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Aug 30

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Holistic Approach to Mental Health: for the Mind

Looking for ways to balance your mental health, physical or spiritual health? This is a 4 part series. Holistic Mental Health for the the mind! This is the first post in a 4 part series which focuses on a holistic approach to mental health. If you are looking for ways to balance your mental health, or for that matter your physical or spiritual health, the following practices and suggestions will help you take control of your life and make steps towards a healthier, and “wholer” you.

Holistic Approach to Mental Health: for the Mind

Meditation

Meditation is an ancient practice spanning history and different cultures around the globe. It is a tool to help one experience inner stillness. The goal is not to eliminate thoughts but rather to observe them and increase awareness. A typical practice is to focus on the breath, and once the practitioner becomes aware that she has lost her attention, the idea is to gently, without judgment, bring the awareness back to the focus on the breath. That’s it, in a nutshell.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation practiced in Buddhism, but you don’t need to subscribe to any religious or philosophical belief system in order to practice it and gain the benefits. Essentially, mindfulness is the art of staying in the present moment, without worrying about the future or obsessing over the past.

Some aids to helping you stay centered in the present moment include focusing on the breath, the experience and sensation of breathing gently in and out, or using the five senses to keep you rooted in your present moment experience.

 

Relaxation

Relaxation focuses on letting go of physical stress and tension. This, in turn, leads to the mind letting go and becoming more still. Deep relaxation is very beneficial to the overall health of the body and the mind. Progressive muscle relaxation is a simple exercise that can help you relax. Start at the head and work your way through all the muscles or muscle groups of the body. Tell yourself that with each outbreath you are letting go and releasing all the muscle tension.

 

Positive Affirmations 

Positive affirmations are first person (“I”) statements in the present tense, which affirm that something is so. For example, if you desire to lose weight, you can say, “I am now at my ideal weight”; if you want to move house, you could say, “My perfect home is coming to me now.” And so on. The idea is that you repeat these statements over and over again.

You can write them on post-its and stick them up around the house, so you will be reminded of them throughout the day. Eventually, the theory goes, you will start to believe in these statements and act accordingly. This change in behavior will bring about the desired result. Another benefit is that they are designed to boost your self-esteem, your sense of self-worth and your belief in your self-efficacy.

 

Changing Core Beliefs

This is an important key to overcoming self-sabotage and negative thought processes that can lead to anxiety, depression, and worry. Without weeding out some of the more persistent core beliefs, it is hard to move on and move forward, and live a life of happiness and contentment. Morelle explains: “We tend to stay stuck in the same subconscious patterns. Once we learn how to change our negative beliefs, however, it can have massive and far-reaching positive repercussions on our lives.

It is a good idea to find a skilled therapist to help you do this, preferably one who uses a body-centered approach, as previous traumas become stuck and show up either as physical symptoms from muscular tension to headaches, bowel dysfunction and nervous tics, or as mental and emotional symptoms such as depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.”

Morelle continues, “It is possible to discover and release very early childhood wounds with this process. Once we recognize that old coping mechanisms no longer serve us, we can instruct the subconscious mind to let go of old belief patterns, and replace those with newer, more empowering and healthful ones. This can have a very beneficial effect on our overall health and well-being.”

Visualization

Some people picture a place where they keep all the things they want to remember. They have different rooms for different topics and that way they know where to find what they are looking for when they need to remember facts or retrieve important information from their memory. Science now shows us evidence that visualization does actually work; it is used by Olympic athletes to increase performance and successful business people have used it to increase their potential.

Visualization can be used for many reasons: Perhaps you want to see yourself successful, or more self-confident, or more loving or generous. Maybe you want to see yourself living in wealth and luxury. Perhaps you long for a new boat, or a motorcycle. Whatever it is, focus on it in as much detail as you possibly can.

Try to become aware of sights, sounds, smells, textures and tastes, associated with your dream. Picture how you will feel once you have reached your goal. Say you want to attract love. Imagine how happy you feel, imagine the blissful joy of being in a safe, loving relationship with a kind and gentle person you can trust.

Imagine what it will feel like to have someone by your side. Imagine what this person will look like, how the quality of their touch feels to you, how they smell when you breathe in, and the kinds of activities you will do together, and so on and so on.

 

There you have it, a holistic approach to mental health for the mind! Come back next week, for a focus on the body!

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