What are the Pillars of Wellness and Holism?
The word holism denotes interconnectivity. A holistic lifestyle means understanding the importance of various factors in health, and how they are interconnected. It means that for a healthy lifestyle, one needs to take multiple steps.
Holism vs Conventional Medicine
Holistic health or a holistic lifestyle is often neglected in conventional medicine, which focuses on signs and symptoms and treating disease conditions. However, a holistic lifestyle forms the basis of most traditional forms of medicine.
To understand holistic health, take the example of diabetes. If you change your lifestyle to manage diabetes through exercise, stress management, dietary corrections, you are also reducing the risk of numerous other conditions like heart disease, cancer, respiratory conditions, neurodegenerative disorders.
Similarly, a holistic lifestyle means that for staying healthy, doing one single thing like exercise or making changes to the diet will not provide optimal health. One needs to understand the importance of various parameters in wellbeing, like socializing, stress management, and much more.
Regretfully, even medical practitioners do not understand the difference between “health” and “wellness.” The final aim of any lifestyle intervention or medical treatment is wellbeing. A person may be healthy and still not feel well (may feel depressed, or anxious), whereas, a person may live with untreatable disease or disability and may still feel well with the right kind of lifestyle interventions.
Pillars of Holism and Wellness
1. Physical Wellness
Regular physical activity is one of the essential pillars of good health. However, one should not confuse physical activity with exercise. There is no doubt that exercise is good but staying active most of the time is equally necessary.
Epidemiological data shows a sharp rise in the number of disease conditions in the last 50 to 100 years that were classified as rare diseases just a little more than a century back like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many more. It is now well known that reduced physical activity is one of the major contributing factors to the rise of these disease conditions. It is well accepted that 30-60 minutes of exercise a day can help in most cases.
However, exercise will not help much if a person spends too much time sitting in one place. It means that lots of physical movement during the day is equally important. Sitting continually for more than an hour may harm health.
Another essential thing in physical health is adequate sleep. There is no doubt that people are sleeping much less then they used to. An adult should have 7 to nine hours of sound sleep. But most adults barely sleep for 6 hours.
It is estimated that about 80% or more adults are living with social jetlag. It means that due to the busy lifestyle, they are not sleeping enough on working days, not seeing enough of sunlight. So, most such individuals try to recover at weekends by sleeping for longer hours. However, in the long run, it may ruin physical health.
2. Nutritional Wellness
Nutrition has a direct effect on physical health. Due to the changed lifestyle, nutritional needs have changed. It means that continuing with traditional diets or adapting the industrial diet is equally bad for health.
Traditional diets were rich in saturated fats, animal products, high in calories, as in olden times, people needed lots of energy to do strenuous physical tasks during the day. However, in modern times, the need for calories is much less.
Another bad thing is the adaptation of processed foods. Supermarkets are filled with such harmful food items, and people consume them as they do not want to cook. Thus, they go for sweets, chocolates, energy bars, sausages, and so on.
USDA recommends adults to fill half their plate with fruits and vegetables. And rest of the plate with whole grains, lean proteins like fish, chicken, dairy products. Another vital thing to do is to diversify the diet by including various products items on the menu, like nuts, legumes, seafood, berries, and so on.
Supplementation may help compensate for the deficiency of certain nutrients; however, they help best when combined with a healthy diet.
3. Emotional Wellness
It means the ability to keep your feeling in check. It means not letting emotional troubles become severe, sharing your thoughts with others. Humans are emotional beings, so it is not rare for emotions to get out of control.
If a person is finding it difficult to manage emotions and feels that it is affecting life, it is a good idea to seek help from a professional.
4. Social Wellness
Is all about connecting with other people. There is enough research to show that social isolation is one of the reasons for the increased prevalence of some disease conditions like depression, metabolic disorders, obesity, diabetes, dementia, and much more.
It merely means that the number of good friends could be a measure of social wellness and even general wellbeing. Socializing helps reduce stress caused by small issues.
Maintaining a network of friends takes time. However, people should make it a habit to spend a specified amount of time each week in the company of good friends, family members. One of the right ways to socialize could be volunteering.
5. Spiritual Wellness
Is difficult to define, as it has a different meaning for everyone. For some, it could mean practicing religion, while for others, it can mean holding high moral values. Spirituality is about finding the purpose of life, knowing oneself. It can be practiced even by spending some time with oneself, spending time meditating, or on self-reflection. Spirituality helps build emotional resilience. A person practicing spirituality is more resistant to mood and emotional disorders or behavioral disorders.
6. Intellectual Wellness
Is about keeping your mind engaged continually. Not only is an idle mind the “devil’s workshop”, but the idle mind is also at higher risk of suffering from various diseases. On the other hand, participating in various mental activities not only prevents psychological and neurological issues but may also help avoid physical diseases.
It means that for a healthy life read more frequently, play brain games, engage in other intellectually challenging activities or hobbies. Continued education in adults may also help.
7. Financial Wellness
Let’s accept the fact that how does one feels has lots to do with economic status. Lack of financial means is one of the biggest reasons for mental stress. Further, it is no secret that most non-communicable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, psychological problems, are more common in people from lower socioeconomic status.
One can take care of financial wellness, by better budgeting, learning financial planning, saving money, avoiding overspending.
8. Environmental Wellness
Concerns keeping things around well arranged, clean. It is both about personal surroundings and the society in which a person lives. Thus, it means both paying attention to the living space, and to the community.
A holistic lifestyle is a way of healthy living; it is a philosophy, a way to a happy life. A holistic lifestyle not just focuses on health, but on complete wellness.
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