A holistic approach to life is one that takes into account all aspects of an individual, including mental, physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual wellness. Being holistic really is a way of life that requires commitment and forethought. It involves making positive choices and avoiding things that are bad for all aspects of one’s health.
Aspects of a holistic lifestyle include mindfulness, exercise, eating well, socializing, and spending time alone to recharge, as well avoiding things like drugs, too much alcohol, and too much time spent using electronic devices or working. Medical care is also an important part of living holistically. Holistic medical practitioners focus on overall wellness and prevention rather than simply treating symptoms.
What It Means to Be Holistic
Holism is the idea that everything is connected and that the parts of a whole are inextricably linked. It is a philosophy and term that can be applied to a variety of situations. In terms of healthcare and wellness it means that a person’s health and overall well-being depend on a balance between the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. A person cannot be healthy, well, and whole if any of these are ignored or neglected.
Furthermore, there is a connection between each individual and their environment as well as other people. A holistic lifestyle isn’t simply thinking about one’s own needs in isolation. A holistic approach to living must include interactions with the environment around a person as well as a focus on social life, relationships with others, and the needs of others.
Mindfulness is an important part of being holistic, and it addresses an individual’s mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Mindfulness is about being aware of one’s feelings, mood, physical sensations, and environment in the present moment and not dwelling on the past or future. Meditation is the classic example of mindfulness, but there are other ways to be more aware.
Yoga and tai chi can be great exercises for focusing on the body and breathing, while simply spending time alone to unwind and be with one’s thoughts can promote being mindful. Spending more time outdoors and without using devices or social media is also good for sensing and feeling in the present moment.
The Importance of Diet and Exercise
A holistic lifestyle must include physical wellness and has an emphasis on prevention. This is why being active regularly and eating well are important. Regular exercise promotes a healthy weight and aids weight loss; it lowers the risk of chronic illness; and exercise helps to boost mood and improve mental an emotional health.
Food is also important for similar reasons, but there are other important ways in which eating impacts wellness. Food choices impact the environment as well as individuals. Holistic eating means choosing whole foods, and organic, seasonal, and local foods when possible. It is also important to avoid junk food, overly processed foods, and too much added sugar, fat, or salt.
Social health is one aspect of wellness that is often overlooked. For some people being social is easy and comes naturally. For others it is something that has to be worked at. Having social support and a strong network of friends, family, or both is crucial to overall health and holistic wellness. Socializing can often be overlooked when people are busy, so it is important to make time to be with family and friends. Ways to get more social time include working out with friends, joining a support group, or making sure that dinner is always spent with family instead of alone.
Finding Work-Life Balance and Relaxation
Work is a crucial part of most people’s lives, but it can also take up a lot of time, cause stress, and interfere with healthy activities. Finding work that is enjoyable and meaningful is important, but so is finding time away from work and making sure it does not take over everything else in one’s life. When work and other stresses of life become an issue, it is important to find ways to relax and cope in healthy ways: exercise, meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, hobbies, or time with friends and family.
When applied to medicine, a holistic approach refers to treating the whole person. In standard medicine physicians and other medical professionals treat symptoms and disease, but holistic practitioners look at all aspects of a person’s mind, body, and spirit. There is an emphasis on prevention and living making healthy lifestyle choices to minimize disease risk.
When treating specific conditions or symptoms, holistic practitioners seek to find and treat the underlying causes and contributing factors. The belief is that illness is triggered by some kind of dysfunction, which could be physical but also may be mental or spiritual or social. Practitioners of holistic medicine take time with their patients to get to know them so that they can guide them to wellness and determine what areas of their lives are out of balance or dysfunctional. The patient-doctor relationship is very important.
Being Kind to Others and the Environment
Holistic living can seem selfish, but not when done correctly. Personal wellness also includes being aware of the needs of others and the environment. To live holistically it is important to be kind to others and to treat people with dignity and compassion. Holistic living means listening to others, spending time helping people, volunteering, and making new friends. It also means being aware of how decisions impact the environment and making choices that minimize impact.
If you have an interest in a holistic lifestyle, consider contacting a professional holistic practitioner. These people are more than just doctors. They are professionals who can guide you to make better choices and to learn how all areas of your life, all the choices you make, impact your overall wellness. They can help you figure out how to maximize balance between all you areas of wellness to promote greater health and to minimize the risk of illness and disease. Choosing a holistic lifestyle is a commitment but it has many benefits.