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Building The Foundation – Essential Pillars Of Holistic Health For A Thriving Life

Written by: Marina Gross, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Marina Gross

In a world that often demands our constant attention and energy, achieving optimal health has become a paramount goal for many of us seeking a balanced and fulfilling life. And the key to that is no rocket science. In fact, different branches of scientific research, be it neuroscience, human physiology, biology, positive psychology, or longevity studies, point to a few time-proven health practices across the board. In this article, let us explore the essential pillars that set the stage for a mentally and physically healthy life, paving the way for a thriving existence.

Closeup image of a beautiful woman holding a cup of hot coffee

A holistic approach to health and well-being

But first, let us explore what optimal health means in the first place. Because it is much more than just eating healthy and working out, although these two are definitely among the core pillars of mental and physical health. Neither is optimal health merely the absence of any illnesses or diseases or health issues or struggles.


If we take a look in the dictionary, the word "health" comes from an old English word "hole", which means wholeness, being whole, being sound and well. And according to World Health Organisation, health is: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, not just the absence of disease”.


Optimal health is not only being physically healthy right here and now and not experiencing health issues. Optimal health is being and feeling deeply nourished, well, and thriving in your body and your mind, by consistently taking good care of these two homes that you live in. Optimal health is feeling joyful and fulfilled in your life. Optimal health is not only going through your days feeling okay; it is feeling abundant in your body and mind; it is having the energy and the mindset to move freely, to enjoy life’s big and small moments with people you love and care about; it is being part of a supportive and loving community of family and friends, and consistently coming back to rituals, practices, habits and mindset that make you feel not only good but great in your body, mind, and soul.


Thus, the journey toward thriving health and well-being requires a holistic approach one that encompasses the integration of mind, body, and spirit, emphasizing the interconnectedness of various aspects of our well-being.


Sounds too good to be true? On the contrary, this state of physical and mental health and well-being is achievable without having to be a rocket science of all kinds of diets, expensive supplements, and life hacks or momentary trends to get there. However, what it does take is a consistent commitment to yourself, your health, and ultimately how you live your life. Truth be told, there is no quick fix to health and well-being. It is a life-long, beautiful, continuously educational, and exciting journey.


So how can we begin achieving this state of optimal health and well-being?

Cultivating mindfulness and calm: Natural stress management tools


In our fast-paced world, stress has become a ubiquitous companion. So the first step on the road is cultivating mindfulness and calm with natural stress management tools.


The sad truth is: stress has rapidly become “the 21st century’s health epidemics”, which is what the World Health Organisation has recently proclaimed it to be. And truly, recent statistics show that about 33% of people in the US report feeling stressed, of which over 70% report that it has a negative effect on not only their mental but also their physical health and well-being.


Compared with a European country, current statistics show that about 29% of Danish people report high stress levels, making stress a global health challenge that more and more of us are experiencing, even though we have never had more opportunities and possibilities to thrive, as we have now. Is it not heartbreaking that 1 in 3 people worldwide experience high daily stress levels and struggle with their mental and physical health because of it?


While stress is our body and mind’s natural reaction to outside warnings and triggers, that has been ingrained and embedded in us since the good old days when we were living on the savanna trying to survive, it becomes dangerous to our mental and physical health and well-being, when more and more of us are continuously being in this state of alarm every minute of every day.


Many researchers agree that the majority of mental and physical illnesses, that we experience in our modern society, are caused or worsened by high stress levels.


For instance, chronically high levels of stress negatively impact our brain health by shrinking the area of our brain called the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning. Furthermore, constant high amounts of stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) negatively affect our prefrontal cortex the area of our brain responsible for our decision-making abilities, focus, and social interactions, which all contribute to increasing memory loss and an increased risk of dementia later in life. Also, high amounts of adrenaline and cortisol in the body over long periods of time intensify the activity in the area of our brain called the amygdala, which constantly scans our surroundings for danger, leading to excessive worries and anxiety.


So the first step to elevated and thriving health and well-being in our modern society is understanding and proactively preventing or coping with stress. Habits such as deep breathing, spending time in nature, and getting enough sleep every night can significantly lower your stress levels, help your body and mind heal and restore, as well as help you face life's challenges with calm and clarity.


Positive living: Cultivating a mindset of abundance

Our thoughts have enormous power much more than we may realize. In fact, everything starts in our mind: our beliefs, our mindset, the stories we tell ourselves, the way we look at the world, the way we look at and show up in our lives, how we talk to ourselves well, yes, truly everything. We can look at it this way: our mindset is the lens that we see ourselves, our life, and the world around us through.

And it has such a tremendous impact on the quality of our lives, our relationships, our self-worth and self-love, our mental and physical health, our well-being and so much more. However, on our journey towards cultivating a mindset of abundance, positivity, and self-love, we are often up against our biology and a fascinating brain that evolutionarily has a life of its own.


Did you know that our brain automatically produces more than 70.000 thoughts every day? And to tell you the truth: we, as human beings, are evolutionary programmed to be inclined towards negativity and skepticism, rather than positivity, which is why most of our default thoughts are about comparisons, negativity, opinions of others, and things that can go wrong.


However, knowing that it is our brain’s evolutionary default way of protecting us, we always have a choice: what thoughts we listen to, what stories we tell ourselves, and what mindset we would like to cultivate. By mindfully incorporating habits of practicing gratitude or infusing our inner dialogue with positive affirmations, we can slowly retrain our minds to focus on the good in and around us, helping us cultivate a more positive and compassionate outlook.


Inner nourishment: Nurturing body and mind through food

A crucial aspect of holistic health is the quality of the fuel we provide our bodies. Proper nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining physical health, supporting mental clarity, and fostering emotional well-being.


The food you consume every day is a communication signal to every cell in your entire body and mind. Because when you eat, you eat for immunity, hormonal balance, vitality, brain health, energy, mental well-being, longevity, and literally everything in between.


Our food provides the building blocks for our entire body and mind. And while there’s no “one- size-fits-all” diet, all of us majorly benefit from cultivating a daily habit of adding whole, natural, fresh, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods into our meals that nourish and nurture our body and mind from within.


Intentional physical activity: Movement beyond exercise

One of the essential pillars for optimal mental and physical health and well-being, which is especially relevant in our modern sedentary days, and has a tremendous impact on the quality of our health and our life is movement.


In fact, there are few lifestyle habits that are as impactful and vital for our health and well-being, as movement and regular exercise are. This is a rich area of ongoing research, so new studies are popping up regularly. And the more we learn, the more we can inspire and motivate ourselves and others to make physical activity an integral part of daily life to support not only our physical strength, flexibility, and balance but also our emotional endurance, stress resilience, and happiness levels.

Did you know that recent studies done by the Harvard Medical School have concluded that exercise can work as well as antidepressant medicine for some people, while it can in some cases even work

1.5 times better than conventional medicine? And that even just 150 min of exercise per week can offset high stress levels, elevate mood, and improve our overall well-being.


Whether it is a gentle stretch, a walk in nature, walking from A to B whenever you can, or choosing stairs over elevators, these small choices contribute significantly to your physical well-being. Because when it comes to getting your daily movement in something is better than nothing. All movement counts and makes a difference to your well-being.


Meaning and purpose: Building a nourishing life

When it comes to pursuing optimal health, it is not only about what we proactively and preventatively do to take care of ourselves and our health, it is also about the quality of our surroundings and the inputs that we are exposed to every day.


As human beings, we are holistic beings, and there are many aspects of our lives that have the potential to truly fulfill, inspire, and make us happy. This, among other things, includes a cozy home, inspiring career, good relationships, moments of joy, fun with friends, continuous curiosity and learning, and expressing your creativity that all feed your soul and satisfy your hunger for living.


We hunger for play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, excitement, adventure, and spirituality. All these elements are essential sources of nourishment that do not appear on the plate but are part of our outer environment. These are all aspects of life that greatly and equally impact our mental well-being and physical health, and when they are balanced and aligned in harmony with our individual visions for what a nourishing life looks like to each and every one of us, they have the capacity to give us joy, meaning and true fulfillment.


So to complete the areas of care for our health and well-being, we not only need to bridge our mental and physical health and well-being but also look at the whole picture by both considering and practicing the very many things that we can do to make our health a priority, take it into our own hands and tend to it every day - even in the smallest ways we also need to consider the people, the information, the energy and the life that we surround ourselves with and dive into what truly makes us happy.


Purposeful self-care: Prioritizing your well-being

Last, but not least, an essential core pillar for optimal mental and physical health and well-being and a thriving, joyful, and fulfilling life is self-care.


Self-care is not a luxury or something we have to earn our right to. Quiet the opposite: self-care is an essential and non-negotiable pillar of our mental and physical health and well-being.


If we look into the dictionary, it has the following definition of self-care which means “practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness in a healthy and self-compassionate manner”.

So whether that means preparing yourself a nutritious meal, going for a walk, slowing down and prioritizing rest, showing yourself love, or simply making time and space for things that bring you joy and make you happy self-care is all about coming back to those little right actions and practices that make you come alive.


Because health is not a destination or a certain goal that can be achieved and put away. It is a beautiful, educational, and exciting life-long journey of consistently coming back to habits, practices, rituals, and routines that make you feel good in your body and in your mind.


In fact, health, both mental and physical, is what allows us to live our lives to the fullest and do everything that we aspire to because our health is our true wealth. The consistent actions of self-care, even the tiniest ones, are messages of love and care to our body, mind, and soul.


In conclusion

Achieving holistic health requires a comprehensive approach that acknowledges the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit. By focusing on the essential pillars of nutrition, physical activity, mindfulness, sleep, meaning, a positive mindset, and purposeful self-care, we can create a solid foundation for a mentally and physically healthy life.


Embrace these pillars as guiding principles, and embark on a journey towards a thriving and fulfilling existence.


For more inspiration, please follow Inspired Change Co on Instagram, explore the growing collection of articles on Inspired Change Co website, subscribe to The Little Right Actions Podcast, explore the 12-weeks self-paced online course to help you proactively take good care of your health, or sign up for the monthly newsletter with holistic advice on all things mental health and well-being delivered straight to your inbox.

Follow me on Instagram, and visit my website for more info!

Marina Gross Brainz Magazine

Marina Gross, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Marina Gross is a Holistic Health Coach and mental health advocate, who specializes in stress management and holistic well-being. In a world, where mental health is continuously declining and many experience stress, anxiety and burnout, it is Marina's passion and mission to make mindful health accessible and attainable for all. She is the founder of Inspired Change Co, the online holistic wellness and health coaching platform, and her work is purposed to inspire, educate and empower readers and clients to make their health a daily priority and cultivate a nourishing life that feels good inside and out.



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