Have you ever heard of Holistic Wellness?
I hadn’t heard of Holistic Wellness until I worked in the Family Medicine department at the University of Oklahoma. One course medical students can take is called Food as Medicine and it discusses how our body systems are interconnected, and the food we eat affects every system in our body. When we approach food from a systems perspective, we are applying a Holistic Wellness approach to health.
A Holistic Approach to Wellness
As I focus on healing (My 2021 Word of the Year), I’m taking a holistic approach to wellness. Holistic wellness is an approach to being healthy that considers the body, mind and spirit. Attention to all three is needed to stay balanced. Holistic medicine believes that each of these things work together. So, for example, if someone has physical pain, their mind and spirit will suffer. If there is a spiritual void, they may get sick. If their emotions are unbalanced, it can manifest in the physical body. Holistic wellness addresses the entire being, not just one system, and looks for the connections that can restore health and balance to the entire person.
Holistic Wellness also searches for the root causes of illness rather than treating the symptoms of illness. In this sense, it is a naturopathic (nature = nature or natural, pathic = treatment) focus rather than a traditional Western allopathic focus. For example, if my joints are inflamed and hurting, I will seek to find the root cause of the joint pain (arthritis) and heal the arthritis, rather than take a medication to simply reduce the inflammation and pain.
Holistic Wellness also tends to incorporate more natural methods of healing such as herbs, supplements and vitamins, although it can also use traditional Western medicine when necessary to restore health.
4 Pillars of Holistic Wellness
There are many perspectives on holistic wellness and what it encompasses, some more detailed than others. For me, there are 4 main pillars of holistic wellness that I’ll focus on this year.
1. The Physical Pillar
The Physical Pillar focuses on the physical body and the things that can physically impact your body. For me, this will include exercise, nutrition, eating habits, sleeping habits, being in nature, having decluttered living spaces, and a deeper dive into herbalism, essential oils and supplements for health support and disease prevention.
2. The Mental Pillar
The Mental Pillar is your mindset. I tend to be slightly melancholy in my daily perspective, and I need to retrain my mind to focus on the positive aspects of life, rather than the negative aspects. This is a common trait in people who struggle with depression, and by retraining my thought life to focus on the good rather than the bad, I will improve my mental and emotional health. Other parts of the Mental Pillar include stress, social engagement, environmental factors, occupational factors, finances and belief in yourself.
3. The Emotional Pillar
The Emotional Pillar includes your feelings, hormones, connection with your community, connection with your family, anxiety/depression, being overwhelmed, and feelings of satisfaction, peace and joy. By working on my emotional intelligence, I will learn to be aware of my feelings, I will engage how I feel, and I will learn to actually talk about how I’m feeling instead of bottling everything up inside until I explode! Living a Year in a Pandemic has been incredibly hard and taken a significant toll on my emotional state.
4. The Spiritual Pillar
The Spiritual Pillar is the health of your spirit life. I’m a Christian so my spirit life includes prayer, worship, meditation, and listening to God. Although I talk to God every day, I don’t always engage in worship or meditation, and a lot of the time I’m so busy talking that I don’t take time to listen. I read a beautiful book in college called “Could You Not Tarry One Hour” that breaks up one hour into 12 ways of communing with God, and it’s a wonderful and easy read that I know will help me heal my spirit and my closeness with God.
As I focus on Healing – My 2021 Word of the Year – I am hopeful that a holistic approach to wellness will help me learn balance and consistency in the various areas of my life. By considering the body, mind and spirit and how they work together, I think 2021 can be a great year of holistic wellness!
What do you think of this approach to health? Have you heard of it before? I’d love to hear your thoughts and any recommendations you may have as I start this journey of healing.