Health can be measured in many ways and is often broken down into a variety of numbers and diagnoses that don’t often provide the best picture of what a truly healthy body and mind looks like.
While modern-day western medicine has brought many wonderful and life saving advancements, one of the downfalls of western medicine is the often siloed approach to health, which looks at the body in sections of individual symptoms and pieces rather that the whole system it really is.
This is why holistic health is so important, because to truly achieve optimal wellness in the physical, mental, and spiritual sense we have to be viewing and supporting the body as the incredible system it is.
WHAT IS HOLISTIC HEALTH?
Holistic health or holistic healing is often defined as a form of healing that looks at the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. This kind of holistic healing often involves multiple complimentary medicines and alternative healthcare practices that can overlap with modern-day western medicine, but will go beyond the singular treatment of symptoms to support more than just the body.
Some alternative healthcare practices that often are found within the realm of holistic health are:
- energy work (reiki)
- physical therapy
- general western medicine
- personal training
When all of these complimentary therapies come together for holistic healing, a person is much more likely to experience wellness on a deeper level that allows for a more joyful and truly healthy way of living.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HOLISTIC HEALTH
While people are living longer today they also are experiencing chronically high levels of stress and fatigue, are consuming nutrient depleted foods, and are exposed to hundreds of potentially harmful chemically through our air, water, cleaning, and personal care products daily. So to say that holistic health is important would be an understatement.
For many living with chronic disease and undiagnosable symptoms, the modern-day healthcare industry has failed them, and it is time that a more holistic, whole-body solution became a standard part of the way we treat and support the health of the billions of people living on this planet.
Holistic health also takes into account the many external and environmental factors which could be supporting or impacting our overall health and wellness, and with climate change impacting our surrounding environments more and more each day, it is important that we have a systematic way of addressing health in the future.
THE 5 ASPECTS OF HOLISTIC HEALTH: PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, SOCIAL, SPIRITUAL, AND MENTAL
When it comes to holistic health we are looking beyond the physical body and are addressing physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual health. All of these 5 aspects of holistic health are what enable a person to truly live each day in the healthiest, happiest way possible and if one area if compromised, most likely other areas will be as well.
Our physical health is what most people think about when they think of health. This is mostly because it is the physical body that often shows us physical signs and symptoms of either optimal or sub-optimal health. These physical signs and symptoms are also more easy to track and measure, versus other non-physical signs and symptoms that can feel more abstract.
When it comes to supporting your physical health there are few key practices that everyone can benefit from and can make a huge difference on your overall well-being:
- Sleep for 8 hours each night. This will allow your body to truly rest and repair from the day.
- Eat a nutrient dense diet that is high in plant-based foods and organic/pastured animal products.
- Maintain a balanced blood sugar by eating meals and snacks that contain fat, carbohydrates, and protein every 3-4 hours.
- Move your body for 30 minutes each day. While every person’s exercise routine will be different, everyone can benefit from at least 30 minutes of movement each day.
- Limit processed foods and hydrogenated oils which are highly inflammatory and can increase risk of chronic disease.
- Do not smoke, and avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
While often overlooked, our emotional health is just as important as our physical health — especially because our emotional health can affect our physical health if it is not prioritized.
Ways you can support your emotional health:
- Seek out therapy when needed. Therapy is an essential part of supporting our emotional health and should be utilized whenever necessary.
- Practice mindfulness and stress reduction habits that can help you better manage life’s daily stressors. For more mindfulness and stress reduction resources check out The Well Library
- Keep a journal to record you thoughts and feelings. Use your journal to record what you are grateful for as it can help bring positivity into times of stress.
Research has shown that the happiest people on earth have deep connections with their friends, family, and community. This is often why religion is connected with happiness as it can provide a deep sense of community and support, no matter what faith a person chooses.
Ways that you can support your social health:
- Make time for in-person connection. While technology has allowed for us to feel connected more, research has shown that virtual connection still does not provide us with the same level of happiness as in-person connection does.
- Get involved in your local community. Whether this is through your church, local volunteer organizations, clubs, or programs at your kids school — getting involved in your local community is one of the best ways you can support your social health and improve happiness.
- Set boundaries with people in your life that may increase stress or bring about toxic energy. Also do not be afraid to walk away from friendships and relationships that are negatively affecting your health.
Spiritual wellness does not necessarily mean that you need to become religious, although the two often have overlapping practices and principles. Instead your spiritual health should focus on how you are connecting with your inner soul, and the greater world around you.
Ways you can support your spiritual health:
- Spend time in nature
- Spend a few minutes each day meditating
- If you are religious, take the time to practice your faith
The last aspect of holistic health is our mental health, which often overlaps with both our emotional and physical health. The big distinction between our mental and emotional health though is that while our emotional health refers mostly to our daily mood and emotions, our mental health refers to our cognitive abilities that affect how our brain functions.
Ways that you can support your mental health:
- Always keep your mind active by seeking out learning opportunities and problem solving practices that challenge your brain.
- Consume nutrient dense foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids that will help reduce overall inflammation and support cognitive function.
- Avoid excessive drinking, smoking, and consuming recreational drugs.
- Improve gut health with gut healing foods like bone broth and prebiotic and probiotic rich foods. Since the brain is directly connected to the gut a healthy gut is essential for a healthy mind.