March 14, 2022 BY Rachael Jordan
We are holistic beings, so when we are focusing on our health it’s important to approach it in a holistic way. This means to take into consideration all aspects of our being: mind, body & spirit. These three aspects of us are intertwined and each affect the other. This is a very ancient understanding that has been passed on through the generations and in recent times has the backing of scientific research. There are many studies on the effects of stress on the body to give just one example. The mind-body connection is a huge passion of mine, I see on a daily basis how putting attention on this aspect of our being can support the recovery of illness, and in some cases, it is the missing link to complete healing.
We are affected by everything in our environment. We are sponges, absorbing everything. Our nervous system is taking in all this information and communicating between our outer and inner environment. What we see, what we feel, what we eat, what we hear, what we smell, what we taste, what we sense; and all of this has an effect on our mind, body & spirit. Our emotions cause a physical response in our body with the release of hormones causing a ripple effect throughout our entire being. Our thoughts cause an emotional response, our emotions cause a hormonal response, depending on what hormone is released it can cause inflammation with the increased release of the stress hormone cortisol, and appear in a weakened part of the body, or it could be oxytocin, the love hormone which reduces inflammation. Being aware of what we are bringing into our being is fundamental to our health.
There is no avoiding stress in our society, it’s always going to be there in some form or another. A certain amount of stress is fine, but it is very common now for people to be in a state of chronic stress. How we deal with it and approach our overall wellness will play a crucial role in our health and longevity. Having a basic understanding of what we need as human beings on this earth in this life will keep us in balance and maintain wellness.
The body wants to heal, the body wants to be well. The body will always strive for homeostasis. If we allow ourselves the care we all deserve and the attention to our whole being we will have everything we need to deal with the stresses of life and be well.
This is a huge subject but putting it simply, ask yourself, before preparing a meal or sitting down to eat your meal or further still while you are in the supermarket picking up your shopping, “is this going to nourish me?” Intuitively we will usually know the answer to this question. The food that nourishes us is food that has vitality, the fresher the better. Home-made is always going to be healthier than pre-packaged foods.
To have a balanced meal you want half your plate to be vegetables, a quarter should be good quality protein and a quarter should be whole grains/complex carbs. If you aim to eat this way 80% of the time and 20% whatever you fancy, you are on to a winner.
We need water for every function our body preforms. When we are not taking in enough water our body starts to take it from other areas of the body to keep the brain hydrated. It will take it from your skin, blood, organs & colon. This can lead to premature ageing, constipation, brain fog, headaches, sleep issues and so much more. Chronic dehydration can lead to the development of more serious health issues due to every cell in our body needing water.
Depending on body weight we need to be aiming for around 2-3L water daily. If you have extra weight that you would like to shift you need to be drinking more water. Herbal tea counts as water intake but not caffeinated drinks. Caffeine is a diuretic and dehydrates the body. So for every cup of tea or coffee you drink you need to add in an extra cup of water on top of the recommended 2-3L daily. If you are having homemade soups or using plant milks, these will have some water content also.
The body needs to move. You don’t need to kill yourself in the gym everyday but you do need to move everyday. A 30min brisk walk everyday is an amazing thing to do for your body and your mind. Walking is one of the best exercises there is, its low impact, great for the lymphatic system and cardiovascular system, along with all the benefits it has on the nervous system by getting out into the fresh air and seeing the sky and the nature around you.
My top tip for exercise is to find something you enjoy. If you hate going to the gym, there is no point starting a gym membership. What lights you up? What brings you joy? Do you like dancing, swimming, walking with friends or maybe making new friends in a walking group? If you are starting from no movement at all, I would recommend starting with walking and building up your strength and energy to branch out into other activities.
Probably the most overlooked basic human need is de-stress relaxation time. And yet, in some aspects this may be the most important basic need we have. Studies have shown that many illness begin with stress or have stress as a major contributor to the development of illnesses. There is no avoiding stress, we will all experience it throughout most days. But it’s what we do to offset that stress that will make the difference to our health.
I recommend to take 20min – 1hr of relaxation time daily. Something that relaxes the body and mind at the same time. Exercise and T.V don’t count for this category as they are both very stimulating to either the body or the mind. Think more like deep breathing exercises, gentle yoga, meditation, self care rituals such as bath, footbath, massage, facial, manicure etc. One of my favourite things for relaxation is colour therapy or crochet. Find the thing that you enjoy and helps you to relax and unwind.
My top tip for busy people is to do 3 mins of deep breathing periodically throughout the day, set a timer, close your eyes and breath deeply and slowly into the belly. 3 minutes of deep slow breathing like this is enough time to send a message to your body and your brain that you are safe, the nervous system relaxes and reduces stress hormones, flooding the body with a sense of calmness.
We all know sleep is a basic human need. There are numerous studies on the effects of lack of sleep to the human body and mind. Lack of sleep has a direct effect on our cognitive function and our mental health. Sleep is when our body and mind can do a lot of repair, regeneration and processing. We have all at some point felt the effects of lack of sleep and have all probably experienced that amazing sleep we really needed.
Sleep disruption is extremely prevalent and stress is the most common cause. Reducing stress during the day can have a positive effect on the quality of sleep for that night. Having a wind down time before bed can dramatically improve sleep quality. Another very common cause of sleep disruption is over consumption of caffeine. I would recommend trying to cut down on caffeine and to limit it to the morning only.
The amount of screen time we have also has a huge effect on sleep. One of the worst things we can do is get into bed and spend time on our phone before sleep, but this is an extremely common habit. The light from the screens interrupts the melatonin production which is essential for getting to sleep and staying asleep.
My top tip for helping sleep is to have a 2hr wind down time in the evening, you can incorporate your relaxation time into this and kill two birds with one stone! Have a cut off point with screens and give yourself 2hrs no screens before you want to be asleep. Create a relaxing inviting environment in your bedroom, low light, incense, candles, oil burner etc. Take this as an opportunity for some self care rituals or some gentle yoga, stretching, deep breathing, meditation. One of my favourite essential oils to use in the evening is Lavender, I would rub that on the soles of my feet before getting into bed and breath deeply into my hands. Reading in bed is a great way of finishing off the routine.
It takes time to create healthy routines and habits, it can also take time to break old habits that do not serve us. But we can always make a change right now. Don’t underestimate the power of small changes. Making one small change now can have a huge impact.
I have supported clients for nearly 10 years making the changes they need to overcome their health issues. The amazing transformations I have seen, using simple diet & lifestyle changes are astounding. I also provide personalised herbal preparations as part of my treatment plans with clients. I see this as an invaluable tool for supporting peoples health in a natural and gentle way and yet so powerful. Get in touch today if you would like to start your journey of healing.
Find out more about Rachael and the Bia Beo practice, and the treatments available.
Rachael Jordan is the founder of Bia Beo.
She is a qualified Nutritional Therapist and Herbalist. Rachael helps people take control of their health by recommending appropriate treatment plans based on nutrition, herbal medicine and lifestyle changes.