If being in charge of your own wellbeing sounds good, then a holistic lifestyle is for you!
Choosing a holistic lifestyle is about making healthy choices for our body, mind and soul as a whole. Following holistic medicine’s philosophy of balance, we empower ourselves to live a happier, more intentional life.
You don’t have to be sick or unwell to choose a holistic life. If you’ve been feeling disconnected, out of sync, or simply want to feel good the below tips are a great place to start.
What is a holistic lifestyle?
At its core, the idea of a holistic lifestyle is derived from holistic medicine, or the concept that our health is the sum of our body, mind, spirit and emotions.
Living holistically means that we look at all areas of our life as one instead of compartmentalizing different facets of who we are. Moreover, with this lifestyle, we are at the center of our own wellness and take responsibility for our happiness.
There’s no recipe for a holistic lifestyle. It’s a very personal approach to welfare and creating balance. With this philosophy we aren’t stuck in a routine. This way of living is all about adapting to our needs and where we are on our journey.
There are four important principles to holistic medicine that can be applied to a holistic lifestyle:
- You are in charge of your own wellbeing;
- Being healthy is a bigger concept than not being ill;
- Prevention comes first, treatment second;
- Balance is achieved through 5 dimensions of our being:
Benefits of a holistic lifestyle
We typically start thinking about holistic living when something isn’t right. From a sense of disconnect, to health issues, we become conscious that we need to change something in our ways.
At its core, a holistic life involves self-awareness, mindfulness and healthy choices. Therefore, this way of living can have a multitude of positive benefits, including:
- Improved general health.
- A feeling of empowerment and control.
- Healthy sustainable habits.
- Continued learning and personal growth.
- A more positive outlook on life.
- Less stress and tension.
How do you start a holistic lifestyle?
Living holistically requires us to be aware and intentional in all aspects of our life. We need to understand what we want to achieve and decide how we want to get there.
The best way to start is to take a deep look at our life through the five dimensions of holistic medicine: physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive.
Explore how you feel and how you see your life at present. What are some potential pain points and positive aspects within the five dimensions? Then think about what it would mean for you to be balanced in these five dimensions. What’s your ideal version of your physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive wellbeing?
Finally, what are practical and achievable ways you can get closer to your ideal state of being? This is about simple habits, activities and lifestyle changes that you can maintain. This should feel natural and positive. If you want to make these part of your routine, you have to enjoy them and find it easy to add to your schedule.
This whole thought process can be done with a pen and paper. It’s also a good idea to discuss with a friend, coach or therapist. By talking them through it, you can gain more clarity by articulating your thinking to another person.
Setting your path
After self-introspection it is time for taking action! Whether you have decided to meditate, start a yoga class, or replace junk food with nutritious food, it becomes real once you do it.
That’s why the changes and improvements you want to make to your life need to be doable. Adding three hours of self-care to your day might not be realistic, but a 20 minute meditation before bed certainly is.
Creating new habits
When you choose a holistic way of living, starting with better habits is key. Just keep in mind to always be kind with yourself. You might need some time to reach certain goals and that’s ok.
This is the opposite of dieting or privation. Your new routine isn’t about negatives where you forbid yourself to do certain things, or force yourself into doing others.
The changes you make need to be positive, to nourish you and make you smile. With healthy habits that you enjoy and are looking forward to, it will become second nature to live a holistic lifestyle.
5 habits for a holistic lifestyle
Using the five dimensions of holistic medicine, let’s explore five habits for a holistic way of life.
Related: What is holistic medicine? Find out more about the 5 dimensions of holistic medicine.
Physical: make movement a priority.
We lead sedentary lives and it’s worse when we work from home or in an office. If you don’t already have an exercise routine that you enjoy, now’s the time to figure out what will get you moving while smiling!
Whether it’s tai chi, hiking or running, choose different ways to move your body that complement each other. Only doing one type of exercise or repetitive training can lead to injury or imbalance.
Listen to your body and stay curious. You can change your fitness routine with the seasons, try new classes or create variety in a sport you already love.
On the medical side, think about consulting an osteopathic doctor rather than an MD, for a holistic approach to your health.
Emotional: release negative tensions
There’s an undeniable connection between our emotional state and our body. In fact, it’s common for emotional stress to take a toll on our health.Leschak CJ, Eisenberger NI. Two Distinct Immune Pathways Linking Social Relationships With Health: Inflammatory and Antiviral Processes. Psychosom Med. 2019;81(8):711-719. … Continue reading
How to avoid that? Learn to identify your negative emotions and to express them in a conductive way. This is very intentional. It requires that you make the space for your emotions to be recognized and externalized.
Releasing negative tensions and thoughts can take different forms. From journaling to going for therapy or counseling, find what works for you. It can be a combination of things too depending on what you are dealing with and how you feel.
Social: surround yourself with people you love
We need a social circle, but we need to be selective who we spend our time with. Whether it’s people we work with, friends or family, we can feel nourished by those around us or depleted of our energy.
What we mean by that is that these relationships need to be inspiring and comforting, not stressful and anxiety inducing.
How to tell the difference? Follow your gut. This is one area where your instinct can be incredibly accurate. Do you look forward to spending time with that person or do you dread it? So don’t feel guilty if you cut off or reduce some relationships to the bare minimum.
Afterall, it’s when we feel happy that we can give our utmost to the people we love. So set aside feelings of obligation and guilt. If you feel good with your family, then you can give it your best self and that’s all that matters.
A note about family:
We don’t choose our family, but we don’t have to suffer from it. If some relatives are toxic, we need to draw the line of what behavior we tolerate. We can set boundaries and say “no”.
Bottom line, be selfish with your time and spend it with those you love!
Spiritual: nourish your soul
Following holistic medicine’s philosophy, being spiritual is about feeling connected to the universe within and outside ourselves.
Independent from our religious beliefs, spirituality is about nature’s life force. That’s why spending time in nature, whether a forest or even a desert, can feel so uplifting.
When we pause to admire and feel nature, we are able to recenter on our being and how we are part of something much greater. It leaves us energized with a sense of calm.
Look at the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or Forest Bathing, which highlights the physiological and psychological benefits of spending time in nature. It’s also because of it’s spiritual component that it has such an impact.
Forest Bathing? Don’t worry, you don’t need to become a hippie; yet there’s research supporting the valuable health benefits of spending time surrounded by nature.Hansen MM, Jones R, Tocchini K. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(8):851. Published 2017 Jul 28. … Continue reading
All you need to do is walk around in a forest, park or green environment, in a mindful manner. Take your time, look at nature as a whole, then observe its smallest details, enjoy how it smells and feels to the touch. Be fully present and intentional with your nature walk, that’s Forest Bathing.
Cognitive: keep learning
If you don’t use it, you might lose it, so keep your brain active!
When it comes to holistic medicine, cognitive balance is about being aligned between what we think and what we do. It’s related to the thinking space of the mind: our focus, memory and decision making process.
One of the best ways to nurture this dimension is via self-development and learning. Whether we choose to deepen our knowledge or explore a completely different topic, it enables us to use our brain and create new neural connections.
Personal development doesn’t have to be academic-like with books and formal courses. It can also involve technical knowledge and skills, such as woodworking, or coordination and movement, like dancing.
So whether you are picking up a new language, learning about natural remedies or gardening, keep your brain curious and eager.
- A holistic lifestyle is about making healthy choices for your body, mind & soul as a whole;
- It espouses holistic medicine’s balance philosophy around 5 dimensions of physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive.
- Living in a holistic way means that we are intentional, self-aware and empowered with all aspects of our journey in life.
- There’s many ways of living a holistic life and it can change and adapt according to what we need.
- Holistic living habit must be realistic, doable and enjoyable to be maintained over time.
|1||Leschak CJ, Eisenberger NI. Two Distinct Immune Pathways Linking Social Relationships With Health: Inflammatory and Antiviral Processes. Psychosom Med. 2019;81(8):711-719. doi:10.1097/PSY.0000000000000685|
|2||Hansen MM, Jones R, Tocchini K. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(8):851. Published 2017 Jul 28. doi:10.3390/ijerph14080851|
*Be mindful about your health. This article is provided for informational purposes only, and does not intend to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.