Your number ONE  insurance policy is to invest in your health. Health is a balance of physical, mental, and spiritual.  These are the lessons I’ve learned on my constant journey towards optimum health.

By Anna Shevel

If you can’t do organic, do whole foods. Garbage in garbage out and our food system is toxic – get as much unprocessed food as possible into your diet. Fall in love with drinking water.
Our bodies’ systems were made to move – movement helps our lymphatic system detox, toxins in our bodies affect our mood and mental processes, exercise releases serotonin and getting out of the house breaks feelings of stuckness and apathy with new sensory inputs. Like me, if you’re not disciplined enough to exercise, find a friend who’ll do stuff with you sometimes or join a class or find a trainer. Once a week can do wonders.
DETOX! Detoxing on a physical level enables letting go on an emotional level. Find someone qualified to guide you to do this and do it annually.
DANCE! Dance by yourself when no one is watching.
Our physical health, our guts, our lungs, our blood, our cells, have a direct relationship with our mental and emotional health.
Stress is the biggest cause of ill health and ill mental health. Try and observe where stress manifests in your body – Is it your shoulders? Do you hold your breath?  Does your stomach knot?  Do you clench your teeth or make tight fists? Observe yourself, observe your stress responses, try let it go, relax, unwind yourself every time you become aware of it…. and over time unwinding will become a greater habit than tensing up.
Sleeplessness is the worst compounder of stress and mental illness. The world will always feel more hostile or hopeless or scary through the lens of a drained being because it sets our fight or flight response into overdrive. The greatest antidote for insomnia that I have found, is simply observing and bringing all my attention to my breath when my mind is running – and getting away into nature – camping – anything. If you cant get away go find a big tree to lie under until you are grounded. Do it often. Get into the sea. Deep nature immersion helps to reset our nervous systems.
Learn how your mind works and understand that you are not your mind. Don’t believe everything you think. Your mind is a habit – a chattering voice habit shaped by past experiences and other people’s voices. Your past experiences shape your beliefs. Your beliefs are just beliefs –  not the truth.  If they don’t serve you, learn how to change them.  Your mind is the only voice that will be with you for life, if it is not behaving like your best friend and biggest supporter, raising you up and encouraging you, silence it until it learns how to treat you supportively, with kindness and respect.
Music is the tool that can change our mental and emotional state instantly. Find the music you love and when you feel stuck play something that shifts your state. If you’re stuck in a loop find ways to disrupt it.
Love your body – it’s always doing its best for you and everything physical is to do with your mind, your experiences, your emotions – not your body. Don’t punish or hate your body for the habits/coping mechanisms of your mind. Love your body unconditionally for the miracles it performs no matter what you put it through. Forgive it, accept it, thank it.
I found that how much I criticised others was a reflection of how much I critisised myself. I trained myself to see love and beauty in everyone instead of finding faults, even with “ugly” people or people I disliked. I started to love and accept myself more and more as I deepened this practice.
“NO” – is the most powerful word to use. Learn how to say no to people, places, dynamics to whom/ where you leak energy. We are trained to people-please. Boundaries enable self-worth.
Be patient with yourself. Habits take repetition over a lot of time to form and so they take repetition over a lot of time to un-form too.
Find mentors or coaches for the areas of your life you want to grow or improve in. It’s always easier to stand on the shoulders of giants.
And if you need help get it – don’t let shame get in the way of asking.  Everyone falls, everyone falls apart. It’s ok to be a mess. No tiger is an island.
Spiritual health comes from doing things that make us feel happy. Write a list of all the things you love doing, and do one of them every day. If you haven’t yet found a way to work in something you love and believe in –  get involved as a hobby.  It will be the stepping stone towards vocational fulfillment and living an inspiring life that you love.
Remember to have fun and be silly sometimes.
Rest – If you don’t make time to rest, something may happen that incapacitates you, and forces you to rest at a very inconvenient time.
Resourcefulness is more important than resources. Doesn’t matter what you don’t have or can’t do – work with what you do have and can do and build on that.
Practice gratitude religiously as often as possible, after a while it becomes a habit. When you count your blessings, your blessings multiply.

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Anna Shevel is a Mensch Network Member and partner of the SA Jewish Response to Covid-19 & Beyond Campaign that calls on us all to educate ourselves and help those in need in whatever way we can. Acting collectively as a Jewish community allows us to amplify and extend our impact. Join us!