Feeling good on the inside can impact how you feel on the outside, and vice versa. Our minds and bodies are connected so it’s important that when we take care of one we also consider the other.
As life often gets in the way, it’s not uncommon for us to neglect our mental and physical health but we must make the time to protect our well-being. Perhaps taking a more holistic approach to well-being is the answer for those who lead busy lives and struggle with the pressure and stress of daily life to fit everything in.
What is holistic well-being?
Consider how you feel whenever you are run-down and under the weather. Does life seem a little bit more grey and dull than usual? Naturally, you will be feeling weaker and more tired, and not only is the illness making your body feel different, but it also affects your mood and mental status. Holistic well-being takes this into account, and more.
The main aspects of holistic well-being encompass physical, mental, intellectual, social, and spiritual well-being. Taking care of your physical well-being is important to help maintain flexibility and strength while reducing the risk of illness or disease.
Your mental well-being is concerned with your thoughts and emotions and how they can influence your psyche. To look after your intellectual wellbeing it’s important to maintain your sense of curiosity and a desire to learn new things.
Social well-being considers the connections we have with others and how we interact and form relationships with others. After all, humans are social beings and we must look after this element of our being. Finally, spiritual well-being is essential for helping us to maintain perspective and find a purpose in life.
How does holistic well-being help you feel better?
Holistic well-being allows us to move away from the traditional idea of health, which is primarily concerned with illness, disease, and being injury-free. Physical health is just one element of our well-being and the more research we do the better we become at recognising that wellness is more than just about our bodies.
For example, stress is an intangible that many people can’t see but we know that it can impact your physical health, either by causing or making health issues worse, such as tension headaches.
Holistic wellness focuses on your overall well-being, instead of honing in on one particular symptom. Rather than reacting to potential health problems, holistic well-being is concerned with helping to prevent illnesses by focusing on our mind, body, spirit, and social well-being at all times.
How to practise holistic well-being to boost physical and mental health
It’s important to note that you shouldn’t expect a quick fix to get to your optimal well-being level through a holistic approach. Rather, implementing changes in your life to achieve lasting happiness involves listening to your mind and body, which requires regular dedication to form a habit.
Finding ways, large or small, each day to engage in some form of holistic wellness can build up strong habits that will see you well on your way to a healthier outlook on life. Let’s look at some of the holistic methods that can help you to improve your overall well-being.
Yoga and Pilates
Strength building is important for your overall physical health, particularly for balance and to help keep you mobile. Yoga and Pilates are great activities to encourage gentle body movements and they can be done just about anywhere.
Whether you’ve only got 15 minutes or you’re heading to the park at sunrise, these activities promote meditative breathing, releasing positive chemicals like dopamine and serotonin while also helping to relieve depression, anxiety, and stress.
Regular meditation is ideal for boosting your concentration and focus levels, helping you to be more productive, stimulated, and engaged in your daily life. Not only can it help you to manage your anxiety, depression, and stress levels but meditation also helps reduce pain levels and lower the likelihood of catching colds or the flu. This is due to reducing the levels of stress in your body, which can make people more prone to catching illnesses.
Whether it be treating yourself to a luxury grooming experience, a massage or simply taking the time to read a book, have a cup of tea, or call a friend, self-care activities are essential for boosting your mental health.
Self-care helps us to avoid burnout and reduce our stress and anxiety levels while also living for the moment and appreciating the good things in our life. This introspective enjoyment allows us to feel better about ourselves, helping us to stay in tune with our perspective and purpose in life.
Being creative is a mindfulness activity that helps spark your intellect while also bringing peace and a sense of focus. From cooking to drawing, sewing, scrapbooking, or even being creative at work, these acts of creativity are similar to meditating and are known to reduce levels of anxiety, stress, and depression.
Embracing the outdoors
The great outdoors earns its nickname due to the restorative qualities it has on our minds, bodies, and souls. Being outside and at one with nature helps reduce feelings of anger and fear while boosting our pleasant feelings.
It’s also good for our physical health from breathing in cleaner air to engaging in physical activities like gardening or hiking that can improve your endurance, flexibility, and strength. In turn, these benefits help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Mental health benefits of exercise
Enjoying exercise and physical activity helps reduce negative feelings, anxiety, and depression while boosting your self-esteem and cognitive function. It can also tap into our social needs by reducing feelings of loneliness and social withdrawal. Engaging in regular physical activity helps push yourself to try new things and develop skills or reach accomplishment goals that further boost your mental well-being.
Physical health benefits of self-care
While physical exercise and activity can boost your mental health, the same is true when flipped. There are physical benefits to improving your mental health too, indicating that a holistic approach to your well-being is perfect for an overall boost to your health. Positive psychological well-being can reduce the risks of heart attacks and strokes, while on the other hand, poor mental health can lead to poor physical health or harmful behaviours.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.