Holistic health is more than just a way to treat illness or improve your wellbeing, it's a way of life. You may wonder what the path to holistic health looks like, given that it comprises every aspect of your being, including mind, body and spirit. It also involves more than visiting a holistic health practitioner — it involves taking charge of your own health and wellness.
Consider these five steps to travel down the path to holistic health.
1. Understand holistic health.
Holistic health stems from ancient health care practices that date back thousands of years, but the term only arose in the 20th century. It's a philosophy of care that takes the whole person into account as opposed to just the physical body, and prioritizes lifestyle changes and natural methods of healing before surgery and drugs. It is also founded on the belief in the interconnectedness of all things in the world.
2. Empower yourself to take charge of your health and wellbeing.
One of the major tenets of holistic medicine is that you have a great deal of control over your own wellness. Many patients turn to holistic health after becoming disenchanted with mainstream Western medicine because of the lack of power they feel they have to control their own health. Holistic health emphasizes a partnership between providers and patients.
3. Embrace lifestyle changes to improve your health.
The empowerment feeds right into the lifestyle changes you make. You can work with your holistic health providers or medical doctors to identify changes to make, but it's up to you to practice change in your daily life.
On the American Holistic Health Association site, Dr. Micheal Arloski describes it this way:
"There are the risk factors of genetics, toxic environments and the like, but our emotional and lifestyle choices determine our health and well-being more than anything else. As much as we’d like to cling to blame and cop-outs, we must be honest with ourselves. The flip side is the empowerment this realization gives us."
Changes could involve diet and nutrition, exercise and meditation, stress reduction and many other choices and habits that lead to better overall health and wellbeing.
4. Practice self-love.
Part of all of these factors that help you along the path to holistic health is the practice of self love. The Holistic Directory describes the process this way:
"Self-love is about loving yourself first or putting your own needs and desires ahead of those of others. It is a mixture of self-esteem, self-worth and self-confidence. Self-love is about caring and nurturing for ourselves as a mother would her own child."
If you're worried about an excess of self-love making you narcissistic, the Directory urges you to think of it this way: "It is about putting that oxygen mask on yourself before you help the person sitting next to you on the plane that’s about to crash."
Part of self love is doing things for yourself that improve the health of your whole being — it's like the opposite of a vicious circle, but an empowering, wellness-enhancing circle.
5. Find the practitioners and therapies that work for you.
Pursuing a path to holistic health doesn't require that you forsake Western medicine. Natural and homeopathic practices and remedies can work in concert with traditional health care. Just be forthcoming with all of your health providers about what treatments you use.
The following practices and treatments may compliment your wellness regimen: traditional Chinese medicine, massage, acupuncture, yoga and meditation. Find what makes you feel your best, and heals the ailments you experience.
The Acupuncture and Massage College offers programs in Oriental medicine and massage therapy, along with holistic health treatments in our community clinic. Contact (305) 595-9500 for details.