Modern western medicine focuses almost exclusively on treating diseases as they arise, rather than focusing on the ongoing health of the whole person. As you get on in life and want to look forward to a great retirement and fantastic golden years (check out some retirement villages here that will fill you with joy!) it is a good idea to make sure that you look after your health, and to look away from the traditional way of wester medicine to give you optimum healthy options.
That isn’t a bad approach, as far as it goes, but it’s far from perfect. A more holistic approach to health focuses on discovering deeper causes of illnesses, rather than simply treating symptoms, and on encouraging health in body, mind, and spirit.
For example, high blood pressure can be treated with medicine to thin the blood and that works fine. But perhaps the real cause of the high blood pressure is stress caused by unpleasant living conditions or poor mental health – wouldn’t it be better to change those root causes? Otherwise, the stress will continue to manifest in other illnesses.
A holistic approach to health encourages you to look at the bigger picture, investigate how everything fits together, and treat the real causes of illness, not just the symptoms.
Avoid snowballing health problems as you age
Understanding how all the different parts and systems of your body are interconnected is very important, and it’s essential to holistic health. If you’re limping around on an injured ankle for days, you’ll probably find your other foot starts to hurt from carrying the extra weight. If you let one problem go intended it will soon create other problems!
Good health depends on networks. Both within and without the body, interconnected systems affect each other. Someone with arthritis may have a flare-up due to stress at work. That flare-up may cause them to miss work and feel like a burden, leading to depression and anxiety. Those mental health issues may then lead to compulsive eating and weight gain which, in turn, will put more pressure on their joints and worsen their arthritis.
That’s what we call snowballing health problems. When you recognise how your whole body and lifestyle are interconnected, it’s easy to understand why a holistic approach to health is so important.
Here are 5 ways to take care of your health holistically:
1. Start meditating daily
Research has shown a strong connection between the health of our minds and the health of our bodies.
In a study of breast cancer survivors, researchers found that meditating and participating in support groups had deeply positive effects. Women who maintained community and fostered mindfulness through meditation showed positive effects at a cellular level.
Meditation and community don’t just make you feel better, they can help you heal physically!
2. Get your mind on-side
The way we think impacts the way we feel – and that means it can impact our health, both mental and physical.
By creating a more positive mind, you’ll create a healthier you. Of course, you can’t simply think yourself pain-free or think your way out of an illness. But positive thinking and a healthy mind can help you maintain good general health. That means less illness, more resilience, and faster recovery if you do get sick.
As well as meditation, there are many practices you can use to get your mind healthy:
- Practice deep breathing
- Take time to draw or even just colour in
- Take up yoga
- Talk to a trusted friend or family member regularly
- Watch a funny movie – laughter genuinely is good for you
- Keep a daily gratitude journal
- Start your day with positive affirmations
3. Detoxify your skincare routine
Long-term health is about changing daily habits, even seemingly innocuous ones like your skincare routine.
You might not realise skincare products could affect your health but it is very important. Your skin is your largest organ and it is highly absorbent. If you’re slathering your skin with harmful chemicals several times a day, every day for years, that has a negative effect on your long-term health.
On the other hand, if you’re applying all-natural, healthful skincare products to your skin each and every day, the benefits for your health will increase over time.
Have a look at the products in your bathroom cabinet. Do they contain ingredients like sodium laurel sulphate (SLS), parabens, alcohol, formaldehyde, propylene glycol, or artificial fragrances? If so, they are harming you in the long-run.
Replace those nasty chemical skincare products with all-natural alternatives. Some of the potent natural ingredients you should look for are:
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Berry extracts
- Grape seed oil
- Apple cider vinegar
4. Look beyond the gym
Exercise is very important to your overall health and plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight and to slim down. But what you’re eating is just as important to your health and weight – in fact, for weight loss, it’s more important.
There’s a lot of conflicting information out there about how to eat well – some of it is well-meaning but often it’s inaccurate or misleading. And that’s not to mention diet pills, weight loss products, and ‘miracle’ diets that seek to exploit our anxieties about health and weight!
The fact is, your ideal diet will be quite unique to you, your health needs and goals, and even your genetic profile.
So, while you should definitely hit the gym, it’s important to also work with a nutritionist who can help you fuel your body in the right way. Some gyms have nutritionists and trainers on staff – this is ideal so do some research and find a place like this for a holistic workout!
5. Find holistic healthcare professionals
The point here isn’t to abandon western medicine but to augment it. You should continue to get regular checkups and go to the doctor when you’re ill. But it’s important to find a doctor who understands the importance of holistic healthcare and will support you in pursuing a healthy lifestyle as well as diagnosing illnesses.
That might mean finding a GP who is open to complementary medicine or who has also trained in osteopathy. Or it may be better to see a physiotherapist, nutritionist, and psychologist in addition to your standard medical check-ups. Whatever approach you choose, the important thing is to make sure you’re taking care of whole-person health.
Remember, holistic health is about treating causes as well as symptoms and taking care of the mind and body long-term, not just when things go wrong.
Ask your doctor if they’re happy to combine physiotherapy or osteopathy with other treatments. Discuss the link between mental and physical health and make sure you’re on the same page. If you find that your doctor is dismissive of these ideas, keep looking.