5 Pillars of Wellness – The secret to living a balanced, healthy life.
What is the secret to living a balanced, healthy life? In this fast-paced world in which we live, is such a thing even possible to achieve on a consistent basis? To live a life where you feel truly at peace and connected with that deepest part of yourself. A life where you wake in the morning feeling energised, with a clear mind. You feel motivated and inspired about all you do in life.
I do believe it is possible to live a balanced and healthy life. But I also believe it requires commitment; it is a lifestyle choice. It requires making a pledge to yourself to put your needs and wellness first, and as you know, this is not always easy. However, the relationship you have with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. Don’t you think it’s worth the investment?
We believe there are five pillars to wellness. And when these five pillars are working in harmony together you will benefit, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
What are the 5 pillars of wellness?
We are all different, and this cocktail of pillars will work in their own unique way for you.
It won’t be too much of a surprise to see diet, exercise, and rest described as a key pillar. But there are also your mental and spiritual needs that are often ignored or not treated as equally in importance. I hope by continuing reading this article you will see how taking care of your mental and spiritual needs are just as important as what you choose to eat, how you exercise and the amount of rest you get.
My journey along this path of wellness could be considered quite extreme. I’ve made some rather big changes in my life in order to prioritise my wellbeing. Changes that included walking away from my career and choosing to live a much simpler life. You can read about my personal journey to wellness clicking on the link at the end of this article.
I love the Ayurvedic approach to food and diet, It’s a system that Ram and I live by. Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga. A system that teachers us the importance of managing and adjusting diet and lifestyle according to the season so that you remain focused, grounded, and balanced.
Our bodies have a biological clock that corresponds with sunrise and sunset Ayurveda says we should adjust our food intake accordingly. The sun is at its highest at midday and therefore, this is the time when the digestive system, the abdominal fire is strongest. This is the time when the main meal of the day should be eaten.
In the evening as the sun is setting, so is your body’s ability to digest food quickly. This means your evening meal should be lighter and easy to digest.
To help to ease yourself into a deep, restful sleep eat at least two hours before bed to give your digestive system time to rest.
Eating fresh and local
Globalisation has given us access to food and ingredients that in the past would not be available. As a consumer it gives you access to a variety of fruits and vegetables whether they are in season or not. But think for a moment about the process, the food chain and footprint of bringing these products to shelves.
Eating in rhythm with nature really is the best way. We will always promote the benefits of following a plant-based diet for both ethical and environmental reasons. We strongly believe in eating fresh food and vegetables that are in season and where possible have been locally sourced. But we recognise that this is not always possible. The one aspect of diet we will shout loudly about it to eliminate processed food from your diet .
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or not, one of the biggest enemies to a healthy diet is the growth of convenience and highly processed foods. The progression of vegan alternatives is wonderful, I love a good vegan sausage! But these foods are not so good when you see the ingredient list. Any food that has ingredients you can’t pronounce is not going to be good for you.
What is important it is to find a balance. Eating a balanced diet, with ingredients that is locally sourced (where possible), that your plate of food contains predominantly fresh vegetables, balanced with grains, pulses, and good fats. This is the key to good nutrition and wellness.
More and more we are living a sedentary lifestyle with one third of the global population aged over 15 years engaging in insufficient physical activities. The statistics say that we sit for approximately 6 hours a day. However, this number is much higher for anyone who drives for a living, works at a desk, or in front of a computer. Not only does prolong periods of sitting impact on your posture, but it also affects the functionality of your digestive system and is strongly linked to obesity and high blood pressure.
The guidelines for adults suggest, to support our physical and mental wellbeing we should get on average 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. Spread over 7 days that equates to 20 minutes a day, which really isn’t much.
To ensure a long-term commitment to your physical wellness, it comes down to mindset and finding the modality of exercise that works for you. It needs to be something that you enjoy. A walk with friends, attending a yoga class each week.
Committing yourself to 15-20 minutes of yoga asana each day will give you the most incredible tool to support not only your physical but also your mental wellbeing.
Importantly, find a modality of movement that enhances your life rather than adds more stress.
What are you doing to take care of your mental wellbeing? What does self-care look like for you? Being mindful is something we hear a lot about, fundamentally it’s about learning to be more present and aware but also understanding your emotions and putting tools in place to support your mental wellbeing.
Practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques you develop the ability to be more present. You become more mindful about the many different aspects of your life, from your diet and lifestyle habits to how you interact with others and engage with the world around you. When you are present you are neither thinking about the past or the future. This is where you need to be.
Observation of thoughts is something the Buddhists and Yoga masters have been practising for centuries. The mind is a very powerful tool, we’re believed to have an average of 6200 thoughts per day.
We are all guilty of overthinking! But it’s overthinking and worry that contribute to stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Meditation and mindfulness practices are proven to be excellent tools where we learn to observe, to witness our thoughts and emotions as they arise.Through regular practice you start to notice that most of your thoughts are patterns on repeat. The mind is either caught up thinking about a past event, or contemplating and fantasising what may or may not happen in the future.
I would encourage everyone to learn mindfulness techniques and bring meditation practice into your daily life. You can enjoy some free resources using the links at the end of this article.
Most adults require between 6-9 hours sleep a night. But we’re just not getting sufficient rest regularly to give our body and mind the rest it needs to rejuvenate.
We live in a society where it’s normal to fill as much as we can into a day. By doing so we neglect the need for a good night’s sleep. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern of late nights. Technology has made it easy for us to get drawn into late night Netflix binge sessions. Or we’re busy scrolling through social media on our phones before we go to sleep.
Regular sleep is essential for healthy wellbeing and for ensuring your mind is well rested. When you sleep your immune system releases small inflammation fighting proteins called cytokines, your sympathetic nervous system rests, that means the stress hormone, cortisol is reduced.
I’ve made a promise to myself this year, no technology after 9pm. I’m not saying I won’t slip from this commitment from time to time, but I’m determined that I will switch off in the evenings and sleep earlier.
5. Spirituality and social connection
Spirituality is a word that can make people feel a little uncomfortable. It’s a word that is often confused with religion. It might surprise you that you can be spiritual and religious, or spiritual and non-religious. You can also practice Yoga and not be spiritual!
For me spirituality is about connection and belief. It’s about finding your inner peace. Discovering your true essence and being comfortable with who you are. Being kind and compassionate to yourself and others. It’s about living consciously.
Spirituality is not a single path or belief. My choice is to follow and live a Yogic lifestyle. That through practice has developed my awareness and consciousness of my Self and drives me to live a more balanced life.
But you could find this connection with self from other modalities. Many people talk about feeling connection with self and nature through outdoor sports like running, surfing, swimming, or walking.
Community is what binds us together and can come in any form. It is the social connection with like-minded people that makes us thrive. A joining together of people who inspire and support each other. In Yoga we call this Sangha. Sangha is a Sanskrit word that means ‘association’ or assembly.
It doesn’t have to be a spiritual or religious community. It’s about association or finding your tribe, your soul family. These words explain this beautifully.
Soul family are those that gather around you in life, not connected by blood or race but by energy and essence. They bring unconditional love and support at the perfect times and understand and share the same mission and purpose. For you, I am grateful we are one.
Social and spiritual connection is about gaining perspective, about coping, and finding purpose.
It’s a marathon not a sprint.
I’d like to say that once you make this pledge to prioritise your health and wellbeing , life rolls along with ease! But that’s simply not true. There will be times when you will veer off your wellness path. Life does have a habit of getting in the way. You will reach for the wrong foods, have a series of late nights, wake up feeling tired and unmotivated and skip any form of exercise for a while.
But that’s ok.
The important thing is not to judge yourself. Show yourself kindness and compassion. Compassion is not something we only offer to other people. Any form or compassion, kindness and love must start with yourself.
Once you experience how good you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally, living in balance. Not only do you learn to recognise when this balance is slipping. You’ll know exactly what you need to do to get back on track, and you have all the tools available to you to bring you back to equilibrium.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also like to read:
Mastering the art of Relaxation, techniques to calm your mind and manage stress.
5 ways to enjoy the benefits of mindfulness without meditation.
What does cultivate the witness mean?
My journey from stressed out corporate to living a balanced life.
During this article I mention the practices of Mindfulness and Meditation. We have free recordings that you can access using the links below.
Ultimate relaxation technique – Free 20 minute Yoga Nidra Practice
Still your Busy Mind – Free 10 minutes Meditation
Click the link below to access a free 10-minute audio training, where you will learn a simple mindfulness practice that uses the breath to take you from your daily barrage of overthinking and worry to reclaim your calm, focus and clarity.