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Whole Self: Mind + Body + Spirit

This series "Whole Self" will embody the deep roots of Whole Hearted Vixen, which seeks to help women identify their true potential. Being "Whole" means something different to everyone, but a commonality is that feeling whole means all of our pieces of self are aligned and cohesive. Often this is divided as the aspects of our mind, our physical wellness, and our spiritual pursuits. These areas are interconnected and feed off of each other.


Mind

When addressing your mind's wellness, you can view it as mental health needs, general thought processes, how you grow cognitively, or simply mental strength. Mind over matter has helped many people accomplish goals beyond their perceived limits. But how do you take care of it? To avoid having to go through tons of self-help books (or really, just go through them anyways, more power to you), think of openness and flexibility as ways to achieve more mental wellness and strength. Becoming open to experiences, accepting of circumstances out of your control, and flexible by rolling with the punches are all ways to increase that grit and tenacity that comes with mental wellness. This doesn't mean having a "tough it out" or "pick yourself up by your bootstraps" approach, but rather approaching each frustration, setback, or annoyance with a bold sense of welcome. When you wake up late because your alarm didn't go off, what are your first thoughts? That's right. You're usually immediately frustrated and probably saying some choice words. Instead of starting the day with cursing it, what if you trained yourself to instead respond with balanced thinking, such as, "That sucks but I'll make it to work and it won't be the end of the world." Easier said than done right? And everyone's "flexible" thought is going to have to be individualized. If you're late for work but you're going to be late for a big presentation or important meeting, that usually holds higher stakes and you'd need a much more realistic and resilient approach. This could sound like, "This is definitely a hard lesson learned" or "This is going to be a hard day for me but I'll find a way to love myself." In these moments, your best resilience is self-compassion. Practice mental flexibility by coming up with or reflecting on scenarios that were frustrating to you in the past week or month. What were your primary feelings/thoughts/attitude and assumptions about these situations? What could have been some more flexible, accepting, or open responses to these situations?


Body

When you're feeling sick, or physically weak, it impacts your mind. When your mind is overrun with stress, it affects your body. We'll get to the interconnected piece later, but what are ways you currently take care of your body? What are ways you give your body a hard time? The main culprits we all know are junk food, too much alcohol, too much sitting around, not enough movement, etc. and these are enemies that are pretty much well known to all of us. Do you listen to what your body needs? If you stopped to listen, would you even be able to tell how it was talking to you? Most people have poor body awareness because so much time is spent sitting around or dealing with other stress that we forget to stop and listen to what's going on. The best place to start with taking care of your body--instead of just throwing out all the cookies and starting daily salads (unrealistic)--is to learn how to listen to it. You can practice this by spending 5 minutes a day paying attention to all the sensations in your body and if they are pleasant, unpleasant, neutral, or saying something else. Maybe sitting and listening, you realize you've felt a fluttering in your chest all day (or your whole life) that suggests tension. You can listen to that tension to figure out where it's coming from in your life (this is where the mind's interconnectedness comes into play). What about your stomach? Do you feel a heaviness or sensation attached to an emotion? Is it pleasant or unpleasant? Try not to label the sensations as good or bad as labeling them as bad will tempt you to avoid addressing it. Instead, assume all of the sensations in your body are good simply by virtue of the fact that it's your body's way of communicating with you for the purpose of self-care. What a gift!


Spirit

Taking care of your spirit isn't necessarily about going to religious ceremonies though that's one of many ways to take care of your spirit. If that's what you do and it's working for you, keep it up. Some people spend time weekly in their devotionals for their faith and this provides comfort and contributes to the very mental wellness and resilience you learn to build for your mind's health. However if you're less traditional or just don't dig going to any organized or official services, and if even the word "spirit" makes you cringe because you're a materialist, remember that there's some truth to the fact that it's healthy to have a sense of awe over our consciousness even if it just comes from a bundle of nerves creating electrical impulses. Addressing your spirit's wellness can be as simple as feeding your ambitions to transcend yourself. To find the meaning of life or to create meaning beyond yourself. To be able to look at life and smile. These are things that go beyond our physical wellness and what our mind can concretely know or guess. Spiritual wellness can be akin to fulfillment and self-actualization. So with a definition that's a moving target, how do you take care of your spiritual wellness? If you have a faith of choice that works for you, rely on your doctrine as much as you feel empowers you. If you're needing direction or needing to find meaning, spending time in meditation is a science-backed approach that works for all brains in helping to pursue spiritual wellness. The best place to start is small--even a couple minutes a day--to build a practice. You don't have to "ohm" your way through it either, simply search guided meditation videos and recordings (or check out the mindful moments section of this blog) to build a daily practice. It's not supposed to be mystical or scary. It's just supposed to give you a moment to breath. Meditation is not the bulk of spiritual wellness but it's a great start and ultimately can help you define what spiritual wellness means for you. Don't forget to journal any revelations you might have through your mindful pursuits!


Interconnected

All of these pieces of you rely on each other for balance and wellness. If you get too far into your head, your spirituality will be out of balance (you'll think too much with your head and not your heart). If you focus only on spiritual cognitive experiences or mental wellness you'll take for granted how physical wellness contributes greatly to these areas. To find balance, try to plan something small for each of these areas of wellness every day. Meditate in the morning, do a walk or some stretching in the afternoon, and reflect on your mental journey in the evening. Spending even 5 minutes in each of these areas is not only better than nothing, but they can have exponential results for your overall wellness.


Don't forget to check out all WHV has to offer for your physical, mental, and spiritual wellness by stopping by our forum, our mindful moments page, and our gift shop!



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