Okay, so I know that you didn’t come here for some kumbaya singing around the fire (which is at least what I think when I hear the word “holistic”) but I will warn you that some of this sounded crazy to me when I first started reading about it. I’ll give you the low-down on holistic healing and how I really feel about it as an average non-evangelist.
When I first started reading into holistic living, it really just seemed to me that it meant going to yoga, drinking smoothies, using essential oils, and owning a bunch of succulents. Now, I realize that yes, those are definitely things that can be useful to your well-being, but that isn’t the core focus of living a holistic lifestyle.
My deep dive into holistic health and wellness really began with my personal struggle with adult acne. It felt like an endless cycle of applying different products, with no real long-term improvement.
I started reading Ayurvedic blogs and they were essentially saying that your face and acne are a reflection of what’s happening inside of your body. Mind. Blown.
Holistic Living (n.): A lifestyle that focuses on nourishing our bodies and souls inside and out. This includes caring for the body and environment as a system of interconnected parts that affect each other.
You’re probably thinking “this is obvious” and you’re right, but we’re taught as a society to not approach health holistically from the start. There’s often many other remedies, harsh chemicals, and methods that are tried before going natural.
Now, I’m more of a holistic realist – not every solution is going to be a natural remedy. I mean, there are a lot of myths around some holistic remedies, but in my opinion, there’s no harm in at least trying them if it means whatever problem or difficulty your having could be solved long-term without chemicals or quick-fixes.
Have you ever gone to the doctor for a problem and they immediately sent you home with a prescription, just to have whatever problem come back in the near future?
A lot of the time, doctors are prescribing things that will help you in the immediate future or with symptoms, but they won’t exactly fix the root cause of your problem. Holistic health requires that you find the source of the problem and work to heal yourself from the inside out.
In an ideal world, this means that your problem shouldn’t return.
**There’s definitely a time and place for big-pharma with more serious symptoms/diseases- the point I’m making here is that prescriptions or chemicals are not always the answer.**
How do I approach a Holistic Lifestyle?
Your body is a temple – you should respect it like one.
Bodies are weird. There are hidden powers that your body has to heal itself that our brains couldn’t even begin to understand (without meditation, I think). They also like certain things and despise others – that’s why there is no one-size-fits-all diet or approach other than a ‘healthy’ one that your body agrees with.
A holistic lifestyle involves approaching your well-being from both a physical and mental aspect in a way that addresses the way those things work together.
This means only providing yourself with things that benefit your overall well-being. If you are constantly eating processed foods, hanging out with toxic friends, bottling up your feelings, and skipping your workout, you are disrespecting no one but yourself. Approaching your life as a ‘whole’ will not only make you generally feel better, but your long-term life path might change for the better due to focusing on only letting beneficial things into your life.
In my mind, a ‘healthy’ diet really just means a well-rounded one.
People can be vegan, plant-based, vegetarian, pescatarian, carnivore, or whatever they like. However, if they’re not painting a full nutritional picture and using their diet to fill in whatever nutrient gaps their body can’t fill itself, they will likely have health problems regardless of how “clean” their diet is.
I had been led to believe that if I eat lean meats and vegetables that would make me healthy, right? So, I can just eat broccoli and chicken for every meal then. Cool!
The issue with this is that although I’m eating cleanly and I’m not filling myself with processed foods, I’m not painting that full nutritional picture like I was talking about earlier. Eating like this is going to leave my body begging for nutrients found in many other foods.
Cook Your Meals
By cooking at home, you know exactly what goes into every meal that you make.
You can also add whatever nutrient-dense food that you like or need into your meals to make sure they’re always jam-packed with nutrients.
I know, restaurant food always tastes better and cooking at home is a lot of work, but do you actually know what goes into the meals that they make at most restaurants?
As a previous server, I have seen how they cook meals at a couple different upscale and chain restaurants. The main ingredient in restaurant food is butter – and that is why everything tastes so good. I have also seen chain restaurants cooking your ‘healthy’ vegetable sides by taking a plastic bag with some water and veggies in it and throwing it in the microwave for a minute. Don’t take my word for it, take a look at this recent news article about Panera cooking their mac & cheese this way – and they’re not the only one doing this.
This does not mean you can’t go out to eat every once in a while, but that is the key – every once in a while. You should be aiming cook 5 or more days at home.
Add in some superfoods as you cook to boost your meal’s nutrients and benefits. Some easy superfoods to include are salmon, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, berries, whole grains, or legumes/beans. (I’ll write a whole other blog about superfoods later)
They key to living a holistic lifestyle is trying to heal yourself from the inside out with natural remedies. Our bodies are amazing at healing themselves in the right conditions, which means we have to seek out the best way to provide the “right conditions.”
When you get a cold or flu, are you the type of person who goes straight to the doctor for an antibiotic? Doing this doesn’t only kill the cold that you had, but all of the good bacteria in your body as well. There are definitely times when an antibiotic is a must-have, but a general cold is not one of them. In fact, taking antibiotics frequently actually makes your body and the bad bacteria immune to them, so when you really need them to work, they wont.
Instead, reach for ginger, garlic, vitamin C, or zinc – all of which strengthen your immune system and help your T-cells fight illness – before your doctor visit. Use things like tea tree oil on cuts and scrapes to protect from bacteria, carrots or lavender oil on insect bites to reduce inflammation and soothe itching, honey on pimples to stop the growth of bacteria, etc. etc. – you get the point. A natural solution to your problem is a quick google away!
Living holistically involves a whole-body mindset – that includes your mind.
Gaining weight, constant sickness, or perpetual tiredness can all be signs of a lacking self-care habit! Self-care has gotten a bad name recently as everyone thinks “treat yo self” means buying more clothes at the store or the next new iPhone, but what I really mean here is taking the time for yourself to do things that positively stimulate your mind and body. You can do this through working out, doing yoga, meditating, reading a book, or literally anything that you enjoy and relaxes you.
Stress will be the major contributor to many of your life’s problems like acne, weight gain/loss, heart problems, and just a generally bad mood. Taking the steps to reduce the amount of stress in your life is the biggest favor you can do for yourself.
Everyone’s definition of managing stress is different – for some it’s reading a book, for others it’s meditating. Whatever it is, carve out time every day for something that helps you manage your stress so that it doesn’t build up over time. This can be a 15-minute walk around the block – it doesn’t have to be long, just a time set aside for YOU.
Working out helps manage stress while having benefits for both physical and mental health. It helps lose weight, get stronger, eliminate toxins, strengthen your heart, and aid in digestion while also releasing hormones that have a positive effect on your mood. It is the easiest (and cheapest) way to make yourself feel better when you’re not feeling great.
Make small, but meaningful changes to your everyday routine.
The journey to holistic living is different for everyone and if building a habit of being ‘healthy’ includes starting with just adding more vegetables to your diet, then you’re still well on your way to living a more holistic life.
The importance behind living holistically lies in empowering yourself to use the tools that you intrinsically have and that the earth provides to heal yourself and live as naturally as possible. The steps you take toward this style of living shouldn’t disrupt your life, but they have the ability to change it. For that reason alone, it’s worth a shot to me.