You’ll likely receive many beautiful gifts this holiday season—paintings, jewelry, kitchen tools, a trip to the spa. However, the most important gift that you can receive can’t be wrapped, nor can it be given to you by someone else. This gift comes from a place of self-love, a commitment to transformation, and a desire to be your best self. This season, give yourself the gift of health.
When I discuss health, I’m not just talking about having a healthy body, although that is important. You should strive for a full-spectrum health, where your body, mind, emotions, and spirit are all functioning at optimal levels to create long-lasting, expansive effects. Although the journey to such a health is lifelong, beginning your transformation is as simple as making a commitment to your health. And when is a better time to make this commitment than now?
Here, I unwrap for you each aspects of your health and gift you simple tips that you can immediately apply in your life.
The Gift Of Physical Health
Achieving physical health is often the first step in the healing journey, as we can see and feel the results of our changes in our bodies. I’m sure all of us have struggled with our health at some point, whether it was unwanted weight gain, high blood pressure, or reproductive issues. Unfortunately, our society only treats the symptoms of these issues, not the root cause. While a pill or flash diets may work in the short-term, the problems will likely recur.
To achieve lasting physical health, we must examine ourselves and our lifestyle to find the source of these health issues. Our dietary choices make a huge impact on our health. Think about it—the average American eats around 1,996 pounds of food per year.1 With almost one ton of food going into our bodies yearly, it’s easy to see how our eating habits are affecting our bodies and our health. Take a moment to look at your diet. Are you eating highly processed, sugary foods that lack any colors except brown, white, and beige? If so, it’s time to overhaul your diet.
- Replace the browns and whites on your plate with a spectrum of colorful, whole fruits and vegetables. These foods are full of phytonutrients, naturally occurring compounds that give plain foods their color and boast a host of health benefits.
- Trade white bread, white rice, and pasta for whole grain alternatives—quinoa, amaranth, and black/purple rice are all protein-heavy, healthy alternatives.
- Finally, kick white sugar to the curb and satiate your sweet tooth with natural sugar sources like honey or dates.
The Gift Of Mental Health
When we discuss “health,” often the unspoken meaning is “physical health.” But your mental state also plays an important role in your overall health. In fact, the reason that improvements to your diet may not be having a satisfactory effect on your health may be because of a build-up of untreated mental toxins.
One of the biggest barriers to full-spectrum health is negative thoughts. If we spend our time thinking that “I’m not strong enough to change my health” or “my cravings control me,” these thoughts will manifest into reality.
There is an easy technique to replace these thoughts with self-serving, positive thoughts, called the “cancel-reset-replace technique.” Every time you find yourself thinking negative, say to yourself “cancel” and replace the thought with something that is affirmative and positive, like “I am in control of my body and my health.” You’ll find that after a while, the negative thought will appear less and less often as you train your mind toward positivity. Continue to use this method with any thoughts that aren’t self-serving—you’ll be amazed at the results.
The Gift Of Emotional Health
How many times in the past week, day, or even hour have you had to suppress a negative emotion? Maybe it was anger at a coworker who didn’t finish a project on time, sadness at seeing a homeless veteran, or frustration over your child’s apathy toward school. We’ve trained ourselves that expressing emotions makes us weak, so we shove them down and allow them to fester and become toxic in our bodies. In fact, one study found that suppressing emotions lead to an increase in the mortality rates of participants studied over 12 years.2
- Clearly, expressing your emotions is an important step in our journey to full-spectrum health. Allow yourself to let your emotions flow from your body by setting an “emotion date” twice a week. During this private time, allow yourself to express all the emotions built up during the week, whether through a journal, crying, talking to a friend, or channeling your emotions into art.
- You may also choose to track your negative emotions and their causes in an emotion log. By tracking your emotions over the span of a couple of weeks, you’ll be able to highlight the things or people in your life that are consistently causing you to feel negative emotions; you can then take steps to reduce their toxic influence in your life.
The Gift Of Spiritual Health
The last aspect of health is the often-overlooked spiritual side. Although we live in an increasingly isolated society, how often do we really take the time to connect with ourselves, away from the glowing screens of our phones or TV? We dart about in our busy days, rushing from one activity to the next, without taking time to just stop and be. This separation from our healing spirit can take a severe toll on our health.
This holiday season, give yourself the daily gift of an undistracted presence in your body. Set aside 10–15 minutes of your day to simply be in your body, without concentrating on the world around you. You could choose to meditate, take a restorative walk in nature, or practice restorative breathing. Whatever activity you chose, use the time to check in with your body—how are you actually feeling? Are there any blockages to work? Any unnecessary stress that you can release?
During the holidays, take the time to reconnect and become attuned with your body. Listen to what your body is truly craving, which is health! The journey to full-spectrum health may be lifelong, but the transformations you’ll experience along the way will be better than any necklace or spa certificate you unwrap over the holidays.
|↑1||The Average American Ate (Literally) A Ton This Year, npr.org|
|↑2||Chapman, Benjamin P., Kevin Fiscella, Ichiro Kawachi, Paul Duberstein, and Peter Muennig. “Emotion suppression and mortality risk over a 12-year follow-up.” Journal of psychosomatic research 75, no. 4 (2013): 381-385.|