What Does It Mean to Take a “Holistic Approach”?
What comes to mind when you picture a holistic approach? Perhaps you conjure images of a monk sitting in perfect silence, meditating and contemplating the big questions of the world. Or maybe you envisage a Gwenyth Paltrow-esque clean eating superstar who practices hours of yoga every day and surrounds themselves with crystals and fragrant incense sticks. And while both of these figures are indeed living holistically in many ways, they’re both potentially off-putting caricatures, who intimidate us mere mortals just trying to live our healthiest, happiest lives.
A holistic approach has very little to do with unreachable feats of self-restraint, inhuman levels of patience or unhelpful comparisons with others, and far more to do with you as an individual. The word holistic comes from the Greek word “holos”— meaning “entire” or “all.” This approach to “all of you” is at the very heart of a holistic approach.
To take a holistic approach is to address and maintain a good balance between your mind, body and spirit, and to be aware of how your social and everyday environment plays a role in those relationships. When we talk about living holistically, what we are really talking about is about making lifestyle choices that nourish us not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually.
Whatever your age, fitness level, gender, job, family life — we can all make choices that reflect our deepest values and goals and help us to achieve optimum physical, mental, and spiritual health.
In this post, we take a deeper look at how to apply a holistic approach to life and show you why it may be easier than you think.
How to Take a Holistic Approach to Your Day to Day Life
There’s no formula or set equation for taking a holistic approach to your life. After all, we’re all individuals and we each have different emotional, physical and spiritual needs and desires. But although we’re all unique, we all share some basic needs. We’re all physical beings — we all require food, water, and air to live. The food we eat may be different and the air and water quality may not be the same, but they’re still shared necessities across the human race. Similarly, we all experience a range of emotions — happiness, sadness, love, pain. The quantity and intensity of these emotions may vary, but they’re still a fundamental shared part of our life experience.
If you want to start taking a more holistic approach to your daily life but are unsure where to begin, focus on the basic impulses we all share. Once you’ve begun to understand the relationship between the daily choices you make and your overall health and happiness, you can tweak your daily routines and rituals to be more in tune and harmonised with what you truly need and value in life.
Eat Foods with a Low List of Ingredients
Food is never something you should begrudge yourself. Far too often, we’re bombarded with advice on how we should eat this — but not that, and are taught to judge and berate ourselves when we fall off the proverbial wagon and indulge in something calorific, sugary, or deep-fried. Having a holistic approach to food is not about dieting. Anything that leaves you feeling bad about yourself, guilty or frustrated, is doing more damage than it is good. Remember — the idea is to think about how your choices nurture you as “a whole.”
When it comes to taking a holistic approach to your food, an easy and simple way to start is to opt for foods with the fewest ingredients. The science is simple — fewer ingredients equates to fewer preservatives, additives and nasty chemicals. Although there’s nothing wrong with indulging your sweet tooth or binging on some home comforts, additives in food are terrible for our overall health and can lead to a whole host of problems including obesity, insomnia, and depression. By sticking to whole foods and home-cooked foods as often as possible, you can ensure your diet is nutritious, delicious, and beneficial for your overall health.
Drink, Drink and Drink Lots of Water
Water is the elixir of life. Not only do our organs, cells, and bodily systems require water to function, but water is also essential for detoxifying and flushing toxins out of the body. In general, you should aim to drink between 6-8 glasses of water a day, and never get to a stage where you’re thirsty. When you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Drinking water is probably the easiest way of keeping your body and mind happy, so what are you waiting for? Get drinking!
Move, Grove and Shake It Out
Our modern lives are often sedentary. Unless you’re lucky enough to work in an active job, chances are you spend a large proportion of your day sitting at a desk — and all that sitting takes its toll. Not only is staying in the same position for long periods bad for our waistlines, but it’s also linked to a whole range of other conditions including high blood pressure, chronic back and neck pain, and depression.
So shake off the lethargy and get moving. You don’t have to commit to hours in the gym or cripple yourself with back-to-back muscle-boosting sessions either — just incorporating some movement into your everyday life will boost your mood, increase fitness and improve your overall health and happiness. Take the stairs instead of the lift, take a walk in your lunch break, put on some music and have a dance —shake it out!
Commit to a Digital Detox
We’re living through a period of technological innovation. Today we can find the answer to our questions with the click of a button, connect with long-lost friends using an app, and explore new ideas and places in a few simple searches. But with all the benefits of the digital age comes many serious drawbacks. Who hasn’t been drawn down the rabbit hole of social media only to end up feeling bad about their own life? Or failed to connect with friends and family because you can’t tear yourself away from your phone?
A digital detox is just a little break from the constant loop of information. Start small and for 30 minutes every evening turn off the phone, close the laptop, hide the tablet, and embrace the non-virtual world.
Recite Positive Thoughts
Sometimes life brings us down. But there are some techniques and tips for keeping your head above water. Positive incantations are a great way of reminding yourself how exceptional and valuable you are. Whether you’re silently thinking on positive ideas in meditation or physically standing in front of a mirror and telling yourself “I am fabulous, strong and brave”, taking time to check in with yourself is a great way of keeping going when things get tough.
How to Boost Your Holistic Lifestyle with Holistic Therapies
Taking a holistic approach is about making the best decisions for you and sometimes that means it’s time to call in the professionals. Holistic therapists are skilled in the philosophies and practices that can help you to live your best life and are a deep reservoir of knowledge and experience for you to draw on.
Today, holistic therapies are prescribed by doctors and praised by scientists and health enthusiasts alike. If you’re interested in exploring the different types of holistic therapies out there, check out our blog on the six holistic therapies that will change your life.
Taking the holistic approach doesn’t have to be daunting, follow our steps, and book yourself a holistic therapy or treatment today and embrace “all of you.”