Holistic wellness is approaching health with the goal to achieve balance in the whole person, not just in our physical wellbeing. It’s about caring for all areas of our life—mental, emotional, spiritual, social and physical—equally. When one area suffers, it has a negative impact on all the other parts of ourself. Pursuing wellness holistically is about finding balance in all these areas and in turn creating a sense of harmony between the different parts of ourselves.
There are many different ways to pursue holistic wellness. Some people may find that meditation and yoga help them to relax and connect with their inner selves. Others may prefer more active pursuits such as running or hiking in nature. There is no right or wrong way—it’s simply about finding what feels best for you.
Making small changes in your lifestyle that pursue holistic wellness can make a big difference to your overall health and happiness. For example, pursuing holistic wellness entails eating healthy, natural foods, exercising more regularly, getting enough sleep and spending time with loved ones. All of these are important components of a well-rounded life, and by taking care of yourself holistically, you’ll be better equipped to deal with the challenges that come your way.
Here are 6 ways to practice holistic wellness in your daily life:
- Connect with nature. Spending time outdoors in nature, appreciating the beauty around you and connecting with the natural world does wonders for our health. Being in nature brings a sense of calmness into your day and can help relieve stress and anxiety. Anything from simply taking the time to be outside for a little while each day, going on walks, or traveling to nature spots, spending time in nature is incredibly grounding and healing for all parts of our self.
- Eat healthy. Nourishing your body with wholesome, nutritious food will give you energy and vitality. Avoid processed foods or those high in sugar, fat, and chemicals, as processed food can be detrimental to your health. Pursuing a holistically healthy diet helps reduce your risk for developing obesity or other chronic health conditions, and can help improve your overall energy levels and moods by providing your body with nutrient-rich foods.
- Practice yoga. Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India, and the word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root yuj, which means “to yoke” or “to unite.” Yoga is a system of physical and mental exercises that are designed to promote health and well-being, and there are many different types of yoga. All yogic practices involve breathwork, meditation, and postures (asanas)—breathwork helps to control the body’s natural rhythms and improve respiratory function, meditation stills the mind and promotes inner peace, and the asanas (physical postures) stretch and strengthen the muscles while promoting balance in the body. Yoga can help to relieve stress and anxiety by calming the mind and promoting relaxation, alongside improving flexibility, strength, and balance.
- Meditate. Make time each day to quieten your mind through meditation. There are many ways to meditate, and not all have to involve yogic poses. Meditation can be any type of mental practice that focuses on calming the mind from simply sitting in silence and focusing on your breathing to guided meditations incorporating specific breathing and thinking techniques. Meditation can help you focus your thoughts, connect with your inner peace, and reduce stress and anxiety levels.
- Try aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils—aromatic compounds extracted from plants—to promote physical and psychological well-being. Aromatherapy can reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost energy levels. One study found that lavender oil may help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality, while another discovered that peppermint oil can improve task performance and alertness. Aromatherapy is considered safe when used properly; be sure to purchase essential oils from a reputable source and follow all safety instructions carefully.
- Try acupuncture. Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for centuries, focusing on the principle that there are energy channels, or meridians, running throughout the body. They are believed to be connected to various organs and bodily systems, and when these channels become blocked or out of balance, it can lead to illness or disease. Acupuncture is said to correct imbalances by placing thin needles into specific points along these energy channels. Studies have shown that acupuncture can be effective in treating different types of pain by stimulating the release of endorphins—the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals—and by blocking pain signals from being sent to the brain. Acupuncture has also been used as a treatment for infertility issues, as studies have found it may help improve pregnancy rates among women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), and may help increase blood flow to the uterus and ovaries. Acupuncture also helps reduce stress levels by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which effects mood regulation.
Here are 6 ways holistic practices such as these are beneficial to our health:
- Boost your mood and energy levels. When you feel good physically, it’s easier to maintain a positive outlook on life. Regular exercise releases endorphins—the “feel-good” hormones—which can help improve your mood and fight off feelings of anxiety or depression. Pursuing other hobbies and activities that make you happy also contribute to a more positive outlook on life. Doing holistic activities such as yoga or being in nature are also great to make us feel more at peace and calm when faced with stress or anxiety.
- Strengthen the immune system. By following a holistic based diet of healthy, natural foods, it strengthens our immune systems and therefore our whole self. A strong immune system is crucial for warding off illness and disease. Following other holistic methods of staying healthy like getting regular exercise, managing stress levels with healthy coping strategies and getting enough sleep are all key components of boosting immunity. Some complementary therapies such as acupuncture or massage therapy may also help by promoting relaxation and reducing stress hormone levels.
- Reduce chronic pain. Chronic pain affects millions of people worldwide, debilitating life and interfering with work, sleep, and daily activities . Studies show that mind-body therapies such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, hypnosis, biofeedback, progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can have positive effects on chronic pain.
- Improve your heart health. Making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet is a big part of holistic wellness, and this diet can improve blood pressure and reduce stress, both important aspects of heart health. Studies have found that meditation can significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared to those who do not meditate. Studies have also found that people who participated in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program had reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and improved heart health markers such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Practice improved breathing. This benefits anyone with past lung issues, asthma, or anxiety. The way that you breathe has a direct impact on your nervous system and can influence everything from your stress levels to your energy levels. That’s why yoga, meditation and breathwork are all such powerful tools for promoting holistic wellness. Yoga focuses on slow, deep breathing which has a calming effect on the nervous system. This type of breathing helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Meditation also encourages slow, deep breathing and can help to quiet the mind chatter that can lead to anxiety and stress. Breathwork is another great tool for promoting deep, relaxed breaths as it helps to bring awareness to the breath itself. All of these practices have a direct effect on respiratory function and can help improve conditions like asthma or chronic bronchitis. They also improve oxygenation of the blood which leads to better overall circulation throughout the body. And because they promote relaxation, they can also help reduce blood pressure and heart rate. All of these things contribute to improved overall health and well-being.
- Promote better sleep habits. Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being, yet many of us struggle to get enough quality sleep on a regular basis. Holistic wellness practices can help improve our sleep patterns by promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels. The holistic practices listed above are all beneficial for improving sleep quality and regulating sleep patterns. Some other simple things you can do to promote better sleep through holistic wellness include: maintaining a regular sleep schedule; avoiding caffeine late in the day; exercising regularly; spending time outdoors in natural light during the daytime hours; and creating a calm and comfortable environment in your bedroom for sleeping.
Holistic wellness is the belief that our physical, mental, and emotional health are all connected, and we need to take care of ourselves in all three areas to be truly well. If we only focus on one area of our health, such as our physical fitness, we’re not really addressing the whole picture; and holistic wellness makes sure we do address the health of our entire being. When you’re physically healthy, you have more energy and stamina which can lead to better mental health, and when your mind and body are healthy, you’re better at facing life stressors and managing their effects on your emotional wellbeing. Holistic wellness encourages positive lifestyle choices and pursues health that encompasses all aspects of our being—body, mind, and spirit—helping us live happier, healthier lives.