so what is holistic health anyway?
Okay so if you’ve kept up with any recent health trends, you’ve heard the buzz word “holistic”. Holistic approach, holistic medicine, holistic nutrition… ringing any bells? Well if you’re like most of America and I, you probably think it’s just some woo woo, yogi-type related term for health- but what does it really mean?
The word “holistic”, no surprise here, comes from the word “whole”, meaning complete. The over-arching theme is health viewed from a whole or holistic perspective. To understand that mind, body and spirit work together to produce a true version of health. Holistic health is an approach to life, not a quick fix. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Body-Mind Disciplines defines it as the ancient approach to health that considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment, rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body. The goal is to achieve maximum well-being. A place where the individual can recognize personal needs and address them appropriately. It takes the whole person into perspective.
So to put it simply, living holistically really just means treating your body in the best way you can. Loving your body for what it does and giving it what it needs to thrive! For example, we all know fruits and vegetables are good for us and it’s true- they contain tons of vitamins and minerals, so we should include these in our diet. However, let’s say you are at a birthday party with your family and there is birthday cake and ice cream. Although cake and ice cream may not have any physical health benefits and isn’t packed with nutrients- it has emotional and mental health benefits. It sounds crazy at first, but it really isn’t. Eating that cake in a way shows your participation in the celebration of life of that loved one and may help you better enjoy that time with others. These are the moments that “feed your soul”. In the same way that it’s important as it is to eat in a way that’s nourishing to your physical self, it’s equally important to feed and nourish your emotional, spiritual, and physical self.
Another example is stress. We all have and will experience stress. Most of us can agree that living a stressful and anxious life can affect every party of you. Your sleep (a HUGE component of health!!), your diet choices, relationships, mood, emotions- everything! We can’t always avoid life’s stressors, but learning how and when to cope with it can help alleviate many of the negative side effects stress can come with. For instance, enjoyable exercise (walk or bike-ride), a bubble bath, lighting a candle, journaling, calling your mom, reading your bible, deep-breathing- all are great ways to relieve stress!
Whatever your stressor may be, a part of leading a holistically healthy life is realizing when your body is stressed out and giving yourself what you need in order to chill out. That is what’s healthiest for you in that moment!
I say all that to simply show you that your health is not separated into categories or isolated to one area. There are many aspects to it. Physical health is just a part, yet sadly is the only part people seem to care about. I’ve heard countless stories of very physically healthy, successful people struggling from isolation and depression. They fear that going out to eat will ruin their diet or skipping the gym to hang out with friends would destroy all their progress…. ummm helllloooo that’s not healthy at all. It’s all about balance people. Kale AND cookies. Weight lifting AND yoga. Putting effort into your career AND your hobbies. Love yourself for who you are right now and treat yourself as such.
A balanced you is the healthiest you- no matter the weight, diet, or workout routine.
Remember: there’s no black and white rules to health. It’s YOUR health. Which means your walk is unique and all your own. So it can’t be the same for everyone. No one size fits all. It has to be grey. Which is pretty beautiful I think.