Mind, Body and Spirit: Improving Your Awareness for Total Wellness Mind Body and Spirit Integration
First let’s make sure we are on the same page. Let’s review the three aspects of our health:
Mind or mental health refers to our emotional and psychological well-being. It includes our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. When we have good mind health, we are able to cope with stress, manage our emotions, and build relationships easily. If our mental health takes a dive, we might find even the simplest task challenging, or struggling to get through a day of doing something we know we used to enjoy. We may even find it difficult to commit and stick with a new routine.
Body or physical health refers to our physical well-being. It includes our overall health and fitness, as well as our nutrition and sleep habits. When we are in good physical health, we have the energy to do the things we enjoy and we are less likely to experience chronic health conditions. When our physical health is affected, we may notice more aches and pains, find it harder to train, or experience more frequent symptoms such as headache, upset stomach, bowel issues, or even inflammation.
Spiritual health refers to our sense of purpose and meaning in life. It includes our values, beliefs, and connections to others. When our spirit is healthy, we feel connected to something larger than ourselves and we have a sense of purpose in life.We find it easy to converse with others, even when we disagree with them. If we’re feeling a sense of being lost with no direction, spacey, and struggle to enjoy time with others. We may even choose to withdraw from even our closest partners and friends.
How do all three of these affect one another? When one aspect of our health is out of balance, it can impact the other two aspects.
If we feel overloaded with our work, family and personal life (mental), we may have trouble sleeping (physical) or we may withdraw from social activities (spiritual).
If we are struggling to lose weight despite diet and exercise (physical) we may start to doubt and self shame ourselves (mental) and quit our routine, where we may have been surrounded by individuals whose experiences are similar to ours (spiritual).
When we are going through a difficult time; partner difficulties, financial hardship, or chronic illness we may lose hope, faith in the system, feel lost and not know what to do next (spiritual). This in turn may affect our emotions, bring on more anxiety or depression, and we may have trouble focusing our thoughts on anything even remotely positive (mental). If we are anxious, we tend to tense our muscles more and raise our shoulders, experience more headaches, and notice more intense feelings of discomfort. Depression often brings on stiffness and achiness, as we may be moving around alot less (physical).
Have you, or are you currently experiencing any of the above situations in your life? I have, for sure. While some situations I handled like a champ, there are others that could’ve used some improvement. So let’s discuss what you can do, to create more awareness of your mind, body and spirit and obtain information that will direct us on supporting or maintaining that wellness state.
Your next 7 days: when you notice a mood state/shift, either positive or negative, take five minutes to assess exactly what’s going on. Don’t try to figure it out, just be gratefully aware of it. Answer the following questions and track it in your notes app, or small notebook:
How does my body feel?
Am I hot or cold?
How is my posture? Energized? Drained?
What are my thoughts like? Positive or negative?
What is the recurring thought or feeling?
How do I feel? Lost? Excited?
Am I having trouble coping with something?
Do I feel and observe more negative aspects of life than positive?
What is my current environment?
What did I do to help/improve, or maintain my mood state?
At the end of your day, dedicate 15 minutes, and a small space in your notes to elaborate on anything else you noticed- an interaction, a thought or pattern for example- and what aspect you need more support in if needed. Dedicate more time if available for more details.
After 7 days: set aside at least 30-45 minutes minimum, to go through all your entries and see if there are connections. If you really want to get creative you can create your own chart or spreadsheet, or highlight similar symptoms in the same color. Whatever helps you to process your last 7 days, do it. If it becomes confusing, try a different method. If you experience similar emotions during the week, are the symptoms of those emotions generally the same? How are they different? Do you notice any patterns in how you mind, body or spirit feel?
If you’re struggling to hold yourself accountable (or already know you need help) here are some tips:
-Use your smart watch or phone! Set a reminder for twice a day at least to check in with your “state”. Bonus points for scheduling extra check-ins after known meetings, events or situations.
-Enlist your most trusted partners in crime- friends, family, life-partners- and ask them to tell you politely when they notice a change in your physical or mental state. A quick “You seem agitated. Is everything okay?” can serve as a trigger to check-in with yourself.
-Be patient. You won’t catch every single scenario, but you will catch the important ones. If you still are struggling to notice, trying slowing down with everything you do. Focused breathing helps!
After you’ve done 7 days, try doing it again, and even a third time. You will notice more, and make more connections. You are going to begin the journey of connecting more to you whole self, so that you can have preventative awareness, instead of always feeling reactive, always feeling the need to “fix” things. It will take time, as you are building a new relationship with yourself.
Be patient. Trust what you notice. Breathe.