A holistic approach to mental health focuses on encouraging an individual’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual wellness. A focus on these facets of health allows individuals to naturally reduce their stress levels and improve their long-term mental wellness.

This includes addressing each of the key aspects of wellness: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and financial. Here’s how to prioritize each of these facets of wellness to attain lasting mental wellness.

Physical Exercise

In addition to improving your overall body’s fitness, physical activity is an important part of your mental health and well-being. It can help you feel more energetic throughout the day, improve your sleep at night, and boost your mood.

Studies have shown that physical activity can decrease the risk of several non-communicable diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and several cancers. It can also reduce high blood pressure, lower stress levels, and maintain a healthy weight.

While the benefits of exercise are numerous, people often struggle to stay motivated and stick with a regular exercise routine. To combat this, experts at Modern Medicine recommend finding an exercise you enjoy and doing it regularly. Whether it’s gardening, playing basketball, or simply taking a jog around the neighborhood, the key is to find something that works for you.

A holistic approach to wellness focuses on a person’s health as a whole and seeks to understand the root causes of disease rather than treating only symptoms. To exemplify this, the Health Promotion Studies major at WCSU teaches students to incorporate mind-body practices like yoga, therapeutic touch, massage therapy, meditation, chanting, and prayer into their daily lives.

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Nutrition

More and more research is showing that a healthy body is the foundation of good mental health. Taking care of the basics means eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.

A nutrient-dense, whole-food diet is essential for mental well-being. Holistic nutrition practitioners focus on consuming a variety of organic and locally grown food to promote the best possible physical and emotional health.

Eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats can help to reduce the risk of metabolic disorders, which can affect mood. In addition, a plant-based diet can provide the same nutrients as animal products without the high levels of saturated fats and cancer-promoting chemicals.

In addition, consuming ethically sourced, sustainable, and organic food supports the health of the environment as well as local communities. Incorporating these principles into daily life can make a significant difference in one’s overall health and well-being.

Stress Management

Stress can take many forms, from the body’s fight-or-flight response to more chronic concerns like poor sleep and a lack of energy. Over time, these effects can have serious health consequences, from headaches and migraines to high blood pressure and heart disease.

The good news is that you can learn to manage stress with a holistic approach. This can include exercise, sleep nutrition, and prioritizing social connections. It also includes learning to use healthy coping methods, such as rehearsing and practicing situations that trigger anxiety (like a public speaking class) or learning practical techniques like meditation or mindfulness.

Another important aspect of holistic stress management is eliminating or reducing as many sources of stress as possible. This can be accomplished through methods that combine physical and emotional components, such as tai chi and yoga, or by counseling. Finally, focusing on what is in your control and letting go of what isn’t can be helpful, too. For instance, if your job causes you stress, try to work with your boss or seek professional help.

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Social Connections

When it comes to health, the mind and body are connected in ways that affect each other. Taking this into account is one of the key elements of holistic healthcare and well-being. Holistic care is a way to treat medical conditions that includes lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, stress management, and emotional and spiritual well-being. It may include Eastern practices such as acupuncture and herbal remedies.

Research shows that social connections play a crucial role in both mental and physical health and well-being. Social support and positive interactions increase our sense of belonging and help us cope with adversity. This, in turn, helps to strengthen our immune system and protect us against illness.

In addition, social ties influence our health behaviors, which explains 40 percent of the variation in morbidity and mortality. This is in part because they directly affect health and also because they interact with and mediate a variety of mechanisms that impact both health behaviors and health outcomes (Umberson and Crosnoe 2010). Sociodemographic patterns in both the size and diversity of social ties are related to this pattern.

Spirituality

According to research, spirituality can be defined as “the way people seek ultimate meaning and connection through beliefs, values, and traditions.” This may include organized religion but also includes ways of seeking transcendence or connecting with nature and life essence.

It’s no surprise that spiritual health is a critical factor in physical health and well-being. Studies have shown that people who are more spiritual are less likely to experience depression and have higher rates of happiness. Spirituality also helps protect against suicidality. It encourages people to reflect on their values before making impulsive decisions or succumbing to their desires.

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People living with chronic physical conditions, such as HIV, are at risk of having co-existing mental health disorders. Studies have found that interventions that incorporate a spiritual component improve the quality of life for those living with HIV. These findings suggest that a holistic approach to treatment is important for patients dealing with serious diseases and may help reduce the risk of suicide, substance use, and depression. This is particularly important because these co-existing conditions have a significant impact on quality of life and can increase the cost of care.