It’s Not a Game, It’s a Lifestyle
By Raven Carey-James
Over the past year, I’ve been struggling to find happiness. I spend 8+ hours a day at a job I’m not passionate about, live in an apartment I can’t afford, and barely have time to look in the mirror before leaving the house, let alone for simple pleasures like getting my hair done, or finding a cute new outfit. With life’s everyday stresses, it becomes easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, so this month, I made the decision to do something for me.
Instead of turning to vices like binge eating and Netflix, I wanted to give myself a chance to reset my mind, body and spirit, naturally, while exploring what it meant to live a more holistic lifestyle.
Holistic Living and What It Means
Holistic living is conscious living. It’s about making smarter decisions regarding your physical, mental and emotional health. The goal of the holistic lifestyle is to become self-aware and to achieve balance between your external and internal self.
I view it as a way to take ownership of one’s life. There are a lot of things we cannot control, believe me, I get it; but there are also many things we CAN control. Life is a series of choices. You choose what you buy, what foods you eat, what activities you do, how you feel about yourself and how you treat others. It’s empowering to know you have a say in how you look and feel every day; but like everything else, nothing comes for free. If you’re thinking of embarking on a holistic journey, there are some things you need to know first.
Step 1: Assessing Your “Why”
When I was in pursuit of joining my sorority, they told me that my why should make me want to cry. This essentially meant that my reasons for joining the sisterhood had to be deep and meaningful. Now I’m not suggesting that you need to have a sob story, but what I am saying is that you should approach the holistic lifestyle with a sense of seriousness and commitment. The journey to becoming more health conscious takes discipline, and in order to stick with it, you have to do it for the right reasons. Trying to “get right” for the summer isn’t going to be enough when you’re faced with unlimited cookies at a work function, so keep your motives in check and plan accordingly.
Step 2: Developing a Plan
It’s helpful to set clear and frequent goals, for example, when I wake up every morning I pray, then I tell myself 3 “I am” statements. “I am going to go to the gym today, I am going to reach out to a friend I haven’t heard from, I am going to pack a salad for lunch.” This encourages accountability and helps prepare me for the day. It also allows me to feel like I’ve accomplished things and made valuable use of my time, which is what this lifestyle requires. It is an investment of time, money and energy to research the products you use before you buy them, spend a little more money on groceries and set time aside to meditate and reflect. It’s easy to fall off the wagon when you’re starting out, but remember Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be patient, be reasonable with your expectations and challenge yourself to see it through by coming up with a detailed strategy.
Step 3: Assembling Your Squad
Support is everything. No one wants to feel like they’re going through a significant life change alone. There are wonderful communities of Black women who are willing to extend an olive branch and uplift others, take advantage of that. Join a targeted Facebook or Meetup group, reach out to contacts in your area or online network, who promote healthy living. Ask questions, trade recipes, go to yoga classes. Having a team of people in your corner will keep you motivated on the days you’re not really feeling it.
Step 4: Action
Lastly…Ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it. Set your start date and take the plunge. Once you’ve determined that this is the path for you, planned ahead and found a supportive team, it’s time to put your preparation into practice! Surrender yourself to the process and go at your own pace. Take ownership of your happiness and reclaim your mind, body, and spirit.