Just what in the Heck am I doing here?!
Well… that’s exactly what I have been trying to figure out. What is my purpose? Do I have anything to offer the world? It took me some time, but I think I’ve finally got it figured out. And here is what I came up with.
I was told not to use the word holistic. My sister said that it sounds like I’m trying to cure cancer with herbs and my husband told me that the first thing he thought of was “OMG is my wife going to start selling vitamins?” I’m not going to lie, I kind of buy into the idea that your food DOES impact your changes of surviving cancer. But I’m not telling anyone to stop seeing their doctor. This is HOLISTIC wellness I’m talking about.
And somewhere along the way “holistic” turned into a word that has a negative new age-y herbal palm reading connotation. The truth is that holistic is supposed to be more well rounded than just that. Let’s define holistic wellness.
HOLISTIC – characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. OR characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.
That was a whole mouth full. So basically what I get from that is: the parts of something all intertwine to create a whole.
So when I refer to holistic wellness i’m talking about every aspect of health. Let me break it down a bit further. What are the “parts” of wellness?
This is more than just working out and eating well, though that is probably 90% of it. It is also getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, going to our your annual doctors appointments, and getting some vitamin D (aka 10 minutes of sunshine a day). This means not ignoring when you’re sick or feeling under the weather, but actually listening to your body.
There are tons of ways to keep track of how much you sleep or how many steps you get. I’ve really struggled to keep up with my doctors appointments, so one thing I’m doing now is making sure I schedule my next appointment (yes even if it’s not something I will do for another year) before I leave the doctors office.
MENTAL AND EMOTIONAL HEALTH
Your mental health is a huge part of your emotional well being. I could do 50 blog posts on this. But how you are doing emotionally is huge. It affects you physical health as well (hence the reason holistic is defined as being interconnected. They affect each other).
There was a study done in which everyone was split into two groups. All participants were given a mouth swab that had a cold virus on it. One group was put under stress and one wasn’t. Everyone in the group who was stressed ended up getting a cold and only a few people who were not put under stressful conditions got the cold. Cortisol levels are also correlated to other diseases and even cancers.I had a friend who was pregnant, but was also under extremely stressful situations and her doctor told her it would be better to smoke cigarettes than be under that level of stress during pregnancy.
I have seen other studies, however, that suggests that it’s not stress in GENERAL that makes you sick, it’s how you FEEL about stress. If you view it as a world-ending-this-is-the-worst-how-did-this-happen-to-me, you are more likely to get sick. BUUUUT if you view stress as oh wow, hey this is challenge that I can overcome then you’re less likely to get sick.
Regardless, you can’t control everything and everyone that is in you paths. All you can do is the best for yourself. Finding a way to take care of yourself, trying to plan and organize you life in a way that limits stress, challenging the way you think about things or learning how to cope with hard situations and to heal from them.
RELATIONAL AND SOCIAL HEALTH
I feel like simply saying “social health” isn’t enough. It doesn’t accurately depict quite how important relationships are in your lives. your relationships have a HUGE impact on who you are, how you think, how safe you view the world, your self-worth, and so much more. Any huge relational betrayal is going to impact your life monumentally. And this is something that our society definitely does not emphasis as much as it should. Having healthy relationships, setting boundaries, being able to have some humor and fun in your lives, and to be able to share moments, thoughts, values, inside jokes, whatever with another person is major.
Being able to have some sort of financial stability in life can take a lot of stress away and enable you to spend more time and energy in other areas that are important, like spirituality. If your main concern is where your next meal is or how you’re going to pay rent, chances are, you’re living in crisis mode. This list isn’t going to help if you are constantly trying to figure out how to survive. This is an easily overlooked area, but also a really important one. I really hope to do a blog post on financial stability soon, so keep a look out for that.
What is spirituality? Everyone looks at this a bit differently. I’ve heard many people say “Spirituality is the religion you believe in”. But not quite. I have met people who don’t have a religion, but are much more spiritual than other people I know who are religious. Spirituality and religion are two separate entities (though they can be interrelated to each other). Spirituality is different to everyone. For some people, it’s God, Allah, or Gods. To other people it might be nature. It could be a guiding force in your life that makes you who you are. Giving back to others, strong beliefs that you have, growing as a person, learning who you are, art, meditation, yoga. There are so many ways to explore and discover your own sense of spirituality. Ultimately, it’s what keeps you going in life and gives you a sense of purpose or fulfillment.
What stimulates your brain and makes you go “huh”? What are you curious about or interested in. Intellectual stimulation gets good brain juices flowing and can even decrease your chances of dementia. Intellectual wellness is about challenging yourself, feeding your interests and passions. Creativity can fit into this category as well.
What is worse than waking up everyday and spending 40 hours a week or 2,080 hours a YEAR at a job that you HATE. Working at a job where there is no potential for growth, no stability, no one to challenge your or validate a job well done is an exhausting and soul sucking adventure. If adventure is the right word there. We spend so much time at work that we would be losing a part of who we are to a job we cannot stand. It’s not worth it. Finding something meaningful (intertwined with intellectual and spiritual wellness here) is going to make your life so much better.
Environmental can be a couple of different things. This could be your actual physical location. Are you living in a safe place? Is your house clean or chaotic? But it can also be a lot bigger than that.
I think of this as how we are treating our planet, how we treat the people and beings and humans and over all ecosystems on our planet. Not everyone cares as much about this aspect of life, but it does impact us.
Are planet is changing. The people on our planet don’t all have the same basic rights. The animals on our planet are dying. Maybe right now this doesn’t affect everyone on a daily basis, but eventually it will.
But, this isn’t just what’s good for the planet, it’s also helping someone who had their house destroyed in a hurricane, giving back to those who helped us, trying to understand that not everything is black and white, but that some people have had less opportunity to thrive as we did. This is combating racism and domestic violence and all the other isms out there. It’s trying to make your community a better area. This is caring about something bigger than yourself.