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Holistic Wellness: What Is It And Why Is It Important?

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, NCC, LPC

A person’s wellbeing is not only physical but is an integration between physical (body) and mental (mind) health.  There is a strong connection between mind and body. The connection between physical and mental health can be better understood with the help of an example. When you continuously stress over something like job or finances then it can yield stomach problems, muscle pain, and headaches. Similarly, if you have a chronic health problem then it can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Thus, having a positive mindset can have a positive influence on your overall health.

What is holistic health?

Holistic health is an approach to medicine that considers the wellbeing of a whole person including mind, body, and spirit.  According to this philosophy, optimal health can be achieved by maintaining a proper balance in life. In holistic medicine it is believed that the whole person is made up of interdependent parts and if one part is affected then the whole body will be affected. In other words, imbalance in life, whether emotional, spiritual, or physical can affect overall health. When a person with an illness goes to holistic practitioner, they will not simply prescribe medication but also inquire about the sleep habits, personal problems, and diet and nutrition. This approach also emphasizes the the innate healing powers of the individual. 

Importance of holistic health:

Advancements in medicine have brought a number of advantages in modern technologies, but a major disadvantage is that it often treats the human body in different parts rather than one whole system. On one hand, life expectancy has increased, but on the other hand people are experiencing high levels of stress. Exposure to various harmful chemicals through air, water, food and personal care products is also on the rise in modern age. Many people who suffer from chronic diseases have been disappointed by modern medicine, so it is high time that we consider a more holistic approach in the treatment of each individual. Holistic health not only focuses on the internal environment, but also focuses on the external environmental factors that may be affecting our health. With climate change, global warming, and ozone depletion, it is important that we also consider these factors while treating a physical problem.

Aspects of holistic health:

As we are looking beyond the physical body in holistic medicine, it is important that we address emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and social wellbeing. All 8 aspects of holistic health must be considered in order to live a healthier, more balanced life. If one aspect is out of balance, then others will also be compromised.

Physical:

When we hear the word physical activity the first thing that pops in our mind is exercise. No doubt exercise is important but physical health also includes personal hygiene, proper sleep and healthy diet. When considering physical health, it is important that you consider all the factors.

Emotional:

Emotional health includes the ability to express your feelings. It is important that you can identify, access and communicate your feelings in healthy way. Why is this important? Because life is full of ups and downs and if you can express your emotions in a healthy way then life becomes smooth.

Social:

Social wellness includes forming meaningful relationships. Social relations help you to move through life easily, humans are social animals and the importance of friends and family can not be emphasized enough. The importance of social interactions cannot be ignored. 

Nutrition:

In recent decades, nutrtion has been linked solely to physical health. However, in recent years, research has drawn a strong connection between the health of the microbiome and mental illness. A balanced diet not only nourishes your body but also your mind. It is recommended that you diversify your plate with fruits, vegetables, and proteins. Strengthening this pillar will help you strengthen other pillars of holistic health.

Spiritual:

The spiritual pillar is often different for everyone depending on how one defines it. It can play an important role in one person’s life while not having any importance in another’s life. Spirituality is a sense of direction, purpose, and meaning of life. It is not related to one person or religion. It is more about the individual’s journey. It is totally up to you how you can build your spiritual health and flex your spiritual muscle.

Intellectual:

Intellectual health can be strengthened by engaging the mind. In this way new skills and knowledge can be acquired that will help in your growth. Each person chooses their own way of keeping the mind sharp. Some people like to play mind games while others take part in debates etc.

Financial:

Financial wellness means living within your means and planning the future accordingly. You can start small but persistence pays big time. Some people may not consider this aspect important but wellness in this area affects other aspects strongly. After all financial problems are the main stressors in our society.

Environmental:

A person’s surroundings have an immense impact on their health and wellbeing. Environmental wellness is concerned with the products you use, the air you breathe, the people you engage with, among many others. If your family is unsupportive or even neglectful, this will gravely impact your sense of self and thus your mental health. Similarly, if you use harsh chemicals in your home, this can lead to chronic health conditions. Monitoring you environment is an important aspect of holistic health.

If you are looking for a therapist who takes a holistic approach to your health and wellbeing, pleased reach out to the intake specialists at Symmetry Counseling today! 

References: 

Freeman L (2009). Physiologic pathways of mind-body communication. In L Freeman, ed., Mosby’s Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Research-Based Approach, 3rd ed., pp. 1–29. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

Rasmussen HN, et al. (2009). Optimism and physical health: A meta-analytic review. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 37(3): 239–256.

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