What is holistic health and how can it improve mental health?

When we think about what is meant by holistic health I believe that many people get utterly confused by the term and do not really know what it means. Other people will not agree with it and think that it has no value and others will fully embrace it and live their life by it. It seems to be fashionable to throw the term holistic health around but it has been around for a long time.

Holistic health is simply the way we approach life, a whole life approach if you like, rather than just focusing on specific parts of the body or just focusing on an illness. This approach focuses on the whole body and how a person interacts with the environment, it is seen as the connection of mind, body and spirit. Thought holistic health a person is aiming to have the optimum level of well-being where each part is functioning at the highest level and a person has to learn that they are in control of their well-being and what they do every day through the choices they make will affect the health and well-being.

The problem being that on the whole people may not know how to care for themselves as a whole. There well-being may be all over the place and whilst one part is at a high level in other areas of their well-being may be at a lower level. For example their physical well-being may be excellent, they will have a nutritious balanced diet and exercise daily to a good level which in turn helps them maintain a good weight and level of body fat. However mentally they may suffer from a lot of anxiety day to day and they have no idea how to cope with this anxiety that is affecting their life on a daily basis. This is the key we are good at certain aspects of maintaining and improving our well-being but not others and most importantly we do not give our bodies enough time to rest. Our mind and body is always on catch up and we have little energy to spare to get us through each hectic day.

If a person is too busy working long hours in a stressful job which gives them total job satisfaction and high rewards that pay to give their family a fantastic life that is fine but if they are not exercising properly, sleeping well and eating a well-balanced nutritious diet then their total well-being will suffer. If you research well-being and wellness then there are different definitions and some have 5 strands, others 6 and others 7, including physical, spiritual, environmental, mental, relationships and intellectual.

To adopt holistic health into our life we need to approach all areas in the same way and have a plan of how to do this. In fact SMART goals are going to be ideal as we need to be specific and measure what we are doing and in turn they have to be achievable goals, the goals would fit into a plan that could be used to achieve optimum well-being.

A person should look at their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being and then choose activities that fit into these areas.

For example

Physical may be a daily 45 minute walk, 30 minute jog or ride to work and back.

Mental may be meditation and deep breathing exercises

Emotional may be seeing friends or close family

Spiritual may be adopting a new hobby or interest and doing something that ignites a new passion and excitement.

However this means organisation, motivation, time management and forming habits. A person needs to start and keep at it as it does take time and there will be hiccups along the way. If you do fall off the bandwagon get back on as soon as possible, otherwise the good intentions will stay away. However a person should be realistic and take small steps towards total well-being.

For further reading look at the 8 dimensions of wellness.

1. Emotional

Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships

2. Environment

Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being

3. Financial

Satisfaction with current and future financial situations

4. Intellectual

Recognising creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills

5. Occupational

Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work

6. Physical

Recognising the need for physical activity, healthy foods, and sleep

7. Social

Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system

8. Spiritual

Expanding a sense of purpose and meaning in life


Paul Brown - Senior Member - ACCPH

CBT Coach - Practitioner - Wellness Consultant - MHFA

I work with organisations, businesses and private clients.

Mental health awareness seminars and 1-2-1 sessions.

I help clients to overcome anxiety, stress and negative thinking amongst other things.

Through learning, talking, sharing and encouragement anyone can achieve optimum mental and physical well-being

Become healthier, happier and more productive

Get in touch to find out more.

T- 07957101185



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