Creating Healthy Habits for Good Physical & Mental HealthHeidi Hadley
In today’s blog we are going to discover how creating healthy habits is imperative for good physical and mental health.
The Close Link between Physical & Mental Health
The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program (www.TotalSomatics.com) looks at mindset, mindfulness, somatic movement and nutrition in great detail. The knowledge you gain within the program heightens your awareness to how your mind and body are closely connected, you cannot deal with one exclusively. I am sure you have experienced times when you have felt emotionally and mentally exhausted. As a result of the mental exhaustion, your body becomes affected by it. Likewise when we suffer with physical issues, our mental and emotional health is heavily affected. That is why I created the online program, to target your mind and body as a whole, which in Somatics we refer to as the ‘soma.’
If you are a regular reader of my blogs, you will know that Total Somatics is all about educating and empowering clients so they can take back control of their health and wellbeing. Instead of relying of being ‘fixed’ we look at how we can develop skills and knowledge which will help reduce pain, improve posture, increase mobility, develop mindfulness and allow you to return to or continue to enjoy the activities you love to do.
However when we consider society’s perception of mental health, the culture appears to be fixated on the problems, this includes talking about stress, depression and suicide and reduce the discrimination faced towards ones with mental health issues. However important these efforts are, we are still focusing on the negative aspect of mental health, rather than focusing on positive images, practical and proactive approaches we can do which will inspire and create hope. Think how ‘physical health’ images are almost always presented in a positive image, from green smoothies to sultry poses in 'active wear.' That’s how mental health should also be portrayed. We need to look at ways to improve and create changes towards the perception of mental health. We need to flick the switch on what we focus on.
Do you recall from one of my recent blogs regarding an area of our brain known as the Reticular Activating System (RAS)? (TO READ MORE ON THE RAS, CLICK HERE). This area subconsciously filters and directs our attention to what we focus on. If we focus on positive, can do, proactive approaches, we can grow in this area. However if we focus on negative thoughts, images and conversations/discussions, our mind will focus and groom our mindset in the other direction.
As we have already learned, our mind and body work in harmony and are collectively referred to in Somatics as the ‘soma.’ We know that a healthy soma will thrive on less sugar, less alcohol, more sleep, more exercise, more movement, positive mindset and no smoking. We are good at knowing this information, however putting it in to practice can take more effort! When we become aware of how we function with the correct fuel or food/drink, we feel better from the inside out. As a result, our emotional, mental and physical health will blossom. However when we are stressed, depressed and reach out for comfort food, it impacts on our physical health by putting pressure on our heart, bowel, immune system, muscular system and joints, just to name a few. So to be prepared for times when we may feel stressed, anxious or depressed, healthy habits or rituals will stand us in good stead.
If you are currently involved within The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program, you will know how healthy habits and rituals are imperative to good health. As children, we are taught the importance of incorporating healthy rituals such as brushing teeth and washing hands to help with our physical health. Nowadays, it is second nature to us, we don’t have to think about it, we automatically allocate time within our day to do these rituals. However we are really smart and also create unhealthy habits, which at times feel nice (in the short term). These can include consuming sugary foods, drinking alcohol, smoking, going to bed late and neglecting a movement practise. These habits start to create symptoms which are not agreeable to a healthy, functioning human/soma. We feel lethargic, achey, bloated, moody and sluggish. When we notice this, it can actually help us recalibrate and take stock! How?
When we feel triggered by an unhealthy habit, we then start saying we must make changes. The important part here is to carry on with this comment and turn it into an action. When you do, you notice the healthy benefits and changes.
A habit is made up of a number of factors, a cue, a routine and a reward.
Let’s consider the following scenario:
Habitual Behaviour which creates a ‘reward’: abdominal muscles tighten, shallow breathing, shoulders roll forward, neck tension and the digestive system becomes affected. The person reaches out for sugary foods, coffee or alcohol (at the end of the day) to help psychologically with the situation.
Lasting Impression: The reward is what creates the strong lasting impression and the habit is easily recalled in future stressful situations.
There are ways we can change a habit. Firstly, we cannot remove stress completely from our life, however we can change how we respond to it and then change the ‘reward.’
Let’s consider the scenario again:
Habitual Behaviour and ‘reward’: Identify which ‘default (subconscious) stress posture’ you are going into during stress. This is explained in greater detail within the Total Somatics Online Program at www.TotalSomatics.com. Develop techniques outlined within the Online program such as rib release techniques, reducing muscle tension which has created your default stress posture and mindfulness techniques.
These self care techniques will have longer, lasting health benefits and will reduce the secretion of stress hormones which create inflammation, mood changes and lowered immune function. Whereas consuming sugary foods, alcohol and coffee will increase cortisol levels, lower immune function and increase inflammation within our soma, only leading to further health issues.
Lasting Impression: The reward of feeling calm, in control, less muscle tension, improved breathing, a reduction in cortisol pumping through your veins and less abdominal pain has allowed you to sense, feel and reason that this is a healthier (and cheaper) way to reduce stress and take control of the situation.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”
My dearest nana use to say this expression all the time and she was spot on! Old habits die hard and it takes time and effort to break them. We will have wobbly days and fall back into old habits because nobody is perfect and we all get stressed, flustered and some days too tired to follow through with new intentions. However persevere because with time, exercising self disciple (which is a habit in itself), starts to make these new habits become second nature. Within time you will find that you incorporate these new healthy rituals into your day and it no longer feels hard work or effort to remind yourself of them.
The Total Somatics Approach to Health & Wellness Online Program has helped so many people around the world over the years. I continue to add new material which will help support you as you develop a Somatic Approach to Health and Wellness. Creating healthy habits with knowledge, skills and my support (via email, skype or zoom) helps to increase your awareness to living a life with reduced pain, increased mobility, improved posture and mindfulness. As a result of this, you are able to enjoy the activities you love to do and continue moving forward to good health and wellbeing.
Would you like to learn these skills in the comfort and privacy of your own home, at a time and pace that suits you? I would love to support you. To learn more, go to www.TotalSomatics.com
Heidi Hadley xx