My wholelistic wellness program is developed around the balance of all elements of our body (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and social) through holistic means—but how does one truly accomplish this is a modern world consumed with quick fixes and instant gratification?
When it comes to whole body health, a quick fix may get someone through the day, but ultimate wholelistic health is not achieved. A yoga class may assist in a boost in mental health and increase physical flexibility; a fad diet may assist in weight loss goals; an occasional indulgence in “me time” may temporarily boost your moral—but overall and lasting wellbeing is not achieved, merely a small glimpse into what could be is experienced.
Reaching Wholelistic wellbeing requires the understanding that all parts of our health (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and social) all work in tandem to provide us with whole body wellness. Caring for one part of ourselves may provide some benefit, but without caring for all areas adequately, we are only providing ourselves with a quick fix.
Today, it is much easier to openly discuss concerns pertaining to our mental health and to get the care, treatment, and prevention our minds need. Seeking specialized professional for the mind is as important as seeing a physician for physical ailments—but it is also important to self-manage health between visits to maintain the health of the mind-body connection.
How we feel mentally can greatly affect our physical selves as can our physical appearance affect our mental state of being. While a medical doctor can help you to treat the symptoms of indigestion and a therapist can teach you the tools to reign in feelings of anxiety, only you can maintain the balance between mind and body.
When your mind is tuned into thoughts and feelings of worry or fear, your body responds with physical reactions to the stress you are feeling. Your nervous system responds with increased levels of adrenaline and cortisol, increased heart rate, and higher blood pressure, and the endocrine system releases appropriate chemical responses which in turn stimulate your emotional responses.
Essentially, the thoughts you have can greatly affect the rest of your health. By mindfully choosing your thoughts and implementing thought or breathing techniques to reduce stress or manage certain emotions, you can in turn promote physical and emotional wellbeing.
Emotions are created by chemical signals from our Endocrine System. Mentally, we recognize these chemical signals, assign a meaning to it, and then react to the chemical signal with a physical reaction (scream, cry, wring hands, bite nails, etc.). Again, the systems of our body are greatly interconnected with one another and health (or sickness) in one can carry across to the others.
By learning to regulate your emotions and the response you have to them, you can change how the chemical release affects your mind and body. Emotion regulation is often taught to us as children—but for many, these techniques are relearned to elicit a healthier reaction and response. Relaxing breaths to hold off anxiety, counting to 5 before responding in anger—these are examples of holistic ways to regulate your emotional health.
Physical health is the most recognizable form of health—we can see when our bodies are not healthy just as we can feel when we are hurting. We typically know when something is wrong with our physical health. Seeking a medical professional is common and encouraged to determine a diagnosis. Treatment with medication may even be necessary—but may not always be the ideal approach for wellbeing. Many medications are a tradeoff—side effects in exchange for minimizing or eliminating symptoms—and not all treat the problem, but rather go after the symptoms.
An individual who suffers from IBS, acid reflux, or other form of digestion may be advised to avoid certain foods and take medication to alleviate their symptoms. While these can help, addressing other areas of your health may also be necessary. High-stress lives can cause similar issues (cortisol affects the body’s digestion), as can the extended emotional response to stress and anxiety. By regulating thought and emotion—even seeking guidance spiritually—can help to alleviate the physical ailment as much as a prescribed antacid.
Wholelistic health may be different for everyone, but often includes the aspect of spiritual health. For some, this is their relationship with a deity. In holistic terms, this is merely the relationship between a person’s inner and outer world—our connection to the world around us. Without the spiritual consideration, we are just robots made flesh and bone.
Further, the spiritual aspect of wholelistic wellbeing ties into our natural drive for survival—the sense we perceive that keeps us from harm (like knowing the consequence of standing too close to a cliff’s edge or learning quickly from mistakes such as touching a hot stove).
Spirituality can be this intelligence, this other sense, a connection to the world, feeling there is a greater something beyond us, a God—whatever it may mean for you; but without it, we wouldn’t have the sense to care for ourselves as a whole and recognize when something about ourselves is out of alignment.
People are innately social beings; we want to be around people, to be acknowledged by other people, to speak to other beings aside from ourselves. Even those who are not very social or feel anxious in social settings desire a sense of connection—even if it is directed at a pet rather than a peer or through a distanced connection (online, texting, letters).
The feeling of belonging or being connected within a social group (family, friends, religion, coworkers, etc.) promoted social wellbeing. Strong social connections can help support emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical states of wellbeing.