Holistic health is an approach to health that regards the individual as a whole, it includes the body, mind and spirit, and focuses on all the aspects of wellbeing – emotional, mental, physical and spiritual. It is a health system in which the patient is actively involved in the healing process, and in which all aspects are interrelated, and therefore interdependent. The focus is on treating the whole person, not just a particular disease or organ system.
There can often be many aspects involved in health and wellbeing so it can be daunting knowing where to start, this is when the support and guidance from professionals can help you on your journey. When it comes to treating illness, holistic health practitioners help you to figure out what is causing the distress and help you to address it from the root cause.
What are the holistic health therapies?
There are many different holistic health modalities that are often grouped into the following categories: alternative medicine, complementary medicine and holistic medicine. As mentioned, holistic medicine centres around treating the whole person. Alternative medicine is an umbrella term that refers to any treatment or therapy that isn’t considered part of conventional medicine. Complementary medicine is used in conjunction with conventional medicine, and it can be used to enhance the effects of conventional treatments. There can be overlaps of modalities defined within the three categories.
Some examples of holistic health therapies include acupuncture, chiropractic, naturopathy, homeopathy, massage therapy, herbalism, energy healing, ayurveda, reiki, and traditional chinese medicine (TCM), to name but a few. Often a number of these therapies are used in combination to improve health. Holistic health also takes into consideration lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise and how you deal with stress.
Holistic health is a way of life. It is not just a set of practices and therapies. It is also not just about treating the symptoms of disease; it is about curing the disease at its very root.
Why consider holistic health therapies?
It’s a more natural way of living that is less invasive to your body, your mind, and the planet. It’s a way of life that is more flexible and adaptable to your needs than most traditional medical treatments.
There are many reasons why people choose to look at different holistic health options. This way of healing the body and mind is preferred by many who are concerned about taking unnecessary drugs which may also cause unwanted side-effects. In fact, many people choose holistic therapies because they have had negative experiences with conventional medicine, while others find the holistic approach to be more effective.
How can you cultivate a more holistic health lifestyle?
You don’t need to start booking multiple appointments with professionals straight away. There are some simple things that you can begin incorporating into your life that will promote more wellbeing. It is from this position that it is easier to listen to the needs of your body and determine what additional support you may need. If you continue to suffer with lower back pain for example after introducing yoga into your daily routine, you may find chiropractic, acupuncture or massage therapy beneficial to add to your wellbeing routine.
However, consider the following points and ask yourself the questions posed in each of them to determine where you may be able to make simple changes to support your wellbeing. Below are 7 ways to incorporate holistic practices into your daily routine.
Nurturing your body with healthy food
You don’t need a degree in nutrition to know that vegetables are healthier than a donut for example. It’s about starting to make small shifts by introducing more whole foods and vegetables into your diet and reducing sugary and processed foods. If you have a sweet tooth and don’t believe you are able to cut out your sweet treats altogether, then try baking at home and swop out sugar with Stevia which is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute derived from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana, native to Brazil and Paraguay. It’s about 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar, but it has no carbohydrates, calories, or artificial ingredients. Just be careful of the brand you purchase, many companies have taken a natural product and chemically modified it just to make it look more like sugar!
Ask yourself, what can I begin changing with my diet? What can I reduce that I know is not nutritious for me? What can I add in which I know body will love? How can I start eating more vegetables? Consider adding more vegetables at every mealtime, or perhaps starting your day with a vegetable juice.
Resting and sleeping enough
In todays never ending fast pace of life, resting can seem like a luxury we just don’t have time for. This is a huge mistake and if you are in tune with your body, you will know exactly when you need some down time. Also ensure that you are getting enough sleep each night, 7-8 hours is average, and should be a minimum. It’s also important to ensure that the sleep you are getting is good quality deep sleep which is when the body repairs itself. If your sleep is light and you frequently wake up or you find it difficult to fall asleep to begin with, you are missing out on valuable healing.
Ask yourself, do I fall asleep quickly and easily? How do I feel when I wake up in the morning? Do I wake up during the night? What is on my mind last thing at night and if I wake up during the night? Shedding a light on what you’re thinking about when you can’t sleep, will help you to prioritise what you need to work on.
Nurturing your mind with stress-relieving activities
What do you do when you feel stressed? Do you practice any techniques to stop stress from showing up in the first place? Do you reach for stimulants to help with stress such as alcohol, a cigarette or a sugary snack? How does this make you feel? What techniques might be more natural and beneficial and don’t come with any side-effects? How much time will you dedicate to these techniques to ensure you feel balanced and calm? You might need to experiment with the last one to determine how much time you personally need.
Techniques can range from daily breathing practices, to yoga to going out for a run or walk, to meditation. It doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t need to take up a lot of time. The most important thing is that it helps you to clear your mind and feel relaxed and you practice it regularly.
Keeping your social network strong
We are social creatures by nature, extended periods of isolation can lead to loneliness and serious health conditions. Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions: high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
How much time do you spend alone? Who can you call and arrange a get together with? Who do you regularly interact with, or want to interact with? What groups or clubs can you join to be more social and meet new people with shared interests?
Exercising releases feel good hormones in the body and keeps you fit. It can also help you to get out and be more social if you choose to join a gym or a running club for example.
It has a host of physical benefits including helping to control your weight, helping with health conditions, it helps to improve your mood, it boosts energy, it promotes better and deeper sleep to name just a few.
Just make sure you pick something you enjoy doing, the last thing you want to do is dread exercising so much so that you don’t develop a long-term practice of it. Do you like to run, or dance or do yoga? How many times a week will you commit to your exercise schedule? How many minutes will you practice at each session? Track how you feel in a diary and compare how you feel after the first week and then after the 8th week to track your progress and keep you motivated. If you feel you may struggle with keeping it up, find an exercise buddy to help keep you accountable.
Drinking lots of water
The evidence is there, by drinking plenty of water you help maximise physical performance such as during exercise, youimprove your energy levels and brain function, it may help to treat or prevent headaches, it may help relieve constipation, it may help treat kidney stones and it can also help aid weight loss.
There is a lot of conflicting information on how much water is a healthy amount to drink each day. With most things, this is unique to each of us and it is worth checking the guidelines and then experimenting with different amounts to see how you feel. Do you feel better drinking 2.5 litres than you did when you just drank 2 litres a day? Make notes as you trial, find the amount that helps you function at your best and then ensure you consume the minimum amount each day.
Spending time in nature
Studies show that exposure to the natural world helps to increase healing and reduces stress. It is linked to cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being.
How much time do you spend outdoors? How and when can you spend more time outdoors? Can you perform your exercise routine outdoors? Can you join a walking club at the weekends when you have more time perhaps?
Holistic health is all about finding the right balance for your body, mind and spirit. It’s important to do more than simply treat your symptoms. So, if you want to take your health to the next level, try these strategies to cultivate more of a holistic health lifestyle. We hope you find them helpful! If you have any ideas to share, please post a comment below. We’d love to hear your feedback.
Are you ready for greater health and wellbeing? Search Holistic Room for qualified holistic health practitioners for your unique needs, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you promptly.