We live in a world which expects us to be hyper-productive and always on. From the moment we wake up to pings and notifications, to the moment we crash into bed too late and tired. We have jobs to do, wages to earn, mouths to feed, bills and mortgages to pay, shit to buy, holidays to pay for.
This is a stressful, exhausting way to live, and chronic stress has a massive impact on our health and mental health. We are in the depths of a global mental health crisis, with a worryingly high prevalence of depression and anxiety. Our physical health is often not much better, and chronic ill health is becoming commonplace.
Modern life is draining the life from us. We are sedentary, and we spend way too much time indoors. Many of us prioritise work above all else, pushing ourselves hard and neglecting to give ourselves downtime. We consume food that often isn’t food at all. We use food to numb, as well as to nourish. Or we use social media, or alcohol, or shopping, or big projects, or busyness – all of these things are distractions from the ways in which we may feel unhappy.
We have lost our connection with nature, daily cycles, and seasons. Often, we are lonely. Our connections with loved ones are being eroded by the glowing screens in our pockets and handbags. We consume endless content, noise, news, fake news, opinions, rants – from media companies and advertisers, and from our peers. We are so deeply embedded in this way of life that we rarely question it, or who it serves. But this way of life hurts us, and the consumerism it encourages hurts our planet.
We need to reclaim what it means to be human. We need to reconnect with ourselves, our families, our food, and the natural world. We need to know these things intimately, and give them the love they deserve. We need to see just how precious we are – individually, as a collective, and as an ecosystem on the planet we share.
This blog will focus on easy, doable ways to reconnect to what matters and take care of your health – and it will be organised into 5 pillars.
Why the five pillars? Because it’s easy to go all in the things you enjoy, but then undermine your health in other areas. I’ve done it so, so many times!
You can spend so many hours cooking and exercising that you end up going to bed late and you’re short on sleep.
Or you can go deep into self-care and self-development, reading all the blogs, attending the webinars, doing the challenges… and neglect the person sitting right next to you, who loves you and is a bedrock in your life.
I’m not the first person to talk about health pillars. You’ll see it everywhere because the concept is sound, it makes intuitive sense. The pillars I have chosen are the ones that make sense to me.
- Calm your nervous system. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and crucially, sleep. This is about regulating our nervous systems, activating the Vagus nerve and getting out of fight or flight mode (which is only ever meant to be a temporary response to external stressors)
- Move your body. Our bodies are built to move, and being sedentary is incredibly detrimental to our health. This is about exercise for health and mental health, with no particular focus on weight loss
- Nourish your body. Eating whole food, cooking from scratch, baking your own bread or sourdough (whatever is doable for you). This is about giving our bodies the nutrients they need, and also taking care of the gut microbiome (the community of beneficial microorganisms in the gut)
- Reconnect with people. This is not something I would have always thought about as a big component of health, but in fact it’s huge – and loneliness is a killer. Family, community, social support and a sense of being part of something bigger are vital to us as humans
- Reconnect with nature. Experiencing the natural world has a profound effect on us. It can help ground us, flooding our senses with cues from the outside world and tapping into the now, rather than the future in your head (which is a major component of anxiety). Spending time in nature and tuning into the seasons, growing your own vegetables, gardening