Holistic Health

Holistic health may be seen as relatively new in terms of the word or phrase but the techniques and meaning behind it have been around for over 3000 words, ancient China and Greece practised therapies that follow holistic paths as well as the Indian concept of Ayurveda, “according to Ayurveda, one is considered as healthy when body, mind, and spirit are in the state of equilibrium, comfort, and bliss”. (www.sciencedirect.com).

Mind, Body, Spirit - Visit Belvoir

Overall the meaning of Holistic Health or Holistic Therapy is when the body is seen as a whole rather than the individual parts that it is made up of, it focuses on the wellness of a person as a whole rather than on a specific aliment, symptom, body part or diagnosis. It believes that you cannot understand the individual parts of a person alone but must see them as making up the person as a whole, they are all interconnected and in conjunction with the other parts of the body. Optimal health in holistic therapy is about balance, all sources suggest that the Mind, Body, Spirit, (or physical, mental, emotional) need to be observed and treated to treat the whole person. To do this it is suggested that certain areas are looked at including: physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual. The body is a working system and not a collection of organs, everyday medicine needs to be used in conjunction with looking at the above factors, and complimentary therapies or treatments. These can include: reiki, herbalism, massage, yoga, therapy/counselling, meditation, mindfulness, surgery, medication, nutrition, unconditional love, emotional support, sleep, self-care, environment, physical therapy and exercise.

It is suggested that the main areas to seek balance in and the ways to do so are:
Physical – improve sleep to a 7 or 8 hour period, improve diet to include balance meals, reduced fats and sugars increase nutrients to help brain and body chemistry, well balanced meal timings to maintain blood-sugar balance, minimum physical activity of 30 minutes as day, increase exercise, reduce smoking and drinking which put negative chemicals into the body. Maybe try massage.
Emotional – try therapy or counselling, mindfulness, meditation, journaling, talking, love yourself, and understand yourself better.
Mental – keep mind active, keep learning, solve puzzles, tired out your mind, and use your mind. Social/Spiritual – go outside and enjoy nature, plants inside can help too, make real contact with people, join social groups or activities such as religious groups, village communities, school communities, charities, hobbies. Set boundaries for social activity and who it is with to reduce stress and overtiredness, practise a faith if you have one.

Mental health is an integral part of the holistic health concept, you can see above the mind is one of the key areas that needs to be in balance with the body and spirit, therapy/counselling is also mentioned as a way to address this balance. Two examples of how holistic health can affect mental health are: depression and anxiety.

Depression leaves us feeling miserable, with low mood, it can also leave us with aching muscles, tiredness, slow movements, over sleeping and overeating. The questions on the PHQ-9 usually used to measure clinical depression include questions on: Trouble concentrating, Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed, Overeating, Feeling tired or having little energy, Sleeping too much.

Anxiety makes us move faster, fidget more, get physical pains like chest pain, breathlessness or tummy ache, eat less, sleep less. The GAD 7 used to clinical measure anxiety asked questions on: Being so restless that it is hard to sit still, Trouble relaxing, Becoming easily annoyed or irritable. (www.talk2gether.nhs.uk)

However, if we take these symptoms in conjunction with the key areas holistic health looks at we can see how improvement in some of the areas these symptoms manifest can improve overall health. If sleeping improves because of better physical activity making us tired and releasing good neurotransmitters into our minds and bodies our sleep patterns should improve. If we eat better diets with better nutrition then our bodies will have the right chemicals to exercise and have energy and to produce serotonin in our guts and brains (the gut brain hypothesis is currently the focus of research (www.health.harvard.edu)) to help us have more energy and feel less tired and want to exercise or move more, also improving physical aches and pains. If we meditate or practise mindfulness we will improve our stress and anxiety response and improve our mental wellbeing, thus improve our physical responses of tummy ache, chest pains, and headaches. If we attend therapy we may find reasons that make us anxious or depressed, healing these, and again by adjusting one key area we will improve the overall wellbeing of ourselves. It is believed that holistic health and thus mental health is improved if the client is given the power to address their own issues and own self, to look at their body and daily behaviours as a whole and to take control of them for themselves in a positive way. “Holistic Health is actually an approach to life.” (www.guidingwellness.com) is a very good way to describe this idea, it fits neatly within the concepts of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which look at the overall behaviours of the clients and make changes in all areas where it is needed to being about lasting and positive change.

Brain Body Mind Lab | Medical School - University of Minnesota

If you’d like some face to face counselling in the Stoke-on-Trent, Newcastle-under-Lyme or Staffordshire area please do contact Wright Minds at laura@wrightminds.co.uk or on 07598810304