Date of the last update: 04.05.2023
Table of contents:
- What is a holistic approach?
- Treating Mental Health Issues Using a Holistic Approach
- How can you apply a holistic approach to your own mental health?
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What is a holistic approach?
In the treatment of mental health, a holistic approach refers to going beyond the treatment of a symptom through medication, and considers the person’s life as a whole, beyond their immediate mental health concerns, to find a more lasting solution by altering lifestyle choices. A holistic practitioner would consider a patient’s physical health, daily lifestyle, habits, work life, family life, and any other elements of the patient’s life that could act as an unidentified cause of their symptoms, or perhaps offer a surprising starting point towards healing their challenges on a deeper level.
Holistic approaches are based on the understanding that our minds and bodies are closely connected, and that we cannot heal one aspect of our health without bringing our whole mental-physical-emotional well-being into the process. The objective of holistic healing processes is to go beyond ‘covering up’ symptoms or finding surface-level solutions for the patient’s concerns, and finding the root cause of their problem through an in-depth analysis of their lifestyle, thus making the healing more long-lasting, through transformative structural changes.
Recovery processes and treatment options will vary depending on structural elements of a person’s life, such as their work, family, relationships, household, etc., as well as their age, gender, heritage, life experiences, and plenty more. Given that no two people are the same, holistic health practitioners approach each patient differently, to consider their wider needs beyond the mental health symptoms being treated. People’s minds, bodies and lifestyles are so diverse there is no one solution that’ll work for everyone, and each person needs a healing process tailored to them, based on an understanding of all aspects of their life.
Treating Mental Health Issues Using a Holistic Approach
To offer a common example: In many cases, depression is addressed by offering a variety of antidepressant drugs to the patient – many of which have negative side effects – in the hope that one of them will relieve them of their suffering. However, although holistic practitioners are not necessarily against the incorporation of pharmaceutical treatments, they would also ask the patient to consider whether their dietary habits are most suited to their lifestyle, whether they do regular exercise, whether they spend enough time with their loved ones, whether they have a good self care routine for self-regulation, and perhaps, whether they’ve tried the effects of spending time in nature. Plenty of patients have found their conditions significantly improving – and sometimes disappearing altogether – when they move beyond mental analysis and become physically strong, develop an appropriate work-life balance, and find a sense of balance in their daily activities.
Holistic approaches prioritise activities such as talking therapy to identify the root of one’s problems, and connecting to oneself through activities such as mindfulness, creativity, regular exercise, optimal diet, cognitive behavioural therapy, and plenty more. Through these activities, the objective is for patients to find a balanced lifestyle based on their unique backgrounds, as finding this balance may be fundamental in solving their mental health challenges, from the bottom up. In combining the well-being of body, mind and self, many people see holistic approaches as a combination of modern Western medicine and ancient Eastern well-being traditions.
How can you apply a holistic approach to your own mental health?
Whether or not you have a specific mental health challenge in mind, and whether or not you see a therapist, we can all benefit from seeing every element of our health from a holistic perspective.
How can one expect to exercise well if their diet is not taken seriously?
How can one expect to connect to their loved ones if they’re constantly thinking about work?
We could all benefit from some self analysis!
Activities to connect your mind and body for holistic well-being:
- Exercise: Whether it’s a run to release endorphins or yoga to calm your mind, exercise is a great way to connect your mind and body.
- Diet: We often overlook the importance of our eating habits, and sometimes, adapting our diet to get all the nutrients we need can solve long-standing mental and physical health difficulties. Consciously preparing our food is another way to care for ourselves, creating a stronger sense of self love and care.
- Hobbies: With busy work and home lives, many people use their limited free time to take a rest and watch TV. However, becoming skilled at something like painting, music, ceramics, dance, or a particular sport – amongst plenty others – can increase a person’s self esteem and broaden their minds, significantly benefiting their mental health.
- Self care: However busy your schedule, schedule time out to be alone with yourself, and calm your nervous system, bringing your body into parasympathetic mode. Whether it’s a quiet walk in the woods, or sitting in candlelight with calm music, this is a great way to quieten the mind and, as a result, your body.
Check out also: Thriving in your own Green Oasis
- Main Line Health (2021). ‘What is a holistic approach to mental health?’. Main Line Health: Well Ahead Blog.
- NSW Health (2020). ‘What is a holistic approach?’. NSW Health.