Holism says that the body and mind are intimately connected and greatly affect one another. Based on this idea, a holistic lifestyle involves nourishing your physical, mental, social, and emotional health—all the pieces that make you whole—in order to live your best life.
A symptoms-based approach to medicine, common in the Western world, believes in treating negative symptoms, often with drugs, while a holistic approach looks at the whole person, taking into account other factors than symptoms alone. Considering how hard it is for your physical health to thrive if your mental health is suffering, it makes a lot of sense to think of them as opposite sides of the same coin.
So how can one live more holistically?
Being mindful of lifestyle stressors and how they affect you is vital. Mindfulness can often lead to a better understanding of yourself and those around you, which can consequently improve other areas of your life. Here are some simple ways to practice holistic living if you’re new to the concept.
Meditation can be quite effective in managing stress. If you’re apprehensive, start small. Five minutes a day will do it, and you can always work up from there. Try listening to music, your heartbeat, or guided meditation if total silence tends to send your mind racing. Aromatherapy and/or breathwork may eventually become part of your practice when you feel more comfortable.
Exercise. Physical well-being is crucial to mental health and vice versa. The goal here should be less about physical appearance and more about feeling good in your body. Finding an activity that you look forward to and can be consistent with is key.
Diet. Healthy minds and bodies are fueled by healthy foods. This doesn’t mean restricting yourself or counting calories, it means being conscious about your choices. Fresh, organic, and colorful foods (think fruits, veggies, fish, nuts, etc.) will help you look, feel, and perform your best.
Self-Care. Just like you need sleep, food, and water, your body needs nourishment in other forms too. Chronic stress can manifest in lots of negative ways, which is why it’s crucial to listen to what your body is telling you it needs. Self-care can be anything that makes you feel good from getting a massage to taking a nap or staying off social media.
Self-Development. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise and keeps your brain sharp. Learning new things can help you discover new passions, hobbies, and interests, all of which contribute to your well-being. Travel somewhere new, take a class, learn a language, read books, meet new people, go to therapy, raise a pet. Be a life-longer learner.
Sleep. Almost nothing rivals getting enough sleep when it comes to mental health. A crucial part of holistic living, sleep contributes to everything from energy and the ability to focus, to mood and appetite. Lack of sleep has been linked to an increased risk for things like anxiety, depression, heart disease, and cancer, so it’s important to develop healthy habits where sleep is concerned.
How will you try living more holistically? Let us know in the comments!