Are You Sitting on a Wobbly Stool?

Are You Sitting on a Wobbly Stool?

Back to the Basics of Holistic Health 

There are many times during the year that we feel like the year is starting anew. There is New Year’s Day, of course. Then there is Spring, and the beginning of Summer, then September when the academic world returns to school. SO many opportunities to get refocused and refreshed!

BeWell is going through such a new beginning this Spring.  On March 1 we moved into an airy and light-filled new space and now share a suite with my daughter and son-in-law, Drs. Annie and Matt Reyes. Being so close to these talented young chiropractors will enhance the health and well-being of their patients and ours, by providing the possibility of an even more holistic approach to health. Nutrition and chiropractic are a powerful combination for supporting lifelong optimal health.

Reflecting on this change prompted me to ask our clinician, Rachel Long, CN to write about the 3-legged stool that provides a powerful foundation for sustained good health. If I have learned anything over my decades of practice, it’s that if you are feeling physically or mentally poorly, you cannot attend to any area of the mind, body and spirit as effectively. Every aspect of our lives affects our health, which is why BeWell has always been not just a clinical nutrition practice but a holistic nutrition practice as well.

Holistic health is a lifestyle approach that considers multidimensional aspects of wellness, addressing the physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual components of health. In the field of functional nutrition, though we utilize Functional Testing and professional grade supplements to investigate health status and promote healing, they are almost always used in the short-term while we build up foundational nutrition and lifestyle habits. You cannot out-exercise a sedentary lifestyle and you cannot out-supplement a bad diet. 

Let’s talk about the three legs of the most basic principles of holistic health. Think of a stool. You need all three legs for it to hold you up or else you crash to the floor!  These three legs are nutritious food, adequate sleep, and daily movement. 

Eating nutrient-dense food every single day is one of the most important actions you can take for to feel well and vibrant in the present and to ensure long-term health. Food gives our body information that our metabolism can use to either run effectively, or to plod along and become stagnant.  

In an information-obsessed world, it can be easy to get caught up in calorie-tracking and focusing on the numbers on a scale, if weight loss is one of your goals. But let’s remember that we are human beings and not robots, and our food should be a more joyful experience than simply being reduced to the number of calories taken in versus the number of calories burned. 

Besides, all calories are NOT created equal. We all intuitively know that 500 calories of broccoli is not the same as 500 calories of Oreo cookies or Haagen-Das Ice Cream. Focus on quality. Get back to basics…which means you must schedule time to shop for whole foods,  to prepare them and yes, even to eat in a relaxed setting so you can digest your meals properly!  When you shop the perimeter of your grocery store for fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and fish and cook them at home you are not only saving money but also promoting life-long health and preventing disease.  And if you have kids, you are modeling a healthy lifestyle.

Sleep is another pillar of wellness. Make room in your schedule for downtime, and stress-reducing activities, and to get an adequate amount of restorative sleep. According to the National Institutes of Health, sleeping less than 7 hours per night regularly is associated with many adverse health outcomes. Though you may be eating nutrient-dense foods and have a regular exercise routine, those benefits are negated when you are over-scheduled and sleep-deprived. 

There are myriad ways to cultivate good sleep hygiene and one of them is to simply say “no” to some engagements that are not a good fit for your current life’s demands. You may need to make a list of the top three priorities in your life right now, and if the request/activity doesn’t connect with one of those three priorities, then, out it goes. For now. So, you have more time to sleep for sustained stamina. This is not selfish. It’s smart.

A good place to start is sleeping and waking at the same time each day to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. If you work the night shift, travel across time zones, or have trouble when clocks change, use melatonin for a few nights to help you adjust your circadian rhythm. This is the ideal use for this supplement.  Consider light, noise, temperature, and environment when setting up your sleep space. You may need to run a fan or white noise machine to block out sounds. And is your room to warm?  According to sleep experts, the ideal sleep temperature is 65.

If getting a good night’s sleep each night is not realistic for you right now (I understand – I have a six-month-old baby at home!), then carve out small moments in your day to rest, if possible. Setting aside 10-15 minutes for a Non-Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) or a Yoga Nidra meditation practice can improve energy levels, cognition, stress, anxiety, and overall well-being. 

Make room in your schedule for movement and time spent outdoors. Being indoors all day, bombarded by blue light from screens, can contribute to sensory overload and mental fatigue.  Getting out in nature regularly improves concentration, focus, thinking, and a sense of well-being. It reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), decreases muscle tension, increases vitamin D levels, and lowers blood pressure. 

Exercise is a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to movement, make it fun! Choose activities that appeal to you and don’t be afraid to try new things. Start small and find ways to work movement into your day.  For example, walk slowly and mindfully from your car to your errands, feeling the cool air on your face and the sun on your skin.  Let yourself be uplifted by being outside even for a few minutes.  Embrace movement and nature as integral parts of a healthy lifestyle that benefits the body in countless ways.

If you are reading this article, you are probably trying to get back to the basics of holistic health.

Or maybe hearing about it for the first time and considering where to start.  Making small, gradual changes is the best way to build a sustainable practice. Tend to each leg of your stool a little bit every single day and doing so will help you stay healthy and capable of navigating all that life can bring your way.

If you need help with any of the legs, especially diet or sleep, click here to schedule a Free 15-minute consult to find out how we can help YOU.

Rachel Long, CN

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