If you have an infection or a serious disease, western medicine is your best bet for fixing the problem. But if you want to be healthy and happy every day, you need holistic health.
A holistic approach to health means treating the whole person. Rather than just treating the symptoms of disease, holistic healthcare looks at lifestyle, mental health, pre-existing conditions, and more. It’s not just about getting better, but living better too.
To see what we mean, imagine you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure. Western medicine would say you need blood-thinning medication, and that’s good – thinning your blood will help.
But a holistic approach would investigate more deeply:
Is the high blood pressure due to diet? What’s an eating plan that could help long-term?
Maybe you’re lifestyle is too stressful and that’s the root cause – what are some ways to reduce stress and bring calm into your life?
Are you exercising enough? How can you build more activity into your lifestyle for long-term health?
Prevent and minimise illness with a holistic approach
Holistic healthcare looks at good health as a network, taking care of each aspect of the network to prevent problems from snowballing.
Imagine you hurt your ankle and decide to just walk on it anyway. Pretty soon, your other ankle will start to hurt too because you’re forcing it to overcompensate for the injury.
A more worrying example is someone with arthritis who has a flareup due to stress at work. The flare-up leaves them bed-ridden and they have to take time off. Being stuck at home and in pain – and even more stressed about work – which, in turn, makes them feel guilty and useless and that develops into a depressive episode. Due to the depression, they overeat and gain weight, exacerbating their arthritis.
As you can see, it’s not just about the arthritis! Health is about stress, support networks, mental healthcare, workplace culture, and so much more.
Here are 5 ways you can take a more holistic approach to your health:
1. Daily meditation
Mindfulness is trending these days, and for good reasons. Research has shown that regular meditation is great for your mental health, cognition, and your physical health.
In a study of breast cancer survivors, researchers were amazed to see that mediation didn’t just help with the psychological aspects of recovery but also the physical side. At a cellular level, meditation boosted healing!
Whether you’re trying to heal or simply want a more grounded, centred, and healthy life, daily meditation is an essential part of holistic health.
2. Skincare can be healthcare
One of the best daily habits to change if you’re looking to boost your health long-term is skincare.
Cleansing, moisturising, toning – whatever your routine, the products you use are important.
If your skincare products are full of harmful chemicals, your system will be getting a dose of them everyday. On the other hand, if those products are all-natural and healthy then you’ll be treating your body to a boost of vitamins, amino acids, and other nutrients every day!
Avoid products with ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), parabens, alcohol, formaldehyde, propylene glycol, or artificial fragrances. These ingredients will damage your skin and your general health over time. Rethink your skincare cabinet and replace those harmful products with organic alternatives. Companies like Okana create preservative-free, natural skincare products with healthful ingredients including:
Grape seed oil
Apple cider vinegar
3. Good diet and exercise
Eating well and exercising regularly are both essential to good health and preventing disease. It’s common for people to do one or the other, but they need to go together.
Keeping your body active helps with muscle development, cardio-respiratory health, blood pressure, cognitive health, and much more. How you’re fueling your body is just as important. Exercising every day won’t help too much if you’re eating nothing but saturated fats, carbs, and sugar.
There’s so much conflicting information out there about the best diet to eat. You can ignore ‘miracle’ diets, weight loss pills, and other scams that prey on your anxieties. But generally lean proteins, minimal sugar, and heaps of veggies is the way to go. Ideally, you should dig deeper though – your ideal diet can be tailored to meet your needs, your health goals, and even your genetic profile.
So, don’t just get the gym membership – find a good nutritionist as well. By fuelling your body the right way, you’ll have better workouts and your body will be getting the right nutrients for long-term health.
4. Choose the right healthcare professionals
Holistic health isn’t about neglecting checkups with your GP – just make sure your GP is on-board with holistic approaches to health.
Some doctors are trained in other healthcare traditions, such as osteopathy, with a more holistic approach. But even a GP who is open to supporting your holistic health journey is very helpful.
If you’re able to, it’s helpful to assemble a healthcare supergroup. As well as your doctor, find a physiotherapist, nutritionist, psychologist, and whoever else you need. If you’re religious, a trusted priest, rabbi or other spiritual advisor guide can form an important part of your holistic healthcare team.
5. Take care of mind and body
Your state of mind really does affect your overall health. You can’t cure a disease with willpower but fostering a positive, peaceful mindset can prevent illnesses, make your more resilient, and help you recover after sickness.
Whether you love to get into nature, play an instrument, paint or something else, find ways to bring joy into your everyday life. Some habits to keep your mind healthy and happy are:
Daily deep breathing sessions
Get creative: draw, colour in, journal, play an instrument
Talk to trusted friends and family
Watch a funny movie – laughter is seriously good for you
Use positive affirmations each morning – train your mind for positivity