If you have been on the path or curious about healing your body holistically, there are five incredibly important things to know as you go on your holistic living journey. These crucial discoveries took me by complete surprise as I healed myself holistically over the last ten years (yes ten!).
I’ve conquered adult acne, Celiacs, gut dysbiosis, and adrenal fatigue all from a holistic perspective. I wish someone would have gently told me these five things right away when I started so I could have saved myself from mountains of frustration.
So today I want to share them with you, so you can heal faster and with more grace than I did.
First, I want you to know what my life like before I got started healing holistically. I felt like my body was going to self-destruct. I had had constant brain fog, everything I ate felt like it was out to get me, I was always bloated, I battled severe adult acne, I was 30 lbs overweight, and I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep to save my life. Top all that off with my anxiety being through the roof - I was at the end of my rope and I was only 20 years old.
Then I was diagnosed with Celiacs and my world flipped upside down. In that moment I could have played the victim, but I used it as an invitation to take a closer look at my life, my surroundings, and my habits.
Thus began my journey into healing holistically and here's what I wish I had known before I started.
1. Stay In Your Lane
Without a doubt, you are going to read something about healing naturally and holistically that will apply to a friend or family member, say your mom got diagnosed with RA or a dear friend has Hashimoto's. They live the status quo lifestyle, including eating the SAD diet, not getting enough sunshine, and doing endless cardio workouts that leave them spent. You will instantly want to help them with all your new found knowledge, but I have to tell you right now - they will not want to hear it.
People never want to be preached to, nor do they want to be told what to do. Take a moment and think about your own journey, was your entry into holistic healing because someone was giving you unsolicited advice? Most likely not.
For me, it was feeling at the end of my rope. Conventional medicine was not working and I took it upon myself to find different answers. It was through my own volition that I started healing holistically. Because of my bootstraps approach, I was invested in seeing results.
I know it’s instinctive to want to share and help those you love, especially as you experience the positive changes that holistic healing brings. My advice is instead, lead by example.
What does that mean?
It means refusing soda at the restaurant without explaining yourself. It means bringing your own gluten-free dessert to the party where no one cares and refraining from announcing it to the room. It means reading a fantastic book about holistic healing and not having to tell everyone you know about it. It means making changes without having to drag everyone along with you.
What did this look like in my life?
When I stopped preaching and started staying in my own lane, it was amazing what happened to the people around me. My mother who was diagnosed with RA began researching how to heal through food and lifestyle and started weaning herself off prescription drugs. My father tried a five-day fast without prompting. My partner started asking more questions about how food affects his mind.
When I released my own expectations of others, I was so much happier and my holistic healing journey was much more fulfilling. Then when they became actively curious, I was ready to help and it worked because they were receptive. Wait for them to ask for insight, don't force it on them.
2. Don't Neglect Healing Your Mind
There is no true separation between body and mind. Our nerve endings bring information all over our body to our gut and our brain. We can hold physical tension for years that was born out of one single emotional experience. When you set to work on healing your body holistically, you cannot forget that you must work on your mindset too.
Our flight or fight response is consistently triggered in our modern world and not only does our mental landscape suffer, but our bodies do as well. Constantly checking our phones, being triggered by emails or texts, comparing ourselves to everyone else’s edited lives splashed over social media - these distractions bring us never ending stress and anxiety. That stress and anxiety manifest in different ways in our bodies and can compound over time, so how do you undo it?
Meditation and controlled slow breathing can help turn off a chronic flight or fight response. Deep, controlled, and mindful breathing has immediate positive effects on your muscles, pulse, and organ function. Take 10 to 20 minutes a day to concentrate on deep slow breathing, meaning: inhale for four beats - hold for four beats - exhale for four beats - hold for four beats - repeat. This style of breathing has many names: box breathing, ujjayi breath, ocean breath, etc. No matter what you call it, the bottom line is it helps immensely.
So when to find time to do this style of breathing?
I do it in the car when I'm driving everyday. Instead of blaring music or a podcast, I simply focus on box breathing and staying present. I also do box breathing in the mornings before breakfast. My trick is associate a new habit with another established habit. When I'm driving in my car = I always do box breathing. It removes the "newness" of a foreign habit and integrates it easily into your life.
After doing this dedicated breathing practice for a month, you can expand upon it by doing in-depth self-healing work. Take the time to understand your triggers, your behavior, and your emotional blind spots. In doing this, you’ll continue to relieve physical tension in the body and also cultivate a sense of unshakeable inner peace. Dr. Nicole LePera of The Holistic Psychologist is an incredible resource on self-healing work.
Integrating mindset work into my holistic healing practice has been a complete game changer. My anxiety has been totally manageable AND recognizable when it rears its ugly head. I have such better tools now to get it in check and calm myself down.
If you are craving more the science behind the mind-body connection, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky is a fantastic read on this subject.
3. Rest and Self Care Are Just As Important As Exercise
If you’ve jumped into healing your body through food, chances are you are getting into a new workout routine too. Whether that’s kettlebells, body weight training, HITT, or yoga - know that you need to have more rest days than workout days.
Why? On days of rest, your body restores muscle glycogen, heals tissue, and gets back to homeostasis. One study found that at least two full rest days were needed after exercise to lessen the chance of injury. Another study found that very low-intensity exercise, like walking or light swimming, after high-intensity exercise can also help boost recovery.
This lesson is especially vital for all my CrossFit peeps out there. I know you may feel indestructible when you’re deadlifting 450 lbs every single day, but your stress response is going to catch up with you. I can speak from experience, having been at a point where I was going to CrossFit four times a week I actually started putting on weight (not muscle mass weight either). Perplexed, I turned to a personal trainer for an opinion. After I explained how hard I was working, he looked at me and asked what I was doing for rest. When I came up short, he told me, “There’s your problem.”
Now I do strength training 2x a week, walk 2x a week, and do yoga 1x a week. I’m at my high school weight and honestly, I feel like I barely have to work to maintain it. Ultimately, the weight loss comes from not just a habit of rest, but a myriad of holistic healing habits that I've incorporated into my daily life. More on that later.
On those days of rest, include self-care. Taking time for yourself doesn't have to include painting your nails or getting a haircut. It can be as simple as reading a book you love, staring out the window and daydreaming, or calling up a family member to chat without a time constraint. As a female farmer, I have created a very specific self-care regimen that I follow to keep my battery levels at maximum capacity. If you are a gardener, homesteader, or farmer - I highly recommend checking it out.
So please know, you cannot put your body under that much consistent physical stress without having a negative impact on your wellbeing. Take time for rest. Take time for you. It all adds up.
4. It Takes Time To Heal Holistically
It’s been ten years since I started my holistic healing journey and I’m still figuring a few things out. While I have my sleep in check, my body weight at a healthy place, my mental clarity back, and my adult acne under control - I’m still tweaking my routine to lessen my endometriosis pain.
I used to be in a rush to figure out my “root cause”, but I’ve learned that stressing out over results doesn’t get me anywhere. When I take my time researching a problem from a holistic perspective, I find I actually enjoy myself more. Being patient with my body has allowed me to take a step back and gain a deeper sense of what I actually need to heal.
Another crucial point to make is that when you make habit and lifestyle changes, you won't often feel or see results immediately. But as you continue to tweak and shift things, those positive changes will compound and a few months or a year later you will realize how great you feel. Healing doesn't happen overnight nor is it a quick fix, but you will get there if you keep at it.
It’s hard to not want immediate results, believe me, I know. The point of holistic healing though is to listen to your body and see your life and habits as a whole - and that takes time. So be patient with your body, be patient with your feelings, and enjoy the journey. You are on the right track and that’s what matters most.
5. There's A Huge Benefit To Holistic Living That No One Talks About
It took me at least five years into my holistic healing journey to make this discovery, but I want to offer this “aha” moment to you much sooner to put some wind in your sails.
Healing holistically goes hand in hand with living sustainably.
Let me say that in a different way. What’s best for us and our health, is also what’s best for the earth. Food without chemicals means soils without chemicals. Less leaching plastic in your home means less plastic in the landfill. A toxin-free home means a toxin-free environment.
Think about it. The less nasty stuff you are washing down the drain the less it winds up in our waterways and the less it affects aquatic life. When you are purchasing organic and local, you are not only choosing the healthiest food for you, but you are also voting with your dollar for a farmer who takes care of the earth instead of harming it.
Holistic healing has a positive feedback loop. The healthier we are, the healthier the animals are, and the healthier the soil is - this loop turns back on itself and continues to strengthen and prosper. Every healthy decision I make in the store or in my home has a direct positive effect on the earth.
It’s selfish altruism at its finest!
Deep Breaths, You Got This.
I hope these holistic healing tips will help you feel more grounded on your journey and give you peace of mind as you hit obstacles. There were days when I felt hopeless as I tried to figure out my sudden weight gain, my bloated tummy, and why I had such bad fatigue I'd have to lie down by 3pm.
Remember to stay in your lane, don't forget your mental health, be sure to rest, it will take time, and everything you are changing in your life is so much better for planet earth.
I remind myself of these things almost daily to maintain perspective. If you need some more help on your holistic living journey - keep scrolling!
Thanks for stopping by Green Willow Homestead! From chicken rearing to composting, we've got our hands full and we love sharing what we've learned along the way. Follow along as we strive to live sustainably and turn these five acres from just property to a fully functioning small-scale homestead.
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