What Is Holistic Health? (And How to Use It in Your Life!)

What is Holistic Health?

The term “holistic” seems to be everywhere these days. Not sure exactly what the word means or if you need it in your life? We “wholly” believe in holistic health and feel everyone can benefit from its effects.

Holistic health, or holism, is defined as treating the whole person — mind, body, and spirit — rather than individual symptoms, and considering how they connect with nature, both internally and externally.

Of course, the health of our physical body plays a huge role in our overall wellness. When we talk about a healthy mind, we are addressing the mental, emotional, psychological state. And when we refer to spirit, we are not talking about religion. We are talking about our own innate belief system — everything you have experienced (seen, heard, read, and learned from parents, peers, and teachers) comprises your spirit, the core of who you are.

In Western medicine, doctors tend to treat the symptoms of their patients, often with medication. Not only does this not address the root of the illness or issue, but does nothing to repair it. Our culture also tends to focus on single aspects of a healthful lifestyle, like diet or exercise. Going vegan or hitting the circuit training three plus times each week may be considered ways to get healthy, but holistic health is more about whole body health — how you feel in your mind and spirit, as well as your body — rather than simply keeping weight at an optimal level or toning up muscles.

Maybe you are lean and toned. But how is your sleep? Is your stress level in check? Do you socialize with people who make you feel supported and balanced on a regular basis? You get the picture--this whole holistic health thing takes more into account than looking fit. It’s about feeling healthy on the whole.

Not to say holistic wellness has nothing to do with how the body looks and feels. When we experience health in the whole sense, we enjoy a healthy body. We feel energetic, our appetite and digestion are on track, and our skin and hair look youthful and healthy. But we also get to experience the feelings of a healthy mind and spirit. This means we can manage stress easily, are free from feelings of negative emotions and brain fog, have high self-esteem, and, basically, enjoy life.

This may sound like perfection but it is seriously not out of reach. Holistic wellness may look a bit different for everyone, but we can all experience our own level of holistic health. Before we get started with ways you can employ holistic health techniques in your own life, let’s find out how (and why) people have been going holistic for centuries.

A Brief History of Holistic Health

Holistic health is not new by any means. The ancient science, also known as Ayurveda, is thought to date back to the 2nd century BC. While the practice originated in India, it was also being practiced in China by 400 AD. Ancient Greeks believed that most illness was a result of diet and lifestyle, and started focusing on disease prevention at around 500 BC. And by 50 BC Ancient Romans were addressing disease prevention, as well.

It wasn’t until the mid-1600s that the Oxford English Dictionary first officially recognized the term “wellness”. The 1960s prompted Americans to get behind the idea of holism because of a sense of disappointment and distrust in the traditional medical system, and concepts of preventative health care and self-care through mind and natural treatments were adopted.

While people who believed in whole body wellness in the 1960s and ‘70s may have been considered hippy or New Age, today holistic health is embraced by many as a way of life. A support system that complements traditional medicine.

Our Link to Nature

While Ayurveda is considered a system of medicine, holism involves the relationship of the body to nature and the elements of the universe. We are made of the same chemical elements as those in nature. Every chemical component found in the earth, in plants, and in the sea is also found in the human body. Because we are made up of the same components as nature, we are greatly affected, both inwardly and outwardly, by everything in our environment, including weather, pollution, sunlight, and other people and their emotions.

Emotional health and well-being also plays a large part in holism. We now know how stress affects our minds and physical bodies, with chronic stress having links to anxiety disorders, heart disease, high blood pressure, rapid aging, weight gain, osteoporosis, digestive issues, and cancer. The American Medical Association has stated that 80% of our modern illnesses are stress related. That is staggering.

The good news? There are solutions to rampant stress that are doable and easy. Let’s take a look at ways you can incorporate holistic health into your life starting today.

Holistic Health Tips

Nutrition — We talked about how diet and exercise are not the be all, end all of a healthful lifestyle. But, of course, a healthy eating plan is the foundation of any healthy body. The foods we eat have the most physical effect on our bodies — it’s true. Not only in relation to our weight, but how we feel and the way our system performs. For instance, too much sugar can cause irritability and fatigue, and can even make skin look older. Dread! Eating a diet of fresh, whole foods (organic is best) is the best first step in a holistic lifestyle.

Exercise — Yes, we all need it. But this doesn’t necessarily mean running marathons or HIIT classes are the way to go for everyone. Walking, swimming, dancing, and yoga are all good ways to get active. The key is find an activity you ENJOY. Forcing yourself into an activity you don’t enjoy just adds more stress. You will be more apt to make exercise a regular practice when it’s fun and you look forward to doing it. And be sure to get out into nature each day too.

Meditation — Those stress levels we talked about? Meditation is a great way to keep them from running wild, and causing bad feelings and potential health issues. You don’t have to sit cross legged for thirty minutes a day to reap the benefits of a regular meditation practice. Stop for one minute each hour and focus on your breath to bring yourself into the moment and quell feelings of monkey mind. Set an alert on your phone so you don’t forget. Even simply keeping your attention on the task at hand (even if that is folding laundry or washing dishes) is a way to get back to present.

Skin and Body Care — Skin is the body’s largest organ, and is responsible for protecting the internal organs and communicating to the rest of the body through touch, climate, and environment. The messages the skin receives contribute to our thoughts and physiological responses. This means the skin and body care we use on our skin can affect how we feel, as well as how we look. It is also the first line of immune defense, so keeping the skin healthy keeps us healthy.

Aromatherapy — The art and science of using aromas to reduce unpleasant feelings and instill a sense of good health has been around for centuries. The oldest known use of aromatherapy was found in Persia in 4000 BC. Holistic aromatherapy is the use of essential plant oils to bring about feelings of balance for mind, body, and spirit.

What is Holistic Skin and Body Care?

Holistic Health and Skin Care

The skin is the only organ that we can see on a daily basis. We can determine if it is irritated, dull, rough, inflamed, or calm and happy simply by touching it or looking in a mirror. If the skin is unhappy, it will let you know in ways we don’t want (blemishes, pigmentation, rashes etc). It is time to take a deeper look at what may be causing the situation.

While the methods listed above should help to keep your complexion feeling healthy and looking its best, what you apply to your skin is meaningful too. Choosing products made with healthy, natural ingredients that are designed to offer the skin and body feelings of good health is an effective way to care for your skin and body.

Holistic skincare products are made with carefully selected natural ingredients that have specific benefits to the look and feel of skin and body. For instance, Thalassotherapy is the use of sea products, like seaweed and sea water, to beautify and offer healing sensations to the skin and body. It is used to reduce feelings of pain and stress, and can also improve the skin’s appearance.

It is thought that Thalassotherapy helps give a restorative feeling of balance to the body. And seaweed acts similarly on skin when used in skincare. Its unique makeup is rich in nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and other trace elements from the sea that are compatible with the “inner sea” that circulates throughout our bodies. These nutrients often are elements we do not get in out diet and are essential to good skin. This makes seaweed the perfect ingredient for restoring a look of health and vitality to our skin, while offering feelings of good health to our body too.

How to Use Aromatherapy for Holistic Health

Holistic Health and Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is an easy way to add holistic health to your daily routine. You can use single oils, professional blends, or blend your own custom combinations. Always be sure you are using pure essential oils from a reputable supplier to eliminate the hazards associated with synthetic fragrance.

Starting with your favorite scents is one way to boost a feeling of brightened mood and give the mind a calmer feel. Or enlist the help of oils with specific holistic attributes to target feelings and issues you’d like to address.

Calming — To give mind and body a calming sensation and quell feelings of nervousness, try using Lavender, Chamomile, Mandarin, and Ylang Ylang.
*Angelica Root and Rose are good calming oils, but as “precious oils” they can be cost prohibitive for daily use.

Uplifting — For an uplifting feel for the senses, use Bergamot, Grapefruit, Orange, Mandarin, and Rosemary.

Energy — Boost a sensation of energy in the morning or during that mid-day slump with Basil, Peppermint, and Orange.

Relaxing — Encourage a spirit of sweet dreams by using Tangerine, Geranium, Lavender, Bergamot, and Spearmint.

Adding these practices into your daily routine offers big time benefits to body, mind, and spirit. Choose one or two of our tips to start, then add more in as you go. Once you experience an improvement in how you look and feel, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without holistic health in your life.