In life, we have to look at the bigger picture. We often get blind-sided because we focus too much on what’s right in front of us, not seeing the bigger picture. When it comes to your mental wellness, looking at the bigger picture means taking a holistic approach to mental health. It’s not just about what you’re thinking or feeling, but physical, social, and spiritual health takes priority as well.
With mental health, putting together these small puzzle pieces into one big picture is taking care of your mind, body, and soul. All these three are correlated and should be prioritized for one goal: to become a whole person. Therapy, counseling, and medications are essential for mental health recovery, but it doesn’t end there. A healthy lifestyle, sound mind, and spiritual health are imperative as well.
The Mind, Body & Soul
The holistic approach to mental health needs the integration of the mind, body, and soul. Mental health is a complex process to understand. You can’t sit in one therapy session with a counselor and expect to have it all figured out. It takes many factors of the mind, body, and soul to explore a pathway to recovery.
A key indicator of a sound mind is calm, positive, and worry-free thoughts. A sound mind does not just happen overnight; and it’s an ongoing process. Today you may be happy, but tomorrow it may be different because something terrible happens. When you have a sound mind, everything falls into place. You have the motivation to stay fit, you’re in a good mood to socialize, or you can concentrate well at work.
The mind and body function in symbiosis, which means it always affects each other. Most mental health problems have risk factors relating to biological factors. For example, hormone imbalances can cause postpartum depression or chemical imbalances in the brain may lead to schizophrenia. Even substance abuse which leads to a euphoric state, can affect a person’s mental wellbeing.
A person not feeling confident about their body image may develop eating disorders or feel depressed. Not having that voluptuous body may affect their self-esteem, which may affect their mental health. Also, any physical abuse can significantly affect the mental health of any person. The body and mind will always go hand in hand.
Spirituality is a concept that is beyond a person’s religious and spiritual beliefs. It’s the sense of connection to something bigger; it’s having faith even during the darkest days; it’s all about finding your life’s purpose. It’s the search for your life’s purpose and your journey towards self-actualization. The holistic approach to spiritual wellness includes loving yourself even with your flaws. Spirituality is about finding emotional peace even with all the negative energy. These are crucial to have intact mental wellbeing.
How a Holistic Approach Aids Mental Health
Taking a more holistic approach to mental health is evidence-based to be effective in reducing stress. We all know that stress is one of the worst culprits that can affect our mental health. But by learning how to take control of distress with a holistic approach, you will reap the benefits of a calm and relaxed mindset and overall improved mental health.
When the holistic approach is combined with therapy, that is guaranteed for improved mental health wellbeing. This type of approach fosters the mind, body, and soul connection. How can a holistic approach aid in mental health?
Benefits of a holistic approach to mental wellness:
The holistic approach to mental health is a pathway to healing. If you prepare your mind, body, and soul for whatever difficult circumstance, you will heal faster and healthier than others. You can train your mind to stay away from negative thoughts that may cause you distress. Having holistic health is a better healing process to have a strong mind, body, and soul than just taking mental health drugs.
Avoid and detect mental health issues
If you have trained your mind, body, and soul to have holistic health, you can easily avoid and detect mental health issues. Are you feeling too tired for how many days for no apparent reason? Maybe you’re feeling blue. Do you have problems concentrating on schoolwork? Maybe something preoccupies you. Do you not feel like hanging out with your friends, unlike before?
If you have taken care of your holistic health, you would know there’s something wrong about you’re feeling. You are aware of your feelings and actions, and you can avoid and detect mental illness early.
The holistic approach to mental health can be beneficial to reducing stress. When you can handle stress on your own, you can handle any kind of stress with methods you can do at home.
For instance, you’re getting too stressed at work, what can you do to cope with this? You know going out for a ride on your bike makes you feel better.
Making it a lifestyle
When you practice a holistic approach to mental health, you do this as a part of your lifestyle. You know that exercising is good for your mental health; then you do it. You know that eating healthy foods can improve your mood. If you feel good with these holistic approaches, you make it your lifestyle. As a result, you will live a productive and happy life.
Holistic Activities and Their Advantages
Now that you know the benefits of a holistic approach to mental health, what do you do? What are the steps to take? Along with mental health treatment or therapy, there are other alternatives you can do to improve your mental health. The first step to holistic treatment is increasing your awareness of what steps to take. Then you can do the rest of these tips:
Exercise is a great way to avoid mental health conditions. Besides taking care of your physical health through exercise, you can also avoid mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and negative mood. Regular exercise can improve self-esteem, boost confidence, and improve sleeping patterns.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults should exercise regularly. The goal is to complete 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise in one week. That is equivalent to at least 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Examples of moderate-intensity activities are brisk walking, swimming, riding a bike, dancing, hiking, or even mowing the lawn.
Yoga is an excellent activity in taking care of your holistic health. Yoga is combined with physical activity, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness meditations, that aim for the mind, body, and soul wellness. Incorporating yoga poses, meditation, breathwork, and guided imagery, increases self-awareness, the mind-body connection, physical flexibility and even promotes mental healing.
There are many types of yoga techniques, and each has its different purpose. Hatha Yoga aims the physical and mental wellness. Karma Yoga aims to free oneself from negative emotions and thoughts. Jnana Yoga aims for intellectual wellness and wisdom, and so on.
Meditation is a popular holistic approach for emotional, spiritual, and mental health. Meditation is proven to lower stress levels, improve a person’s self-awareness, helps in better concentration, and fight mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and avoid substance abuse.
You can listen to guided meditations, sit down in a quiet corner at home, and not think about anything but focus on your breathing and positive affirmations.
When you stick to a healthy diet, you take care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. They say you are what you eat and drink, that is true. Have you ever experienced binge eating junk foods the whole day and suddenly so feel crappy? It happens.
But when you eat nutritious foods, you look good and feel good. Healthy foods can help improve your focus and be in a better mood. Eat foods that can enhance your mental health like nuts, yogurt, fruits, vegetables, pasta, whole-grain bread, and seeds.
Spending more time outdoors and with nature is proven to be beneficial for holistic health. Ecotherapy, which involves doing activities in nature, helps with alleviating the symptoms of depression.
Biking outdoors, for instance, is a good form of exercise. Breathing the fresh air and appreciating the views is like a mental reset for your mind. Study shows that 120 minutes of nature exposure per week is great for the holistic health.
Music therapy for holistic health uses music to express creativity, heal from traumas, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research shows that music is a medium to process trauma, emotions, and grief.
No wonder why the best songs are written out of a broken heart because the emotions are too strong. Even just listening to music and connecting to your inner emotions helps in the pathway of finding that holistic health.
Learn Holistic Approach With The Help Of A Therapist
If you want to start your path to find holistic health to mental health, you can benefit from talking to a therapist or counselor. Sometimes it’s hard to jumpstart this journey without the proper guidance. If your schedule is too busy to visit a therapist, there are online therapists you can talk to.
If you’re from Kentucky or Ohio and would want to talk to a mental health professional, Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) is here to help you. With just a few clicks away, you can schedule an online therapy session. KCC can help you jumpstart your journey in finding holistic health.