INSIDE: There’s a big difference between being healthy and being holistically healthy, and it’s one that modern medicine tends to overlook. In this article, you’ll discover 10 ways to be more holistically healthy so you can enjoy optimal health and well-being.
There’s something missing from modern medicine.
It’s not a thing, but an approach…
A way of thinking about health and wellness.
It’s the way the Eastern world has always approached health, and it’s something we are now starting to understand more and more here in America.
It’s called “holistic health,” and it’s the route to optimal health and proactive wellness.
Why is it Important to Be More Holistically Healthy?
There’s something about clinical/medical stuff that turns me off.
Don’t get me wrong, health is one of my top priorities, but the way I go about health is not so clinical.
I haven’t banned it completely from my life because there is certainly a time and a place for more modern forms of healthcare (i.e. surgery, certain medications when all else fails, etc).
But, the majority of the way I go about health is much more holistic, natural, and proactive. That means that when I have a health issue, I turn to nutrition and supplements before I turn to medication, and I turn to bodywork, exercise and stress management before I turn to surgery, for example.
In a nutshell, my main health goal is to be more holistically healthy, not just healthy.
There’s a big difference, and as I mentioned above, it’s one that modern medicine tends to overlook.
Chronic health conditions are like an epidemic these days. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, obesity, cancer, and arthritis are running rampant in America, and according to the CDC, they are all preventable.
Too many people are enduring a decreased quality of life and happiness and even premature death as a result of these and other chronic conditions.
Fortunately, more and more people are now adopting a healthier way of life in an effort to prevent disease and enjoy a life of wellness.
What is a Holistic Approach to Health?
When we think of health holistically, we take the whole being into account to enjoy optimal health. That includes the mind, body, and spirit. Or you could refer to it as taking your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health into consideration when working to be healthy.
All parts of our beings are interdependent of each other, and when one part is out of balance, it causes the whole system to be imbalanced.
If we wait to get sick and treat the condition, we only target the symptoms of a certain health issue. Instead, holistic health focuses on the whole person at once and looks at the root cause.
For example, back pain could be the result of stress, which means doing surgery on the back would be more like a band-aid than a cure. Alternatively, a headache could be caused by a pinched nerve in a place you wouldn’t necessarily relate to the head. In that case, treating the headache would only mean it would return until the real cause is dealt with.
In holistic health, natural methods are often used whether solely or in combination with conventional methods. Preventative measures are taken to ensure that lifestyle choices and habits are in sync with the goal of overall wellness.
10 Ways to Be More Holistically Healthy
Practice Holistic Eating
Above all else, our diet plays the biggest role in our health or lack thereof.
I often say, if I am what I eat (and obviously we are), I’d rather be a whole food than a junk food!
In case you need convincing that you are what you eat, think about what the body does with food once we consume it. Our digestive systems break it down and extract the nutrients from the food, and then disperse it throughout the body to be used by each system. If we’re putting junk food in, our bodies only have junk to work from, but if we provide our bodies with healthy, nutrient-rich foods, all that goodness essentially becomes us.
Here are some of the most important points about nutrition and our health:
- Nutrients from whole foods protect and heal the body and mind.
- Proper nutrition allows the body to function optimally.
- A healthy diet gives you an abundance of energy.
- Healthy food supplies us with antioxidants that protect us from chronic disease.
- Real food strengthens the body and improves our stress response and immune function.
- Essential fatty acids, which come from fish, nuts, and seeds promote healthy brain function.
- When we eat the right foods, we enjoy better focus, concentration, and memory power.
It’s too involved to go into detail here, but I wrote a big juicy article about Holistic Eating here. Check it out – it provides a ton of useful info and tips from a very realistic point of view.
Research has shown over and over again that regular exercise decreases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many cancers.
Exercise also helps our mental health by increasing the brain’s endogenous endorphins, helping us feel better and have a lower perception of pain.
There are two types of exercise, and it’s important to engage in both types:
- Aerobic – walking, running, swimming, cycling, etc. These exercises are important because they strengthen the heart and lungs, burn calories, and keep many chronic diseases at bay. Strive to do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise each day (or 4-5 days at a minimum). Check out my article about how Daily Walks have transformed my life here.
- Anaerobic – lifting weights, strength training, yoga, pilates, etc. This type of exercise helps strengthen the body and builds muscle mass. It’s especially important as we age because it keeps us strong and helps reduce muscle atrophy, which is a common issue for seniors. Do these types of exercises at least 2-3 times per week.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity and being overweight is one of the biggest causes of chronic disease. Fortunately, healthy eating and consistent exercise are the main ways to maintain a healthy weight.
Strive to get to your ideal weight, not through fad diets that make you cut out entire food groups and starve yourself, but through a whole food holistic diet and consistent exercise. Then, focus on maintaining that weight by staying as close to that weight as possible.
Don’t worry so much about calories in/calories out, which is the focus of so many weight loss programs. Not every calorie is considered equal. For example, nuts, seeds, coconut, and avocados are high in calories but they are incredibly good for you, and they fill you up so you’ll actually eat less. When people focus too much on calories, they end up eating foods that are void of not only calories but also nutrition, and that leads to being malnourished, not to mention feeling hungry all the time (which only leads to quitting your diet).
One simple trick is to drink a glass of water before each meal or snack. Not only does this increase your water intake (which is very good for you), but it will also help you feel fuller so that you’ll eat less or even realize you don’t really need that snack you thought you needed. Don’t replace this with sugary juices or soda, though, because that will defeat the purpose by increasing your calorie intake.
Workout Your Mind
We often talk about exercising our bodies, but we don’t often talk about working out our minds. Keeping our minds sharp helps ward off Alzheimer’s disease, improves focus, memory, and cognitive flexibility, and even helps us control our emotions.
Some things you can do to exercise your mind is:
- Taking courses
- Crossword puzzles, word searches, and other puzzles and brain teasers
- Having stimulating conversations
- Listening to music
- Playing board games
- Personal development
- Doing things that inspire you
- Doing something creative
- Getting out your markers or colored pencils and coloring
Foster Your Spirituality
We can’t leave the spirit out of “mind, body, spirit” and expect to enjoy a holistic approach to health.
It doesn’t matter what form of spirituality or religion you believe in; what matters is that you make time for the practices of your spirituality or religion.
For me, that would include meditation, asking the universe for assistance, and expressing gratitude. For you, it might mean going to church, praying, or fasting.
Find ways to weave more spirituality into your daily life, and you’ll likely enjoy more peace and less stress.
If you smoke, quitting should be one of your top priorities. It’s the leading risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, and it causes many conditions such as lung cancer, COPD, and stroke.
If you are a smoker who also has either high blood pressure or high cholesterol, smoking adds even more to your already high risk of heart disease.
While it can feel difficult to give up, you can redeem a good bit of your health by doing so, and the benefits far outweigh any pleasure it gives you.
Manage Your Stress
A large percentage of health issues can be traced back to stress. And when we experience stress over a long period of time, it can lead to many chronic conditions, such as gastrointestinal issues, heart disease, obesity, headaches, and depression, to name a few.
There are many ways to manage stress, such as:
- Yoga & Meditation – Creates a unique connection between physical and mental well-being.
- Taking a Walk in Nature – Calms the mind, releasing it from hectic lifestyles and the over-stimulating technology of the modern world.
- Relaxation & Deep Breathing Exercises – Supports well-being and reduces stress.
- Engaging in Simple Pleasures – Things that bring us simple pleasure can do wonders for your well-being. Check out my recent article, 53 Simple Pleasures for Lasting Happiness for some fun ideas!
Engage in Self-Care
Today, self-care is considered unimportant. It’s an after-thought and is often completely neglected.
But no matter how busy our schedule is, how many emails we have to tend to, and how much social media we want to browse, self-care should be one of our top priorities.
It’s important to do a self-check every day. Ask yourself questions like:
- Am I so exhausted that I need a nap?
- Does my body ache from work and I need a massage?
- Were my last few meals void of nutrition? Should I be eating a nutritious meal?
- Would a bath feel like heaven right now?
- Has my body been craving yoga?
- Has my mind and spirit been craving meditation?
We can’t be holistically healthy without listening to our bodies, identifying what we need, and striving to fulfill those needs on a regular basis. Neglect will lead to illness and disease at some point.
Studies show that people who are more isolated have worse health than those who spend time with loved ones or friends. And that’s true whether you are an extrovert or an introvert – it’s just that introverts will need less social activity than extroverts to be healthy.
Your social network is just as important as any other healthy habit you can engage in (no, Facebook and social media don’t count as social engagement!).
When we are social, it stimulates the brain and promotes emotional well-being. It makes us feel good, and when we feel good, our physical health thrives.
If you don’t already have an abundant social life, try some of the following social activities:
- Make sure dinner is family time
- Go out on monthly dates with your spouse
- Exercise with a friend
- Attend meetups or courses on topics you enjoy
- Find out what your local cities have going on for fun
- Do less shopping online and more in store
- Say “yes” to party invites
- Join a networking group
- Plan day trips with your family
- Plan a girls or guys night out
- Plan play dates for your kids while you hang out with the parent(s)
Strive for Positive Relationships
To have true holistic health, our relationships need to fulfill us, uplift us, and support us. It’s important to work on all types of relationships in your life: family, romance, work.
Healthy relationships don’t typically just happen naturally, at least not over the long haul. It takes an investment of time and energy, and extra consideration of the feelings of the other person in each of your relationships.
If you have any current relationships that are struggling, the best place to start is to look at the following:
- How are you contributing in a negative way to the relationship?
- What is the other person’s point of view? Without making him/her right or wrong, just strive to understand their perspective.
- Are you focusing on what you don’t like about the person more than what you like about him/her? What we focus on expands, so if you want to have love in your relationships, focus on what you love about the person.
These three questions are not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but this is the type of thinking that leads to fulfilling relationships.
Have a Prosperity Mindset
Our relationship with money is just as important as the other aspects of our lives since money is such a big part of our lives. The way you view money and the fears/peace you have about money can have a devastating or an invigorating impact on your life and your health.
There are two main mindsets about money:
Prosperity Mindset – You believe that there is an abundance of money available to everyone; you think positively about the money that is currently in your life; you believe prosperity is in your future.
Lack Mindset – You constantly find yourself saying things like, “I can’t afford that,” “I’ll never have the money I need,” or “I hate money because I never have enough.”
No matter where you are in your life with money, developing a healthy mindset about money is essential to your financial future and your overall health.
Belinda Rosenblum has a great course. If you sign up for her free money tracking sheets, she also sends you a bonus guide that teaches you how to rewrite your money story. Awesome stuff!
Find Balance in Your Life
The word “Holistic” essentially means “balanced” because there must be a balance between all aspects of the self for holistic health to exist.
That means we must learn to bring our personal and work life into balance (and any other aspects of your life that take up a considerable amount of time).
But this is something many of us struggle with. Either we work too much and don’t have enough time for family and ourselves, or we feel so stressed trying to “do it all” that we are completely unbalanced.
The first step is to decide that balance is important for you and then make all new decisions by considering whether or not the outcomes will lead to more balance or less. Here are some examples:
- If a friend asks you a favor, will it make you more stressed or less? (That’s not to say that you should never do favors if you want to lead a balanced life – just that you need to consider the importance and impact of each favor asked of you.)
- Will bringing that work project home take away from your time with your family or can you feasibly squeeze it in?
- Will checking your email and your Facebook updates while playing with your son or daughter take away from your experience?
Tips For Living Holistically Healthy
1) Don’t try to make all these changes at once. Doing that would likely cause you to feel these changes are too hard, which will lead to quitting. Don’t let overwhelm get the best of you. It’s not hard when you take it step by step. Take one habit at a time, begin gradually, and work on that till you master it. For example, you could start with one healthy meal per day, then increase it to two, then three, then snacks and desserts.
2) I don’t think any one of us (except for those rare people who seem to engage in extreme healthy behavior easily) can be successful at leading a holistically healthy life all the time. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just do the best you can! I certainly don’t accomplish all of these things all the time, but I strive to do the best I can, therefore I succeed much more than I would if I never tried.
- How to set your day up for peace, joy and success
- How to overcome any negative emotion, experience or person
- How to tune into your inner spirit
- How powerful your words are
- How to spark your passions and live with excitement
Remember, anything that affects one part of the body also affects the whole body. Nothing can be isolated.
Being holistically healthy means making healthy lifestyle choices that support your health and wellness. We all make tons of decisions each and every day. Are you making decisions that support your holistic health or defeat it?
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