Ep 2: An Introduction to Thriving with Holistic Mental Wellness Practices

Published on: Mar 7, 2024

Discover how a whole-person approach can unravel the complex web of mental, physical, and emotional health, offering a path to profound healing and transformation. We navigate the importance of sleep, nutrition, and emotional stability, underscoring the synergistic relationship between different aspects of our well-being. 

By shifting our view from a symptom-focused to a root-cause approach, we’ll learn to treat the entire person, not just the ailment, for a more vibrant life. Join me as we uncover the potential of these tools to bring about meaningful changes in our day-to-day routines.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • An overview and the intricacies of holistic mental wellness
  • How stress is the silent saboteur of health & strategies to break free from its grip
  • Learn insights on the potency of meditation and other stress management techniques that can transition our nervous system towards a state of resiliency
  • The undeniable effect that the gut-brain axis and heart-brain connection have on mental health and our physical state
  • A self-assessment exercise, inviting you to connect with your own journey towards a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle

If you feel called to, please share your reflections with me, Haley, by emailing howdy@thefulfilledfork.com. I’d absolutely love to hear from you.




Please note that the following transcript was generated using AI technology. Yes, that means the transcript probably has a few minor mistakes.

[0:47] Hello. Today, I want to talk about what even is holistic mental wellness.
I realize that not everybody probably is on the same page.
Holistic mental wellness is a, of course, whole person modality.
So instead of looking at one part of a person, so such as in a dietician’s case, generally, we just look at one part, which is mostly nutrition.
You know, we might do a little little bit of movement and stuff like that.
But unless you’re licensed in other things, such as myself, then generally you just focus on nutrition.
So rather than going to the therapist who only speaks to one issue, the holistic model looks at everything, And not to say that there aren’t holistic therapists and holistic dietitians and holistic anything, because there certainly are.
But I’m just speaking to the general practice.

[1:58] Not calling anybody out. Those things are so needed. Absolutely needed.
We need those specialists, essentially.
So, yeah, nothing against any of those guys. When we are looking at the whole person holistic model, we are talking about a few different factors here.
So that’s the mental piece, the physical piece, the social piece, spiritual, and emotional pieces.
That’s a lot of pieces. And within those different areas, there are many more pieces.
Like the tree just continues to branch out.
So if I’m thinking about physical, I have sleep, and I have nutrition, and I have movement. I have several different branches.
So that’s one example of how each of these areas will have different branches and they all link together.
That’s the other thing to think about in holistic wellness is that when we’re not looking at the body as separate parts, we’re looking at it as a whole.
So we also have to understand that.

[3:22] When everything is connected, that also means that there’s communication between everything.
It’s not just that everything links together. There is no separation.
There is no separation between the parts. Yes, we can isolate parts, but we are looking at the person as a whole, and we know that humans are complex beings, so we can’t separate it out. That’s my belief, anyway.

Exploring the Mental Wellness Piece

[3:54] So, that’s the holistic part. With the holistic mental wellness part, what is the mental wellness piece?
So, we talked about the branches of the mental wellness, so it’s not just the brain, because a lot of times when we think about mental wellness, we just think, hmm, okay, that means my brain. We might even say that might mean my emotions as well.
Sometimes we think about that. But in general, when we are thinking about mental, we think about thinking, we think about memories, we just think about our brain for the most part.
Holistic mental wellness encompasses the whole body not just the mental body there’s also the physical body there’s also the spiritual body we know that all of these are just so important and we can’t just focus on one piece because if we if we only focus on.

[4:51] We’ll say nutrition. If I only focus on nutrition and I fail to address somebody’s sleep issues, we’re not going to get to the root of the problem.
Like, we’re not going to solve what’s actually going on. Because maybe if this person has, this person’s chronically stressed, they can’t sleep, they’ve gained a bunch of weight over the last couple years, so it’s been a lot, there’s been been a lot of stress with the pandemic and all that, and I know this is a story that so many people can relate to, and it’s not a story in many people’s lives.
Like, it is, they’re living it, they have lived it, and it is very real.
So, if, say, this person has developed abdominal obesity, they’ve gained some pounds, they’re not, they’re not happy about it, they’re feeling even worse about themselves because they’ve gained this weight.
And if I just addressed the nutrition piece, if I said, hey, you know, let’s work on mindful eating, let’s look at your blood sugar, let’s look at these other pieces.

[6:02] If I did not ask them about their sleep, I might not know that, hey, this person is, yes, they are eating, maybe they have some disordered eating habits and they are binging on snacks, cookies, candies, whatever it is.

[6:20] If they are doing that, if I’m not looking at it in a holistic point of view, I’m just going to focus on, yeah, let’s do the mindful eating.
Let’s balance your blood sugar and make sure that we don’t have any spikes from the candy or or whatever else there may be. And…
Without looking at the sleep piece, I just completely miss the fact that this person might be actually craving these foods because of their poor sleep.
That’s huge. So if I was just looking at the food pieces, I would be neglecting potentially the issue of the problem.
The food pieces, yeah, they’ll get us somewhere.
The person might lose a little bit of weight if that’s how their body responds, but it’s still not addressing the cause.
So that person would still be fighting against sugar cravings.
They would still potentially be binging.
It would be really, really, really hard for that person to reach their goals, because we’re not looking at the whole piece. So just keep that in mind.
We just have to look at the whole person. I firmly believe this.
And instead of looking at a person in a reactionary.

[7:45] Way, I really, really think that being proactive and not just think, but feel and believe and know that being proactive in our health and instead of just isolating a certain condition and only looking at it from one cause, we have to address everything.

[8:12] Or that person is just going to continue to suffer and not get better.
And it’s not to say that one person, like such as myself, if I am your practitioner or your coach, it’s not to say that I can help you with every single piece, because maybe I realize like, oh man, this person has really hardcore insomnia.
And yes, I can help with some sleep hygiene and really help with those lifestyle factors.
But if there comes a point where I feel like I cannot do the best for that person within my scope of practice, within my just abilities, then I’m going to refer that person out.
So it’s not to say that there’s only one person that can solve all of your problems.
That is an expectation that is just impossible.
That’s like dating somebody and expecting them to to solve all your problems.
It’s literally the same thing. That person is not going to solve all of your problems, right?

[9:14] But the coach, our job is to help you navigate all of these factors.
There’s a lot of factors and you might be overwhelmed thinking, oh my God, Haley, there’s so many factors.
Which one do I start with? Which one is the most important?
I don’t know. I don’t have the awareness of all the science behind everything.
I don’t know what I need to be doing. I know something’s wrong, but I don’t know what I need to do.
Um, or I feel bad, maybe not, maybe not incredibly, incredibly terrible, but I just don’t feel my best.
It could be either one of these situations. It can be a lot of things with, with where you’re at.

[9:59] The role of the coach is to help you navigate where to start, what is the most important piece.
If we’re going back to our previous example of the person who is very, very stressed out and is having sleep issues and maybe some nutrition issues as well, in that case, for this person, my first instinct would be to work on stress.
We need to work on your stress management because the stress is probably causing some of your sleep problems, and it’s also causing high cortisol.

[10:40] I’m not talking about acute stress. I’m talking about chronic stress.
So financial stress, job stress, relationship stress, dieting stress.
That stress, if you’re dieting, that’s stress on your body. It is stress.
It causes increased cortisol.
Just remember that, okay? Okay, so please don’t, please, please, please don’t go on a diet if you’re trying to lose weight.
That is not, that is not the answer. Please don’t go on a, on a very restrictive diet.
And when I’m thinking diet, I’m talking like the typical diet where people will cut out certain food groups and not really, they’re doing it not because of a like medical condition to where their body does not tolerate that food, they’re doing it for other reasons.
So they’re not doing it for allergy or tolerance-related issues or for medical issues.
They’re doing it for weight loss and different things like that.
So that’s the distinction there.
With our example, the stress is the most important piece because if that person continues to be stressed, stressed, they’re not going to sleep well.

[11:56] And then come the next day, they’re going to be craving those high sugar foods, just craving the heck out of them.
They might even be on a diet as well. And if they’re on a diet, you know what?
Their body’s going to crave them even more because they’re probably not eating enough calories.
They’re probably not structuring their meals in a way that is satiating and satisfying for a long period of time.
So maybe their meal is not covering their energy and nutrient needs.
They’re not getting enough calories, they’re not getting enough protein, they’re not getting enough carbohydrates, all of those things.
So the person is.

[12:41] Stressed, their cortisol is going up because of this diet, because of the lack of sleep.
There’s just so, so many areas where this can turn into such a vicious cycle, like such a cycle that is incredibly hard to get out of.
And it just makes us feel worse and worse and worse the longer this goes on.
And maybe the person continues to gain weight and their energy levels continue to to go down and their sleep gets worse.
And so now, instead of just being a little bit tired, yeah, maybe they have full-blown insomnia at this point.
And now they’re on a medication where they’re having side effects from that, like nutrition side effects where there might even be more weight gain or all kinds of things.
I could go into this so hardcore and give you 10,000 different scenarios than what a person might be experiencing.
I digress. I will stop there.

[13:47] I don’t need to keep going down that rabbit hole. But I think you get the point where this cycle will continue until we break it, until we interject a tool, a modality, into one of these areas.
So for this example, it is I, the coach, or maybe you or somebody else recognizes, oh man, okay, stress is my biggest, that is my biggest challenge right now.
And I think if I start addressing that, it’ll kind of domino effect for the rest of my health. It’ll really get the ball rolling.
So we interject into the stress piece.


Addressing Stress for Better Health

[14:33] And maybe for this particular person, it is, what does this person need?
This person needs some meditation.
Why does this person need meditation? This person is having a difficult time flipping the switch between the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

[14:52] So what does that mean? That is a mouthful.
Number one, I do have some resources on this.
If you are receiving my emails, you will have watched or listened to, hopefully watched or listened to a class that I have on this and how the nervous system and the gut interact.
So I talked about the nervous system a little bit in there, but I’ll give you a general overview. view.
So the sympathetic is our fight or flight. That is our on button. Like, I’m going.
I am on. I am going. The parasympathetic nervous system is more of our rest and digest.
So that is where we are more calm and relaxed and our body is able to go literally through the digestion process Because if we are triggered and we are on, then we are not going to digest as well.

[15:51] So an example of that would be if I am super anxious, my body is probably not going to be digesting foods. I may have some gut issues.
I think that they’re gut issues, but they’re not actually gut issues.
It’s a nervous system problem because I am just in my sympathetic nervous system response all the time.
Anyway, so I am choosing the meditation for this particular person because this tool, meditation, can help them flip from being in that really activated sympathetic state, the nervous system state, And we can get them into more of a calm and relaxed parasympathetic state via meditation and say that this practice is helping this person flip into that state.

[16:55] Rest and digest state, maybe we have them do it before bed and we’re like having this person, create a routine in which they can physically and mentally wind down and get into this parasympathetic state, that is going to help that person sleep.
Even if it just helps them sleep tiny, tiny, tiny bit better, right?
It’s still going to help. And then the next day, because that person got better sleep, now we are not as hungry for sugar.
We’re not craving sugar anymore. We’re not craving carbohydrates anymore.
We are wanting healthy foods. We’re feeling a lot better. We feel more mental clarity because we slept better.
Our physical body has recovered better.
Like there are so many benefits to all this.
And this is just an example of how how interjecting one piece into that cycle can really, really, really be beneficial.
So that’s part of my job is to help you figure out where is the interjection most needed.
And this is more of a, I don’t know the right word to use.

[18:09] It’s, I don’t want to use extreme case because it’s not, it’s so very normal.
Like this is a very normal thing to be experiencing. experiencing um normal in the sense that a lot of people experience it it’s not normal for our bodies to experience this though um if that makes sense so this is more of a not extreme case but it’s a it’s a case where there is a lot more going on we’ll put it that way so there’s there’s just a lot more going on for this person and they are maybe more trapped in the cycle than somebody else.
So this works no matter where you’re at.
And that could be, for example, this person is.

[18:54] In the cycle, they’re in the cycle really deep, right? And the next person maybe experiences a few of these things.
And so that’s like a person who is more so looking to optimize rather than to just feel better.
Like, it’s not when we’re, like when I was in the bottom, I was in the bottom of the barrel.
I had hit one of my many rock bottoms and not many, but I had several.

[19:26] So when I had, I’m thinking of one in particular.
So I had this like rock bottom moment.
And at that point, I just needed, I needed fucking anything to get a little bit better. I just needed something.
I needed something. I wasn’t looking to optimize at that point.
So hopefully this example helps you understand where I’m coming from as far as the scale.
So everyone exists on this continuum and it’s just an order of severity.
So yeah, am I experiencing more issues?
Maybe they’re more severe, or maybe I’m in the middle, or maybe I’m just on the other end where I have a couple of things, but I’m really just looking to optimize and feel my absolute best.
So there’s a difference between all the stages, but the work is the same.
So we’re still doing holistic work, and we are not isolating a certain piece.
We are in an active process that helps you break out of whatever cycle you are in and literally write a new story for yourself.

[20:48] With that, I want to say that for these people who are more on the optimization spectrum side side of the spectrum, I want you to know that just because, so if this person doesn’t have a disease, right?
So the absence of disease doesn’t mean that you feel well. And this could be a person in the middle end of the spectrum as well.
Just because you don’t have a disease doesn’t mean you feel well.

[21:18] You internally likely have a nudge, a thought.
It could be just like an internal knowing that there is something better out there for you.
And this is part of your like reptilian brain your your the pieces of your brain that are connected to your gut that are connected to your heart and they are telling you that there is a way to feel better so please don’t ignore those signs please do not ignore them they are not false they they are so real.
I know most people have either had a gut or a heart reaction or something of the sort where you just know, like you know, and you know you’re right and you don’t know why you’re right and you don’t know how you know and you can’t explain it to anybody else because it’s literally just not something that is, it’s not verbal.
You cannot verbalize it because it is, It is a prehistoric knowing in your body.

[22:27] Yeah, so it’s communication in the body that is not through the mental awareness.
So please don’t ignore that. The next piece that I want to get into is that I truly believe that holistic wellness is, and I’m going to use the word should, should be the first thing that people do to improve their health, to improve their physical health, to improve health in general.
And yes, I’m talking about the people who.

[23:08] Came into my clinical practice, into my practice as a clinical dietitian, like they were referred to me for IBS.
And when it got down to it, when I started digging into what was going on, I knew that the reason they were having these IBS symptoms, and IBS is just the absence of of like an actual medical diagnosis, right?
There’s symptoms going on, but we don’t know what it is. That’s when people are diagnosed with IBS.
So these people would come in and I would ask them these questions.

[23:47] Immediately, I knew that mental wellness, like that was the thing that they needed.
I knew that because how we feel, number one, is not only in our heads.
It comes from our physical body.
So when I mentioned the heart feeling and the gut feeling, like there is a gut brain access via the vagus nerve and the nervous system.
There’s communication there and also the immune system communicates from the gut.
And then we also, of course, we have our brain.
And so the gut is communicating with the brain and back and forth, like our body is communicating with each other.
And the same thing happens with our heart and our cardiovascular system.
So how we feel is not just in our head, it is in our body.
It is a very physical, real thing.

[24:43] And if we work on mental wellness first, physical health always follows.
Yes, I’m going to to use always. I really try to refrain from using that word, but I 1000% believe that if we address the issues which holistic health helps with, if you have anything going on where holistic health is part of the solution, is part of a plan for you to feel better, then your physical health is going to follow because you have better energy. You are sleeping better.
You are able to switch between the fight and fight state and into a resting state, a resting and connection based state.
The best example of this is.

[25:39] If I can help somebody improve their stress through whatever modality, it depends on the person. We’ll say breathwork for this example.
If this person is using breathwork as one of their many tools and maybe their stress improves even just a fraction, it improves just a little bit, then one, there’s that glimmer of, holy shit, I can do this.
Holy shit, I can feel better because I already am feeling a little bit better.
Like, I can feel it. and because they have that then they in turn when you have the mental wellness then you’re gonna say oh i’m feeling like i’m feeling a little bit better oh my god i really feel like, choosing a healthy dinner for tonight or i’m gonna make i’m actually gonna make my own dinner versus going and getting a boxed pizza or just a pizza in general for the third time this week And I’ve, like, actually experienced this.
That was a real example from me.

[26:43] So, I have, I’ve never been in your shoes, I’ve never been in your body.
I do not know what it is like to be you, right?
But I know what it is like to experience living in what I have previously referred to if you’ve listened to my other podcasts just like feeling like complete shit all the time and like that’s your normal I have I have been there and I have been on both ends of the spectrum where I’m incredibly anxious.
I’m incredibly depressed.

[27:23] I’ve been in bull. And I can absolutely relate to some of the things that you’re feeling.
So you’re not alone in this, number one. You don’t have to be alone.


The Importance of Connection in Health

[27:39] If you don’t want to be. And with the alone piece, we are, here’s a little side note.
So with the alone piece, we are biologically driven to isolate ourselves when we feel bad.
Like that’s just our first instinct is to go crawl into a hole.
And I’ve also like referenced this for myself.
I’ve been there a lot in my younger years.
That was my normal, want to crawl all into a hole. And just, I socially isolated myself. I physically isolated myself.
And it wasn’t until I started connecting really with my first therapist that I started getting better because connection is what helps people. That was my first step.
And maybe you’ve had a therapist, Maybe you’ve had some other sort of connection, a friend, a coworker, whoever, a partner that has helped you with that connection piece and helped you feel a little bit better.

[28:45] And that is what I also do as a coach is part of my role is to provide that connection.
So not just help you figure out what modalities to use, the science behind everything, working through problems.
I’m not here to just help with the technical nitty-gritty education, what I call EAT.
This is my process, the education, the alignment, and the transformation.
So I’m not here to just help you with that.
I am here to help you do all of that plus connect with you.
That is part of what brings me joy in my role as a dietitian and a coach.
And all of the things. That is what brings me joy.
I genuinely enjoy connecting with people and I know how much connection helped me be able to really take control and interject in my story.

Self-Assessment for Mental Wellness

[29:53] Okay, that was pretty deep, guys. That was pretty deep.
So I want to leave you with a self-assessment of sorts.
I recommend journaling to these questions.
If journaling’s not your thing, no worries.

[30:12] Yeah, just ponder. So my first question is to help you, well, I guess all the questions are really to help you understand where you are on the spectrum and like get to the kind of the root cause or some causes that might be going on for you.
So just a better awareness is what we’re going for here.
So the first question is, how are you feeling most days of the week? Are you feeling poor?
Would you rate yourself as feeling fair? Are you feeling good?
Or are you feeling fucking excellent?

[30:49] I want you to look at that at, poor, fair, good, or excellent, and note where you are on just that continuum, which is like the most simple of all continuums.
So note where you are and don’t, it’s not wrong. Wherever you are is not wrong.
There is nothing wrong with that.
It just, it is what it is. And we have to acknowledge where we’re at to take the next step forward.
Literally even to take one tiny step. I’ve got got to know where I’m at.
So this question kind of goes, or the next two questions kind of go along with this first question. So first one, how are you feeling most days of the week?
The second question is, how often are you feeling negative mood states?
And then the flip side of that, so the third question is, how often are you experiencing positive mood states?
Again, nothing wrong with where you’re at. Just take note. Take note of where you are.

[31:47] All right. The last question is, out of the main causes of low mood states, which ones are you experiencing?
And you can even make it a fraction. So maybe I’m experiencing three out of four or one out of four, right?
So this kind of just helps you understand the breadth of the problem.
So what is the scope of the situation that I am in currently?
Again, I’m going to say this again. There is nothing wrong with where you’re at. Please do not shame yourself for wherever you are.
It really does literally no good. None.
It does no good. And I know it can be really hard to not shame ourselves if we’re just in a more negative state all the the time, maybe you don’t know how to not shame yourself.
That’s a whole other tangent that I won’t go down, but please don’t shame yourself.
So out of these four main causes of low mood states, which ones are you experiencing?
Number one is job pressure and work issues.
So are you experiencing any issues in your job or your work?
Number two is finances. Am I experiencing financial stress.

[33:06] Number three, poor nutrition. Am I experiencing poor nutrition?
Am I eating the standard American diet most days of the week?
And out of the days of the week, am I eating the the standard American diet, most meals and snacks on those days?
Am I experiencing gut issues?
Am I having diarrhea or constipation?
Am I experiencing cravings? Am I on a diet? There’s a lot.
I won’t keep going because I could just go forever. But, When we’re looking at, am I experiencing poor nutrition, maybe take into consideration some of those things I just mentioned.
And the fourth main cause of low mood state, am I experiencing sleep deprivation or insomnia?

[34:07] So journal on or think about, ponder the four main causes of low mood states and see which ones resonate with you, which ones you are experiencing.
So that’s the job pressure, finances, poor nutrition, sleep deprivation.
How many of those things are you experiencing?
From there, there’s a lot of things you can do, right?
One of the ways you could go from there is if you have any interest in exploring this with me in particular, please reach out.
I am so happy to have a conversation with you book a complimentary support call and all we’ll do on there is literally like you just ask me questions and if I have any clarifying questions for you to find out if we’re a good fit then I’ll ask you those it’s super chill fun it’s just hey let’s get to know each other and yeah make sure we’re a great fit so you can sign up for that that complimentary support call.
Additionally, if you aren’t ready for private coaching, which is what the support call is for, is for private coaching.
If you aren’t quite ready for private coaching yet, please shoot me an email.
Get on my email list because I have some great things coming for those who aren’t ready for the private coaching.

[35:35] And I also have the unforked email list, which we go deeper onto these topics.
So you’ll kind of get a written version of today’s episode, not a transcript per se, but I don’t know. It kind of just depends on what I’m feeling.
If I elaborate, if I go on a tangent with one of the topics or things we talked about.
So just keep that in mind is that we can connect in several different ways.

[36:04] And yeah, either way, I would just love to know what this brought up for you.
What problems or challenges are you experiencing?
Where are you on that continuum? Are you fucking excellent? Or are you poor?
Are you good? Or are you fair?
I am always down to connect. So yeah, let me know. And I hope you have an absolutely incredible rest of your day.


Friend, thank you for listening to Unforked. If you enjoyed the episode, we’d love it if you’d send it to a friend and rate and review the show on either Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Then email us a screenshot of your review to howdy@thefulfilledfork.com for a one-time credit to use towards our wellness services. Chat soon.



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Links & Resources –

    Thank you to Chelsea @ladyfolk for cocreating the Unforked podcast/newsletter name and helping me bring The Fulfilled Fork voice to life
    thank you to YOU, the listener, for being here on this journey together.


    With a full heart (but always room for a slice of pizza),

    Haley Schroth, RDN, LD, CPT, RYT | Founder & Integrative Mental Health Coach


    P.S. Have a question you’d like Haley to answer in a future Unforked episode?
    Submit your (concise) question here.


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    Howdy! I’m Haley. A registered dietitian nutritionist, yoga teacher, personal trainer, and holistic mental wellness coach on a mission to help you transcend the struggle, stress, and suffering that life can bring. I’ve lived through it and discovered a path to feeling amazing in my mind, body, and soul. Now, I want to help you to live your most fulfilled life too through evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle practices!

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