Holistic Health: Bringing It All Together
Over the past few months, I've explored the various aspects of Holistic Health in these blogposts. Now, it's time for us to bring it all together. To look at it health as a whole. Because isn't that the very basis of Holistic Health? To look at the bigger picture. To see it all as one. To embrace the whole. The Holistic Health approach is a way of keeping ourselves in check. It's a way of ensuring that we are fully taking care of all areas of our lives. It's a way to keep ourselves functioning at our highest potential. But most importantly, it's an exploration method for processing problems and bringing more awareness into our lives.
First, let's get a complete list of aspects of holistic health. The list I use is an adaptation of the model presented within the Shamanic Life Coaching course by Joeel Rivera, Natalie Rivera, and Victoria Hawkins, which in turn was adapted from the life coaching model for complete wellness.
I view holistic health as the following categories (listed in no particular order):
1. Physical Health--- Giving attention to your sleep, exercise, diet, hygiene, routine, and physical environment.
2. Mental Health--- Giving attention to answering life questions, challenging yourself intellectually, and observing your thoughts.
3. Emotional Health--- Giving attention to processing emotion, your current emotional state, and what you surround yourself with emotionally.
4. Social Health--- Giving attention to needed socialization and alone time.
5. Spiritual Health--- Giving attention to inspiration, meaning making, and connection with something greater than yourself.
6. Energetic Health--- Giving attention to what you energetically focus on.
7. Self-Expressive Health--- Giving attention to inner feelings of self and outer expressions of identity.
But how can you use this list? Try exploring these suggestions:
Use it as a way of making sure you are taking care of all areas of your self. Think of each category of Holistic Health as a cup that is constantly evaporating. Some cups evaporate more quickly than others, and others can be completely knocked over and emptied with one life twist. Pay attention to how filled each cup is for you each day. Figure out what each cup means for you and decide on how often you need to do that activity to fill it back up. Maybe you want to exercise every other day, get enough sleep each night, check in with a friend daily, do a crossword puzzle every evening, listen to energetically charging music on your commute home, meditate daily, and participate in a spiritual practice once a week. Get into a habit of looking through the list once a day, just checking in to see if that cup of your health is filled or empty that day. And remember: not all cups will evaporate at the same rate! You may find spiritual health only needs to be filled three times a week, while physical health may need a daily filling. Listen to your intuition and go with what you feel you need.
Use it as a way of continuously functioning at your highest potential. Going back to the analogy of cups--- if all of your cups are filled, you'll be rocking and rolling in life. Yet if you are constantly running on empty in one category, you'll notice that it will start affecting all areas of your health. The perfect example of this is to skip one night of sleep (not that I recommend this). Of course you'll feel rough physically, as your Physical Cup will likely be emptied, but notice how it affects other areas: you might withdraw socially, you might be emotionally upset, you might feel difficulty engaging in mental activities, and you might feel energetically and spiritually disconnected and drained. One area has the potential to affect all the other pieces of Holistic Health: cups can knock each other over! So even if you are totally killing it with your Physical Health cup (your cup runneth over), if you are totally ignoring your Emotional Health cup, you won't be functioning at your highest potential. It's only through holistically looking at your set of cups do you start completely rocking it at life.
Use it as a tool for exploration and processing of problems. If you notice that you're not feeling right, reference the list and try to figure out what's off. Try to figure out which cup is on empty, which cup is half-filled, which cups are filled. For instance, a few weeks ago, I was driving home and thinking about how I just didn't feel like I was functioning at my highest potential. I asked myself why, and I began going through the Holistic Health list in my head. My mental dialogue probably looked something like this:
"Physical Health? Well, I've really been eating healthy and I exercising. I think I'm good there. What about my Mental Health? I can't think of any recurring thoughts, and I felt challenged today at work in a very positive, Mental-Health-type-of-way. I think that area is fine. Emotional Health? Hmm... I think feel a little dissatisfied. I'll take note of needing to pay attention to my Emotional Health. Social Health? I've been having plenty of alone time, which has been satisfying. But I think I need to see a friend soon. I need to make a note of that. How about Spiritual Health? I took some time earlier to meditate and last night I worked on some connection with the divine-- I think I'm good there. What about Energetic Health? I really feel energetically down right now. I need to do something about that. How about my Self-Expressive Health? Oh, I think that's good. I've been spending a lot of time doing things that line up with who I am deep inside, and I feel very grounded and secure in my identity. So, I need to give some attention towards my Emotional Health, specifically paying attention to processing that feeling of dissatisfaction--- I can do that tonight through journaling. Then I need to make some plans to meet up with a friend for coffee or hanging out--- I can make those plans this evening when I get home. Lastly, I need to raise my energy a bit. I can do that right now, just by putting on some music that would satisfy me energetically---probably something light hearted and jamming."
Notice how I used the list to scan my Holistic Health and identify what was out of balance for me, then used that insight to guide me into activities that I knew would uphold that area of health. It's a great model for exploring what's wrong and how to go about fixing that area. It gives us a framework for how to bring about healing and keeping ourselves healthy.
And while we are busy pursuing Holistic Health, don't forget to encourage those around you to do the same. Just like the individual pieces of Holistic Health and how they affect the whole of health, when we as individuals are all functioning at our greatest potential, we also affect the whole of society. We can make a society that honors Spiritual Health. We can make a society that honors Emotional Health. We can all be holistically on our A-game. We can push our society into a state of overall health. We can be the change we want to see.
Now, go be that change and honor your Holistic Health!