You asked, we delivered! During our recent 100k Community Twitter Chat, we asked the FitFluential audience what topics they would like to see discussed on FitFluential.com. One topic that repeatedly came up was holistic health. I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to write this posts, as I, too am interested in learning more about a holistic way of life.
When you hear the terms “holistic health” or “holistic medicine” a few things may come to mind:
- A strong focus on avoiding illness
- Treating ailments without western medicine
- Allowing the body to heal itself
- Using natural remedies for healing
But which of these things are true and which are hearsay? While all 4 of the above-mentioned themes are part of the holistic health movement, there is so much more detail involved. If you’ve been interested in learning more about holistic health, we’re hoping this article pushes you to do your own research. But for now, here are 5 basic principles of holistic health to get you started!
First, what is holistic health?
1. Maintaining good health is more than just taking care of our physical bodies.
Do you ever visit the doctor only to leave with a prescription but little information on what you can actually do? For example, if you suffer from frequent headaches, a solution might be to take over-the-counter pain medication. But what about getting more sleep? Or assessing a typical day and looking for stress triggers? And if you find any, what can you change to experience less stress? Holistic health goes beyond treating the physical pain and makes it about the person as a whole. When our body feels good, our mind feels good. And when our body and mind feel good, our soul is happy. Holistic health is based around the notion that our entire being works together to maintain overall health.
2. Holistic health includes the spiritual element of an individual.
A big part of holistic health is understanding that all parts of the human body work together to maintain overall wellness. As mentioned above, this includes a spiritual component. Holistic health practices recognize that for some individuals, dealing with illness or pain can relate to spiritual concerns that may result in physical or emotional symptoms. Instead of only curing the physical ailment we are experiencing, holistic health takes it a step further and addresses the emotional side of the equation. For example, surrounding an individual and their family with mental comfort and support.
3. Alternative medicine is used – but not always exclusively.
You might be thinking “what is alternative medicine?” Put simply, alternative medicine is any type of treatment that is considered to be unorthodox by the medial profession. Examples of alternative medicine include acupuncture, herbalism and homeopathy. It’s a common belief that holistic treatments only include the use of alternative medicine. However, many holistic healthcare professionals actually use western medicine as well. The main difference is that a holistic doctor will treat the cause of the condition – not just the physical symptoms. Let’s take the chronic headache example: a holistic treatment plan would involve lifestyle modifications in addition to prescription medications that could help.
4. Holistic health addresses how a we interact with our environment.
A holistic belief is that every individual has control over their own well-being. Additionally, we all have an innate ability to heal ourselves. In a nutshell, it is our everyday choices that dictate our level of health. For example, if you have anxiety about an upcoming interview, this could manifest into physical reactions like headaches or nausea. Another (much simpler example) is food and exercise choices. When we choose to eat right and stay active, this improves our overall health. When we choose to do the opposite, we endure opposite effects.
5. Holistic health includes the mind, body & spirit.
As mentioned, a holistic way of life is more than taking care of your physical body. It is paying attention to the well being of your entire self. We think the American Holistic Health Association sums it up pretty well: An individual is a whole made up of interdependent parts, which are the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. This means that when one part of us is not working at its best (for example, a broken ankle) the rest of us is impacted by it (for example, a broken ankle has you feeling down in the dumps).
When we think about being “healthy” this normally means “not sick.” But holistic health isn’t about one sole health component like diet or exercise, but rather an approach to life. When it comes to holistic health, we’re considering more than just the body, but the mind and spirit as well.