Salt is pleased to welcome our new monthly health and wellbeing consultant, Craig Ali. Each month the holistic health expert will suggest ways to enhance ourselves mentally and physically for optimum performance in work and life.
The term ‘holistic health’ is bandied about everywhere these days – almost to the extent that it seems gimmicky.
Holistic health basically means considering anything affecting your wellbeing and how it is impacting how you function on every level.
That first of all means creating an awareness of your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state plus the environment and culture around you. This can create massive changes within most people instantly. Just by becoming aware of this you can start to pick up if aspects of your body and mind aren’t functioning well or that you’re not responding in a good way to your environment.
So, to start with let’s think about the bigger picture.
All of the systems within the human being are working together and responding to our environment, foods, thoughts and emotions to create our energy, happiness, relaxation and fulfilment levels. Think about it like a business – to create this booming, efficient, multi-billion pound company you need all of the systems and individuals working together in harmony.
For instance, if the sales team are excellent but the operations team are not working inefficiently, there will be a blockage somewhere in the flow of the business just like if one system in the body is firing at its best but another isn’t.
Or if you have great teams working well together but you place them in a poor environment with taxing hours, you will soon see their productivity and resilience start to weaken. Just like if you take a vibrant, healthy person and place them in a bad environment then deprive them of rest and sleep. The breakdown may take a while due to their good health, but it’s coming at some point, that’s for sure.
How can addressing all areas of your wellbeing improve your productivity?
- Physical and mental: I had to join these together as my research and experience of working as a health practitioner for 16 years has shown time and again that you can’t separate the two. If you look at some of the original studies of mindfulness pioneer Jon Kabat-Zin you will see that he was using meditation to help heal physically ill people, such as cancer patients.Also there are credible studies to show how good gut health can help brain function and impact anxiety and depression, or how nutrients like turmeric, fish and coconut oil can vastly improve the function of the brain. So by taking a mind/body approach, your health programme will start to get energised and synced, meaning both greater physical resilience and mental function. This is the base level everyone should be looking at for health, happiness and productivity.
- Emotional: So most people understand that energising physically and mentally will make them more productive but what about emotional energy? If you drain your emotional energy, you will have less energy in the bank for mental output. If you are constantly giving out and not recovering adequately then you will soon feel zapped on all levels.Also attaching to strong negative emotions and thoughts can create a stress response within the body, which will use your emergency hormones and deplete the nervous system leading to fatigue. If we get into a good emotional state we feel vibrant and can increase the release of our feel-good hormone dopamine, which has proven to be crucial in helping people find their ‘flow’. Studies by Steven Kotler & McKinsey have shown this can increase performance by up to 500 per cent.
- Spiritual: This is probably the least tangible and hardest to grasp of the energy sources. Spirituality for me is first of all accepting that there is something not only greater than us affecting things but greater than earth. Carl Sagan‘s ‘Pale Blue Dot’ speech describes that perfectly for me and I recommend it to everyone.Starting to connect with this really questions our meaning and purpose and we start searching to find that meaning and purpose. Studies performed by McKinsey on executives in ‘flow’ have proven this to be probably the greatest factor in getting people in the business world into the ‘zone’. Financial reward and climbing the career ladder is important to us but when people have meaning and purpose in their job and feel like they are making a difference, they can, again, be up to 500 per cent more productive.
Getting into your ‘flow’ and becoming more productive doesn’t just happen overnight as there are methods and systems that need to be adopted to support this.
Next month I will explain how to take all of the complex systems involved in holistic health and sync them with some very simple practices to get there.
Craig Ali is founder and CEO of Total Health and former coach of world record breaking adventurer, Mark Beaumont.
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Photo Credit: The Hamster Factor from flickr