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Holistic Health

Holistic Health

Holistic Health – For Optimal Well-Being Pay Attention to Mind, Body and Spirit

I suppose at first it may be strange to see a blog post about holistic health on a counselor website.  Mental health is a big part of taking a holistic approach to a person’s overall health, though, and I am a strong advocate of this with my clients.  No matter what issues bring a person to my office, I almost always find myself spouting off about self-care – which usually starts with “get enough sleep each night, eat healthy, and exercise” even though those are all related to physical health, not mental health!


Mental and physical health are so interrelated though, this is why I’ve asked Jessica Lee Reader of Vitalized Body here in Littleton, Colorado to write a guest post for our blog.  Jessica works with people individually and in groups to provide education and guidance in nutrition, weight loss and other health related services.  We both hope you enjoy her thoughts on holistic health and why this is such an important approach to taking care of ourselves for a long, enjoyable life.

Cathy Wilson, Director of LifePaths Counseling


Our primary health goal should be to achieve optimal well-being both mentally and physically. Ideally, every system should be functioning at it’s very best possible. However, in our modern society we have exposure to many factors that can hinder our health. We may find ourselves getting tangled in a web of multiple symptoms and conditions that affects our daily lives. We are living in a fast paced world and want quick answers to fix a long-term problem. A quick fix however, may provide the end result of a Band-Aid effect, where it does not address the underlying issue. When seeking solutions to support our body and gain balance, we often tend to underestimate the importance of a holistic approach. Holistic health is a form of healing that considers the person as a whole and emphasizes the connection of mind, body, spirit, and emotions.

A holistic approach acknowledges that if a person has one imbalance in their life it can negatively impact their entire overall health. Treatment involves supporting the root cause of the condition and not just alleviating the symptoms. This balanced approach to health considers how the individual interacts with his or her environment, rather than a conventional approach that focuses on specific parts of the body. Lifestyle choices are used to take charge of one’s own health and gain proper balance in life. Principles of holistic health include the belief that all people have innate healing powers, and the individual as a person and not just a disease.

A holistic practitioner may use a variety of alternative therapies to support an individual. They look at all the potential factors that may be causing the symptoms such as health problems, diet, sleep, stress, and personal issues. The therapeutic plan may involve education on lifestyle changes and self-care to promote wellness. This may include nutrition, exercise, psychotherapy, relationship and spiritual counseling, and more. Healing may take a team approach that addresses all aspects of life and uses a variety of healthcare practices. A balanced approach may include complementary therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, homeopathy, massage therapy, naturopathy, and others.

If you are tired of the “quick-fix” then it is time to take charge and begin a balanced, holistic approach to accomplish optimal health and feel your best. Let’s work together towards your goal of enhanced mental and physical well-being.

Written By:
Certified Master Nutrition Therapist, Jessica Lee Reader
Vitalized Body


Resilience For Well-Being and More

Resilience For Well-Being and More

Resilience and Well Being

Some things about the idea of “resilience” are obvious. When you have it, you can manage stress better. You have more of a sense of well-being.

I believe resilience also protects your physical health, and that the relationships in your life are overall more healthy and rewarding than they would be otherwise.

So, if you don’t feel like you have resilience, how do you create resilience for yourself?

Here are a few ideas to consider.

Check your thinking style.

Are you a positive or negative thinker? Negative thinking will erode your resilience. Fast.

You can use one of our free downloads to see if one or more of those ways of negative thinking fit you. First, check out these forms of negative thinking that we call “cognitive distortions.” Then you can use another one of our handouts on changing negative thinking to help yourself notice and then shift the way you think about things to be more helpful, rather than harmful.

There can always be a silver lining, even in dark and difficult circumstances.

Use curiosity.

Curiosity leads us to learn new things, to explore options, and to appreciate another’s point of view. Our choices open up when we look at the world through curious eyes and it creates a very different way of seeing. Creative solutions to problems may come to mind, and you may find more of a sense of hope and courage as you approach difficult situations.

Change what you can, let go of the rest.

One of my most important lessons in life has been about control. There is a lot in life that we can’t do anything about. Bad things happen and life doesn’t always go the way we want. If you can separate the things you can control, and the things you can’t – then you are able to 1) worry less over things you can’t do anything about, and 2) keep your energy for changing things you can control.

Try this question, “What can I control, and what is out of my control?” when you are faced with a difficult situation. It may seem like a simple question, but there is a lot of personal power in considering this. Just asking the question shifts your focus to more helpful ways of thinking and acting.

Accept that you will be uncomfortable sometimes.

Being able to tolerate the less desirable emotions we “get to” feel as human beings is an important skill. Yes, we try to minimize feelings such as anger or sadness but they happen to us all sometimes. If you can tolerate those emotions and accept that you’re going to have to feel them once in a while, it is going to help you have more resilience.

There are a few helpful things to remember to help yourself tolerate uncomfortable emotions. 1) You aren’t going to feel that way forever. 2) Emotions are feedback about what is going on in life and are important survival skills. Sadness helps us to gain empathy from others we care about, and connect with them, for instance. Fear tells us there is something to watch out for and avoid. Use your emotions, don’t let them control you.

Surround yourself with people who build you up, not bring you down.

To some extent, the people in our lives are mirrors. We reflect things back and forth between us about who we are and how the world is. If you have many negative people in your life, or unhealthy people, this is going to tend to bring you down emotionally, rather than build you up. The things we expose ourselves to in life are a big factor in how we see the world and that definitely includes the people we spend time with!

Take a look at the most important relationships in your life – family, close friends, work friends, neighbors. Who are you spending most of your time with? Do you feel comfortable, or is it more likely that you feel anxious, angry, or depressed after time with certain people? Limiting time with the people that bring you down, or increasing the time you spend with people who build you up can help.

Do you have other ideas about how to build resilience in yourself?

Photo courtesy of Iosphere and freedigitalphotos.net

Well-being: Living Your Values

Well-being: Living Your Values

Living Your Values

The idea of “living your values” is one that I often talk about with clients and can be helpful in building self-esteem, improving well-being, working through tough situations in life, and gaining understanding in relationship problems.

What are your most important values? Do you use these to improve well-being?

Here are a few thoughts on “living your values.” Take what you like to improve your life in some way.

To start with, what do I mean by ‘values?’ These are personality traits, or the ways of being that are most important to you. They may be honesty, responsibility, creativity, or giving a certain amount to charity, or the things that are most important to you in life, such as your family or the work you do.

If you want to, you might explore Dr. Martin Seligman’s list of common values and find those that are most important to you by going to the Authentic Happiness website and find their 240-question VIA (Values in Action) Survey of Character Strengths. It doesn’t take long and after you finish you get a list of the 24 character strengths (values) in the order of importance to you.

Then, what do I mean by “living your values?” Is it:

LIVE your values? …or…

Live YOUR values? …or…

Live your VALUES?

It is all three?

When you LIVE your values, you make them extremely important in your day-to-day life. You demonstrate them, you act on them. If your family is important to you, then you do the things that demonstrate that to yourself and to them. If the work you do is important to you then you strive to do your best at it. If optimism is important to you, you show it in the way you look at life and the things you say.

When you live YOUR values, you don’t let others decide what your values are. YOU decide for yourself.

And when you live your VALUES you know them well and you let them strengthen your sense of self-worth. These characteristics are part of what makes you the unique person that you are and you honor that.

How does this translate to improving your life? Here are a few ways:

If your self-esteem is low or you want to strengthen your sense of well-being, make a list of what your values are. Why are these important to you? Consider how act on these values, and how you may not be acting on them. If there are areas you are not acting on them in a way that feels right for you, change that. Taking action in this way strengthens both self-esteem and well-being.

Is there a problem in an important relationship you have? If you can identify a difference in values between you and the other person, does this change how you see it? Sometimes when you can see it this way, it makes it easier to understand each other’s viewpoint. Does it present a possible solution or at least a compromise?

Are you having trouble making a tough decision in life right now? Perhaps it is a conflict between different values you hold. For instance, if a woman in an abusive relationship is faced with the decision to leave or stay, she might have multiple values in conflict. Personal safety and well-being may be values on one side of the equation, while honoring her commitment to the relationship (marriage vows) may be on the other. This creates a conflict, and makes it hard to decide what she must do.

How can you improve your sense of well-being by living your values?

by Catherine Wilson, LPC

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Building Self Confidence

Building Self Confidence

Building Self-Confidence Skills

I recently ran across a YouTube video the other day about building self-confidence.

I love TED talks – they are usually about 15-20 minutes and are delivered by speakers who are considered an authority on the topic they are discussing. Dr. Ivan Joseph makes a couple of great points in this talk.

One of these is that repetition is necessary to build self-confidence.

No one just decides one day to have it, you have to practice and take steps to create it. It is a skill!

The second is that self-talk is extremely important.

You need to make a conscious effort to eliminate negative self-talk and create more positive self-talk for yourself.

I hope you enjoy it too!


Building Self Confidence

Character Strengths Evaluation & Information

If someone asked you to list some of your character strengths as a person, would you be able to come up with a few? Any?

This is a question that tends to be difficult to answer for a lot of people. Often it is much easier to identify negative qualities rather than the positive.

This might simply mean that you are a modest person and it is uncomfortable to put a lot of focus on your strengths. Perhaps you feel that it isn’t attractive for a person to boast, and that this comes too close to feeling like you are boasting. And maybe it reveals low self-esteem. No matter what the reason, it can be helpful–and interesting–to explore your own strengths and think about how they may have come about.

This can help build self-esteem, or if nothing else it might help you in your next job interview!

One way to identify and appreciate your own good qualities and character strengths is to take the questionnaire I am about to describe.

It can be found at http://www.authentichappiness.com.

Once you are at the site and you have set up a login for yourself, scroll down until you find “VIA Survey of Character Strengths.” VIA stands for values in action, because our strengths reflect the values that we hold most important. There are 240 questions but don’t let that number worry you, it usually doesn’t take long to complete. When you are done, you will receive a list of 24 character strengths in the order of importance for YOU.

Your results can be used to reflect on what each of the strengths means to you, and how it may have developed and become as important as it is. You may gain insight from the ranking, or even be surprised that a particular one ranks higher than another.

Taking the time to answer those questions and reflect on your strengths can help you know yourself just a little bit better, and perhaps even find ways to utilize those strengths more in your life.

Holistic Health

Is Emotional Eating the Reason You Can’t Lose Weight?

Emotional Eating and Dietings

Many of us have tried multiple diets, plans, and suggestions trying to lose weight. They often work and we do lose some unwanted pounds, but before you know it the weight comes right back. Emotional eating might be the culprit behind this for you, as it is for a lot of people that experience the same thing. If you can figure out your own triggers and take steps to avoid emotional eating, you can get right to the root of the problem and help yourself keep those pounds off for good.

First of all, what do I mean by “emotional eating?”

This means that instead of eating because you are hungry and your body needs nutritious food, you eat to soothe uncomfortable emotions such as boredom, anger, sadness, depression, or loneliness. These are only a few examples, but are the most common emotions that I have heard my clients and acquaintances say cause them to reach for chips, ice cream, a candy bar, or whatever is handy in the refrigerator or pantry.

Emotional eating can become a problem in managing your weight in a subtle way. There are two common reasons for this. One, a person doesn’t typically just start eating to soothe painful emotions on a given day. What happens is that you learn over time that you can feel better (temporarily!) if you eat when something is bothering you. Each time you were feeling stressed and a nice meal or your favorite snack made you feel happy for a while, this reinforced it. The second most common reason is that many of us have been socialized to look at food as something that is soothing, either through television and movies, or by growing up in a family in which food was part of the atmosphere when problems were solved. If you ever went to Grandma’s house for comfort after the family dog died and she made chocolate chip cookies to help you feel better, you know exactly what I mean.

After years of this these influences, picture yourself after a day at work in which your boss informed you that you have new responsibilities you will have to learn how to do without taking away any of the existing responsibilities you have, and you had a disagreement with a co-worker that didn’t end well. You arrive at home feeling tired, angry, worried you won’t have time to manage all your work, and wondering if the disagreement you had will change your relationship with your co-worker in a negative way. You grab a bag of pretzels to munch on while you think about what to have for dinner, and then notice there is only a little cheese left in its package so you finish that off, and a few chocolates from the bowl on the table taste good … and you can imagine that by now you already you feel better, and you haven’t even decided what to have for dinner.

Times of stress make us vulnerable. And each person’s pattern is different. You may eat more than you know you should at a meal, snack in between meals, discover that you’ve eaten an entire bag of chips while you were reading that novel, or something else.

If any of this sounds familiar, then the tips to avoid emotional eating I’ve listed below can help.

1) The first step is to identify the type of events and emotions that trigger emotional eating for you. When you can identify the most common situations that lead to emotional eating, you are more aware so you can consciously decide not to let that situation lead to overeating and you can prepare and plan alternatives to emotional eating such as planning a week’s worth of menus or taking healthy snacks to work with you. A food diary may help you identify the events and emotions if you use the diary to record a brief summary of daily events, emotions, and be sure to write down everything you eat. After a few weeks, you are likely to see some patterns.

2) Are there underlying problems? Long standing emotional issues, past traumatic experiences, depression, losses, or other issues can sabotage the best intentions in managing your weight. Counseling can help by assisting you in coping with problems in a healthy way.

3) Take care of yourself. Of course, it is important to take care of the basics of eating healthy, getting some exercise, and getting enough sleep each night. But what I mean by taking care of yourself is more about self-care, or making sure you have some time to relax and do activities you enjoy. Every day. This is particularly important during times of stress, even though this is when you are least likely to have time for yourself.

If you are interested in reading more about emotional eating, a good reference is Geneen Roth’s Breaking Free From Emotional Eating.