of what makes you smile. What is good? What is right? Think of these things and embrace the gratitude you feel.
- If you are religious or spiritual, pray about your gratitude. Give your heartfelt thanks and appreciation for everything in your life. When something wonderful happens in your life, no matter how small, offer your sincere thanks and appreciation.
The joyful practice of gratitude helps you get in touch with your feelings and desires. And I think it helps you to know yourself better. I consider it to be a life enhancement that everyone should do.
It is a well known fact that having genuine gratitude for the good things in your life will help you to have a happier, more fulfilling life experience.
Which of these gratitude practices sound good to you? Which will you put in place starting today? Or, if you already practice gratitude, I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
Watch this enlightening video where Dr. Joe Dispenza, of whom I am a big fan, explains the power of gratitude and its role in creating abundance in your life.
Final Thoughts on Holistic Living and Self Care
Holistic living and true self care are both several levels up from what the mainstream consider to be “healthy living”. Humans are natural beings, a part of nature, if you will. Our bodies always respond best to a natural approach to health and life. We all want to feel great, be active, and live a good life. To do that we must be healthy.
What holistic living and self care methods do you like to use? I want to know! Please comment below and tell me:)
Remember to grab the 17 Self Care Habits of Naturally Healthy Women now for Free!
Related Holistic Living and Self Care Articles:
- Ultimate Holistic Lifestyle Guide for Beginners
- 13 Benefits of Frankincense Essential Oils
- Superfood Smoothie
- Homemade Vanilla Cashew Milk
Resources: 1. Balch, P. (2010) Prescription for Nutritional Healing. 2. Douillard, J. “The Miracle of Lymph”. LifeSpa, 27 Feb. 2014, lifespa.com/the-miracle-of-lymph/. 3. “Lymphatic Flow”. JumpSport Fitness, jumpsport.com/fitness/lymphatic-flow/ 4. “Organic Foods: What you need to know”. HelpGuide, helpguide.org/articles/healthy-eating/organic-foods.htm