The Secret To Optimal Health
People often think about health in terms of disease or the lack of it.
And while that is kind of true, health is a much broader concept involving all aspects of life.
When you think of optimal health, what comes to mind?
Is it an image of a “fit” person who gets their yearly flu shot and never gets sick?
Or is it someone who eats a well balanced diet, exercises, keeps a journal, loves their job and is always smiling and able to see the bright side of life?
Chances are if you are not familiar with holistic health you might have chosen the first.
Optimal health is when all areas of life are thriving.
It’s when we treat ourselves as the multidimensional beings that WE ARE.
We aren’t just slabs of skin, muscles, organs and bones that eventually wear off and become ill.
We are complex human beings and are affected by every thought, experience and relationship in our lives.
When you go for a doctor visit, does your doctor ever ask questions like:
“what’s your current emotional state like?”
“How’s your social life?”
“Are you spending adequate time in nature?”
Chances are you probably don’t ever get asked those questions. And if you do, more than likely your doctor views health holistically!
Often times people are getting prescribed medications for ailments that could have simply been a certain aspect in life lacking balance, if looked at holistically.
However, most western medicine doctors are too focused on treating symptoms and not looking at the bigger picture.
Eastern medicine has been taking this approach for thousands of years.
“for the part can never be well, unless the whole is well”Socrates
What is Holistic Health?
Holistic Health is an ancient approach to health that focuses on the whole body rather than treating symptoms.
It’s more of a lifestyle that one would follow that considers the health of the mind, body and soul rather than just the physical ailments.
Holistic health focuses on the overall wellness of 8 aspects of life.
What are the 8 dimensions of holistic health?
Physical wellness focuses on a person’s physical body. Not just exercise and other physical activity but also, diet/nutrition, quality of sleep and even hygiene.
Movement: Daily physical activity is known to benefit heart health, but recent studies have shown the connection between movement and mental health.
Nutrition: Eating fresh whole foods are what the body thrives on. Eliminating inflammatory foods help your body maintain homeostasis .Are you eating a plant-based diet with good quality, grass fed meats? Are you taking necessary supplements making sure you are getting all of the essential vitamins and nutrients to fuel your body?
Sleep: Many people are not aware that low quality sleep is a contributing factor to disease. A 2017 study shows that long term sleep disruption is linked to over 5 major illnesses’.
Needless to say, getting a good night’s sleep isn’t just crucial for beauty.
Hygiene: There are many diseases that can be spread through improper hygiene. One’s physical wellness is determined by how well we take care of our bodies and what better way to take care than keeping it clean.
Emotional wellness addresses how we handle and express emotions. Not only ours but the emotions of others.
It’s where self-care fits in the holistic realm.
Are you taking a mental health day from time to time?
Emotional wellness also considers your everyday mood.
How are you managing stress? Are you allowing yourself to express yourself freely and openly?
Social wellness involves your tribe. It’s about forming healthy bonds with the people in your life and community.
It also focuses on how we communicate to those around us.
Are the relationships in our lives supported by connection and open communication?
Many studies have shown that people actually live longer when they are a part of a community.
These known communities are called Blue Zones, which are regions around the world that follow 9 shared characteristics that are all very similar to those in holistic health.
This 2016 study on blue zones further explain the benefits which include healthier people and longer life span.
Spiritual wellness is the connection you have with something greater than yourself.
It includes your values, ethics, finding purpose in existence and being in tuned with the connection between mind and soul.
Spiritual wellness is different for everyone. It’s not focused on one religion or the idea of a god.
Its any and all beliefs that support a deeper purpose to the human experience.
How much are the day to day decisions you make influenced by a sense of values that positively support the people around you?
How does having a spiritual outlook help you cope with challenges in life?
Environmental wellness looks at the relationships between you and the space around you.
Your home, job, community and most importantly the planet you live on.
It involves living in a place where you feel supported but keeping in mind the energy you bring to that space as well.
Are you keeping your home, desk and room tidy?
Are you doing your part to help the environment of the planet by recycling, using reusable cups, straws, bags and avoiding plastics?
All of these small actions can have a huge impact on our environment.
Studies have shown high levels of cortisol in people who live in clutter.
Imagine the effects on a global scale!
Intellectual wellness encourages stimulating the mind.
By engaging the brain in problem solving and creative activities it inspires challenge which leads to growth.
When we are intellectually stimulated it sparks curiosity that motivates you to try new things.
It fosters an open mind leading to deeper understanding of ourselves and the relationships in our lives.
Financial wellness focuses on our views on money and our overall financial health.
Not just how we spend our money but the beliefs we have about money.
How do those beliefs benefit or limit us?
Are we spending intentionally or to fill emotional stressors?
A 2018 study shows that money is the #1 stressor in america.
That means that a majority of the country can agree that their financial wellness is not optimal.
And considering the dangers of long term stress.
Imagine how many people become ill over poor financial beliefs and habits.
Financial wellness requires financial awareness.
Are you spending based on a budget?
Living paycheck to paycheck?
Or maybe you see money as evil and have a negative relationship with it?
Money is just a form of energetic exchange, like most things. Becoming more aware with that reality allows us to have a healthy approach to how we manage it.
Occupational wellness looks at a few things regarding your career or place of work.
It focuses on the balance between work and play.
Making sure you are not burning out and staying passionate or at least enjoying what you do.
How YOU can live a holistic life.
I know it can seem overwhelming to start living a more holistic lifestyle.
We’re conditioned to leave our health in the hands of professionals and assume we need a medical degree to listen to our own body.
And I am in no way bashing medical professionals, they serve a purpose and save many lives.
However, only you have lived your life and only you can choose what decisions serve you best.
There is no magic pill that can save your life.
You just need to decide if this approach resonates with you and then begin taking action.
Here are a few ways you can start a holistic lifestyle:
- Keep a Journal
- Be More Present/Less Screen Time
- Eliminate Inflammatory foods/ Add Nutrient Dense Foods
- Spend Money Consciously/ Start a Budget
- Nurture Positive Relationships/Lessen Negative Ones
- Spend Time In Nature/ Go On Walks
- Focus on The Positive/ Be Grateful
Taking a holistic approach and addressing the areas in our lives that aren’t thriving, would in turn make positive changes that lead to a happier healthy life.
If we approached life holistically we would see an increase of HEALTHY people.
We would have doctors giving more accurate diagnosis versus faulty prognosis based on textbook pathologies.
Instead of prescribing medication, doctors would prescribe meditation, healthy eating or even changing jobs.
By looking at the different aspects of our life and making positive changes, living a holistic lifestyle allows us to be in control and achieve optimal health.
I’m sure you’ve heard the words “self-care” hundreds of times over the last few years. People have begun to value their mental health more than ever.
And words like wellness, holistic, and natural have been buzz words in the health community as everyone is on a journey to self healing.
The Holistic health approach gives us the opportunity to take our health into our own hands and allows us to see our bodies as an interconnected system that work synergistically.
Which step will you take first to start living a holistic lifestyle?