From the time we are children, we become accustomed to visiting our pediatrician or family doctor for an annual physical and to treat our injuries or illnesses. Those visits remain critical elements to lifelong health, but there’s a lot more to overall health than just physical well-being. Holistic medicine and related body-and-mind care practices date back thousands of years and are readily applied worldwide today to augment health by treating the whole person—mind and body—to maintain optimal physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health.
The upheaval in everyone’s lives since the arrival of COVID has precipitated unprecedented surges in physical and mental health issues for people of all ages. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. adults, in general, reported considerably elevated adverse mental-health conditions associated with the pandemic and quarantine times. Younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, “essential” workers, and unpaid adult caregivers reported having experienced disproportionately worse mental-health outcomes, increased substance abuse, and elevated suicidal ideation. The situation is serious and calls for increased intervention and prevention efforts.
Personalized, Compassionate Counseling
Research shows, time and again, the extensive benefits that mental healthfulness has on overall health—and many of those benefits can be realized through the process of mental-health counseling. It has been shown to improve communication and interpersonal skills, produce greater self-acceptance and self-esteem, help people change self-defeating behaviors, improve expression of emotions, provide relief from depression, anxiety, and other mental-health conditions, and more.
Clearwater Counseling (clearwatercounselingpc.org) is a private practice with locations in Omaha and Grand Island, and they treat mental-health diagnoses through personalized and compassionate counseling practices that promote growth, development, and well-being to enhance people’s quality of life, especially amid all the changes that have come about in our lives with the pandemic.
“Many people experience mental-health struggles at some point in their life,” said Clearwater Co-owner and CEO Kayla Leddy, who is a licensed independent mental health practitioner and a licensed independent professional counselor. “Mental health battles may vary from anxieties, behavioral, life transitions, depression, and stress, all of which can affect our mood, thoughts, and behaviors. We know change can be scary, but we are here to help guide you through those changes in life. While positive change is sometimes hard to identify, we strive to help clients identify the good things that are happening in their lives. At Clearwater Counseling, we offers in-person and Telehealth services to help people address virtually every condition that affects their mental health—everything from depression to relationship matters, addiction, parenting issues, abuse, coping skills, professional development, marital problems, family conflicts, self-harm, life-threatening illness, and more.”
Reveal & Heal Health and Wellness Coaching (www.revealandheal.coach) is a new business in Omaha that uses a functional medicine model. Owner Emily Gilli said functional medicine considers the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—while getting to the root causes and underlying factors affecting health and well-being. It is a holistic approach that empowers people to identify values and strengths, set goals, and access internal motivations that lead to lasting lifestyle changes. The pandemic has increased the need for holistic-health strategies.
“COVID has created an increased sense of loneliness and fear,” Emily said. “It has impacted our sense of community, moving some people from very socially interactive jobs to working at home and keeping us from visiting our loved ones in senior-care facilities. Both loneliness and fear increase levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in our systems, leading to weight gain, sleep disturbances, increased blood pressure, fatigue, irritability, intestinal problems like constipation, bloating, and diarrhea, all of which have lasting effects on our overall health.”
In this environment, there are a few things that people can do to improve their health, even with an overload or a lack of motivation. The keys are to start small and focus on activities that help you feel fulfilled.
“Make smaller changes that you can live with,” Emily advised. “When you are training for a marathon, you don’t start out running 26 miles. You might start out walking. The same thing applies with all aspects of health improvement. Pick one thing, set small goals, and commit to that small process, feel success, and add new goals when you feel solid with your new routines.”
“Negative self-talk is highly destructive to our mental state and affects our bodies at a cellular level,” Emily said. “Being kind and accepting of yourself as you are right now is some of the best medicine. Studies also show that slowing down and breathing mindfully can have a profound impact on our state of mind, ability to focus and relieve stress. Focusing on your breath brings you out of fight-or-flight mode and into a rest-and-digest state that, even for one minute, helps your body heal.”
The Power of Touch
There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has been stressful. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that stress leads to fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones, as well as your financial situation or loss of support services you depend on. Changes in sleeping and eating, difficulty concentrating, worsening of chronic physical and mental health problems, and increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances also have proven common in the wake of COVID.
“Everything about a person is interconnected,” said Tammy Longacre, massage therapist for Creative Hair Design Salon & Spa (creativehairdesign.com). “What a person feels emotionally also impacts their physical state. The power of touch is very important. With COVID, many of us are secluded to our homes, transforming our dining-room tables into an office, which isn’t ergonomically correct, and wearing masks when we are in public, which affects us socially because we aren’t seeing smiles anymore. Humans need to be around people. We need touch and interaction. We need structure.”
Creative Hair Design various modalities of massage therapy to ease your pain, inside and out. That includes Swedish, stone, and deep-tissue massage, which is a terrific option if you have chronic muscle problems like soreness, injury, or imbalance, and reflexology massage, which stimulates certain areas of your feet and promotes health and well-being. They also offer couples massage, so you can work out the kinks with your friend or significant other! For the expecting or lactating mother, there’s nothing more relieving than one of their prenatal massages, and a dip in the hydrotherapy tub is fantastic for your lymph system.
“With so many things being canceled or closed, make a special effort to find healthy alternatives to keep your physical mental, spiritual, emotional, and social health a priority,” Tammy said. “Massage and self-care are a terrific place to start!”
God’s Got Your Back
Entrepreneur Judith Ngozi Obodougo created her Omaha business, God’s Got Your Back, LLC (godsgotyourbackllc.com), very much with whole body-and-mind health in mind. A single mother and the author of two books about navigating difficult paths in life as she had from the time she was a child in Nigeria through living today in Omaha, Judith produces apparel with the “God’s Got Your Back” messages on them and sells natural products out of her health and beauty shop to help people achieve overall health. That includes the Forever Aloe Vera products that she recently introduced to her inventory.
“Aloe vera products are tremendous for protecting your skin against free radicals and from the dryness caused by the increased stress of the times,” Judith said. “It also has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, aids in digestion, and speeds wound healing, which can strengthen your immune system!” With everything Judith does, her message is the same: “People can achieve anything in life if they know, first and foremost, to trust in God.”
Whole-mind-and-body health begins with you, but Omaha residents are blessed to have access to professionals that can help you find and fit every piece of the puzzle together. Don’t wait to achieve holistic health. Get started today!