Between work, relationship maintenance, current events, and a common propensity for “doom scrolling”, it’s easy to see why stress is on the rise for many adults. With that, it’s even easier to see why so many people want to improve their lives by turning to a more wellness-based, holistic approach.
The concept of holistic health is rapidly gaining popularity all over the world, and it makes sense: emotional wellness, physical wellness, social wellness, and mental wellness all go hand in hand. When one is imbalanced, the others can often follow.
This is where Deepak Chopra’s 7 Pillars of Life are rooted.
The 7-pillar approach takes a look at every aspect of our physical, emotional, social, and mental health, which allows us to craft the necessary building blocks for long-term results. From getting enough sleep to building a routine to just laughing more often, every part of ourselves is covered.
Of course, there is no catch-all cure for sadness and stress, nor any instant solution for our problems. However, Deepak Chopra’s 7 Pillars of Life is an effective way to develop the habits necessary to not only find results but maintain them throughout our life.
1. Emotional Regulation
Emotion plays a big role in our day-to-day lives. With that in mind, it can be easy to get overwhelmed, and even at times lose touch with our own emotions and reactions. This is the foundation of pillar 1 – implementing practices to help regulate our inner thoughts and feelings.
Here are some helpful ways to keep your emotional wellness regulated, while still staying in touch with how you feel:
Big Picture Thinking
Life is so much bigger than us. Consider this concept the next time you encounter an upsetting or troubling event and understand that there is an ultimate purpose of wellness. Here’s a helpful place to start:
- Pause your perfectionism: It’s easy to get caught in the weeds and find yourself a little overloaded. Take a step back, acknowledge that minor mistakes are often inevitable, and try to find a larger opportunity to focus on.
- Look up: When we’re focusing on something, we typically look down in thought. According to scientists, looking up sparks more creative, deductive thinking – which can help us stay grounded and rational.
- Find acceptance: Take a moment and breathe. Accept the emotions you’re feeling, know that they’re temporary, and do your best to let them pass with every breath.
Pause Before Reacting
Taking a moment to gather yourself before reacting to a situation is sometimes the hardest thing that we as humans can do. Deepak Chopra recommends taking deep breaths for at least five minutes. In this time, notice how your muscles begin to relax, your heart rate slows, and your mind becomes calmer. Remind yourself that this too shall pass.
Negative thoughts bring negative emotions, and vice versa. This isn’t to say that negative emotions are completely avoidable, but there is a way to break the cycle! When negative thoughts emerge, try to replace them with a happier thought. The more you do this, the easier it becomes!
Find an Outlet
Keeping your emotions bottled often results in sudden outbursts or mood changes. Find a healthy, easy outlet to release that tension for your wellbeing. Some good examples include writing your emotions down in a journal (you’d be surprised how cathartic this can be), talking to a trusted friend, or seeing a therapist.
Studies show that 1 in 3 US adults report that they don’t get enough sleep. Lack of sleep often leads to feelings of fatigue and sluggishness during the daytime.
While we can’t totally change our routines in a day, here are some healthy habits you can try to get better sleep:
Establish a Sleeping Routine
The best way to implement change is through small, habit-forming increments. This means setting attainable goals to start and then building on from there.
For example, try focusing on one change in your routine a day to establish good habits. Maybe something like “I’ll be in bed by 10:30pm tonight” or “I'll get up at the same time tomorrow as I did today” – these are small changes that, through time, can lead to big results. After you’re comfortable, you can add on more challenging goals – eventually you’ll be getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, no problem!
Use Your Bed for Sleeping Only
While it can be pretty enticing to come home from work and throw yourself onto your bed, Deepak Chopra’s 7 pillars emphasize that using your bed for leisurely activities instead of sleeping can hardwire the brain into thinking that our bed is not a place to sleep.
Instead, try to only use your bed for sleeping, and designate a different space in your home for leisurely activities.
Short naps can be tempting, but it is a little hard to regulate – hitting ‘snooze’ one too many times can take our naps from the recommended 20-40 minutes to two plus hours.
As The Sleep Foundation tells us, naps that last longer than 40 minutes allow our brains to fall into an established REM cycle that, when interrupted, can lead to one feeling even more fatigued and out of focus than they were before they napped.
The invention of the internet and smartphones have made us champions of multitasking. We can fold laundry, plan our day, and read the news all while listening to a podcast. While it can be productive, it can be hard to stay in the present with so much going on. Practicing mindfulness is the perfect way to train yourself to live in the present.
Here are some examples:
Focus Your Senses
When we’re overwhelmed with anxious thoughts or ponderings of the future, focusing on your five senses can really help. Concentrate on what you feel, smell, hear, and see. Name them in your head, then let them go. This is a great way to get in tune with the present.
Meditation and mindfulness go hand-in-hand. Try to find a quiet space to be alone, if possible. This can be anything from an extra office room to a bedroom to a closet if it’s big enough. Focus on your breathing, and let your thoughts come and go without judgement. Try implementing a few meditation poses, practice for 5-10 minutes to start, and raise it from there.
Fight Urges and Cravings
One of the most heavily-studied methods to fight urges and cravings is to implement mindfulness. To do this, first try to allow cravings to pass – again, without judgement! It’s natural to have urges and cravings that aren’t always the healthiest choice for our physical wellness. Concentrate on the feeling and replace it with the knowledge that the urge or craving will fade.
There are so many ways to move your body! Physical wellness is incredibly important, and it’s just as important to find the right movement for you. Here’s a good breakdown of movements that can be implemented into your daily routine:
- Yoga: Yoga is the perfect way to connect physical, mental, emotional, and social wellness – the pinnacle practice of holistic health. Going to a regular yoga class can help you learn to stay mindful, practice your breathing, meditate, and get a good workout in the meantime.
- Pilates: Pilates are great for toning your muscles, staying limber, healing minor injuries, and like yoga, can help boost your social health simply by meeting new people in a regular class.
- Walk: High-intensity stretches and workouts don’t always work for everyone’s schedules or bodies. Taking 30-40 minutes a day to walk around the block (or even your house) is a great way to focus on the present and stay mindful.
- Stand and stretch: For those with jobs that require sitting for prolonged periods, try to stand up and stretch every 30 minutes, if possible. Not only is this good for our bodies, but it allows our minds to relax, take a breather from work, and focus on how we feel.
Most importantly, during your movement, remember to focus on your breathing, be in the moment, and stay grounded.
Nutrition plays a vital role in our overall wellbeing. Having a healthy, balanced diet is not only great for our own physical wellness, but it actually has a holistic effect on what we do and how we feel.
Here a couple of Deepak Chopra’s recommendations to stay on top of nutrition:
Plan Your Meals
Deepak Chopra provides us with science-backed advice for staying on top of nutrition: regular meal planning. Taking the time to plan out your meals is a great way to save finances, improve your cooking skills, and ensure you maintain a healthy, balanced diet. Try planning out your meals for the week and prepping them early when you have the time.
Check out our helpful guide here to learn about easy meal prep.
Adopt the Ayurveda Nutritional Method
Speaking of meal planning, it’s not always easy to incorporate all of the nourishing food you need in every meal. That’s why this pillar suggests you implement the Ayurveda Method. This set of guidelines not only helps you maintain a healthy balance of nutrients but encourages eating as a mindful practice. Here’s how to incorporate Ayurveda into your eating routine:
- Eliminate snacks
- Eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re full or uncomfortable
- Eat fresh, whole foods
- Include 6 tastes in every meal (salty, sour, sweet, bitter, astringent, pungent)
- Reduce exposure to cold foods and drinks
- Don’t eat with distractions (such as TV, phones, or games)
- Don’t eat 3 hours before bedtime
- Drink tea between meals
- Make lunch your largest meal
An often-overlooked aspect of our holistic health is the idea of social wellness – which is just as important as our physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Maintaining healthy relationships with those you love is essential in helping us grow and improve our wellbeing. Here’s how you can ensure healthy social ties:
Be Honest and Open
Emotional communication is essential in relationships. Try to break down any communication barriers or obstacles within your friendships or partnerships to ensure everyone feels heard and maintains trust and honesty.
Be Intentional and Don’t Ignore Red Flags
Consider every aspect of your relationship – how it makes you feel, how you spend your time with that person, etc. If you feel that your emotions with this person are often uncomfortable or unfulfilling, it may be time to move on.
Conversely, if you feel positive about your relationship, take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate it for what it is. This is a great way to ground yourself while thinking of those you love!
Finally, Deepak Chopra tells us that we should just laugh more often. This is the easiest one to follow – who doesn’t love to laugh, right? We could all use a little more laughter, so here’s how to add some smiles to your day:
- Try to smile more often
- Read a funny article, or text a friend
- Try to add some laughter to your morning routine (how you do this is up to you!)
Starting Your Journey to the 7 Pillars
We truly hope this has helped you on your journey towards holistic happiness. If you feel inspired to learn more or get a deeper understanding of the 7 Pillars of Life, we suggest enrolling in our Chopra Health Certification Course.
Perfect for beginners and pros of holistic health alike, this course immerses you in the world of Ayurvedic nutrition, wellbeing, meditation, emotional regulation, and more. By the end of this course, you’ll have gained the skills necessary to become a certified Ayurvedic professional.
Best of luck, and remember to breathe!