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Holistic Health

Holistic health care is an integrated approach to healing rooted in the idea that the most effective practices are those that consider the whole person, rather than focusing on specific illnesses, body parts or symptoms. The goal of holistic health care is to achieve maximum wellbeing in all facets of one's life, where everything is functioning at its very best.

There are five dimensions of personal health considered by a holistic health practitioner which include:

  • Physical: More than just exercise, maintaining physical wellbeing involves a nutritional diet, proper hygiene and getting the appropriate amount of sleep.
  • Emotional: This refers to a person's ability to cope with daily stressors and problems, handle success as well as defeat and manage study, work and other activities. An emotionally healthy person feels good about themselves and is in control of their feelings and behavior.
  • Mental: Also regarded as intellectual health, this concerns a person's ability to concentrate, think, learn and make sound decisions.
  • Spiritual: This aspect of personal health is viewed as one's ability to determine their sense of purpose or meaning which may be maintained through a connection to a higher power.
  • Social: This refers to how a person forms and maintains positive relationships. It also involves how a person handles conflict and recognizes negative relationships.

Holistic health may involve a team of specialists such as therapists, counselors, physicians, clergy, nutritionists and more. A serious approach to holistic health may require some commitment--the strategies involved in holistic health are often not 'quick fixes.'

Strategies to Achieve Holistic Health

While a holistic health practitioner may recommend a team of specialists to address health concerns, there are everyday activities one can take to improve their wellbeing and achieve balance in each aspect of personal health.

Yoga: Practicing yoga can enhance physical, spiritual and mental wellness. It helps to increase flexibility, muscle strength, respiration and energy. Incorporating meditation and breathing techniques can also help manage stress and sharpen concentration.

Tai Chi: This practice combines slow, deliberate movements with meditation and breathing exercises. The low-impact movements can help a person maintain balance and reduce the risks of a fall. Similar to yoga, tai chi treats the physical, spiritual and mental aspects of health.

Sleep: The benefits of sleep, and the detriments of not getting enough, can impact every part of daily life. The benefits include reducing stress and improving emotional health, sharpening focus, maintaining a healthy weight and preserving positive relationships. Most adults need seven to eight hours of quality sleep.

Hygiene: Poor hygiene can affect a person's physical and social health. Body odor and an unclean appearance can hinder the formation of relationships. Simple acts such as regular bathing and hand washing can help maintain hygiene and also stop the transmission of viruses and bacteria.

Nutrition: Ensuring your body gets the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs is essential to function optimally. Having a healthy diet can improve the body's ability to recover from illness or injury, reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and more.

Exercise: Like sleep, regular exercise has been shown to positively affect nearly all aspects of daily life. Not only can it help with weight loss and build muscle, exercise can boost energy levels, build resistance to injury and risk of chronic pain and disease and improve brain function.

Therapies

Therapy approaches are many and varied, but they all involve working with a trained therapist. These counselors take a skilled approach to treating depression, anxiety, physical injuries and more.

Some of the different forms of therapy are:

Counseling: The most common type of therapy and used frequently to provide help or support to individuals grappling with relationship issues, careers, visualization and more.

Mindfulness-Based Therapy: Therapists guide individuals to break away from negative thought patterns and accept their emotions without feeling overwhelmed by them. Some practices might suggest exercise, yoga and meditation as well.

Art: Involves expressing creativity through drawing, painting, coloring, sculpting or other techniques to resolve deeper issues. The goal is to help people relieve stress, manage anxiety and elevate mood, and cope with physical illnesses or disabilities.

Pets: Spending time with pets has been known to positively impact many aspects of personal health. Animal-assisted therapy can improve physical wellbeing and increase self-esteem. Pet therapy might also help lower blood pressure and risk of other health problems.

Massage: This form of therapy involves hands-on techniques. A massage can increase blood circulation throughout the body, relieve muscle and joint tension, improve sleep and posture, and strengthen the immune system. Regular massages can also reduce stress and improve mood.

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