What does it mean to be whole-ly or holistically healthy?
When you think about being ‘healthy’, do grueling images of a yelling Peloton coach pop into your mind? How about endless bundles of kale and gallons of green juice? An even better question is, do your ideas of attaining health only include things that affect you physically?
If they do, then you could be neglecting some major aspects of your overall well-being. For so long, the perception of health and what it means to be healthy has been associated with being fit and limited to a person’s physical state of being– how someone’s body looks, their weight, their diet, how many packs they carry on their abs, etc. But when we only prioritize our physical health, we limit our full potential.
Think about it like this: typically, when a car has gas, it runs, right? The gas is one of the essentials needed for the car to do what it was created for. But when a car has a full tank, and has had its oil changed, has been tuned up, has new brakes, has had the antifreeze replaced, and even had a good wash, it’s no longer just a vehicle that gets you from point A to point B. It becomes a luxury and a comfort that we can truly enjoy and indulge in.
Upholding our health can work in the same capacity. Sometimes, we have a tendency to be that ‘car owner’ who refills the gas regularly, but never does maintenance on any other aspect of the car. Often, we focus on one part of our health–most likely our physical health–and put the other aspects of our full well-being on the back-burner, leaving us to experience our potential at a limited capacity.
So how do we get whole-ly healthy? We have to invest our energy and time into maintaining each aspect of our health. In case you’re wondering what they are, the aspects of holistic health include:
It might seem like I was downplaying physical health a little while ago, but it’s too important to make light of! There’s a reason that it gets as much attention as it does. The physical body gives us the most obvious signs of how well we are taking care of ourselves(or not). Physical signs and symptoms are also easier to track and measure, in comparison to non-physical indicators that can be harder to identify.
Physical health cannot be measured by how closely your body resembles your favorite Instagram fitness model’s body, or even by a goal weight. In partnership with a healthcare professional, you should determine what your personal pinnacle of physical health looks like and create a health routine that fits your lifestyle.
I know. Being ‘emotionally healthy’ may be a weird concept to grasp. But taking note of our emotions, how we think and feel, how we react, respond and cope with certain life events are all a part of our emotional health. Believe it or not, the way that we acknowledge and process other people’s emotions shed light on our emotional health too.
Can you identify and articulate your emotions? Do you know what the source of these feelings are? How much control do you have over your thoughts and feelings? Is there anything that makes you feel like you are no longer in control of these emotions?
Asking yourself these questions can help you take account of your emotional health.
Ever heard of the idea that humans can’t grow or thrive in isolation? This concept refers to our social health. While having designated time to spend with ourselves, enjoy our own company, and replenish our capacity to deal with people is crucial to developing self-love and ultimately to interacting with others in a healthy way, we’re not meant to exist in isolation. The connections we make with family, friends, community, and even strangers can bring a deep sense of connectedness, make us feel supported, and ultimately make us healthier and happier.
Before we get into the connection between spirituality and health, we need to make the important distinction between religion and spirituality. While religion is a specific set of beliefs and practises shared by a group of people or community, spirituality is more personal, individualized, and focuses on an inner sense of peace and purpose. These two ideas are often confused or used interchangeably because they have a lot of similar principles, and even some similar practices. Still, it’s important to realize that religion is not an aspect of health.
Being spiritually healthy DOES NOT require you to become religious. It doesn’t even require validation from anyone else besides yourself. The focus on the connection between your inner self and the greater world around you, your awareness of your place in the world, and the journey to this awareness is what constitutes your spiritual health.
Mental health has been a buzz phrase for the past few years, especially regarding its place in marginalized communities that experience disproportionate amounts of trauma. And just like physical health, it deserves all the attention it’s been getting because it often has a direct correlation to our emotional and physical health. Here’s what the officials at the World Health Organization have to say about mental health:
“Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
Mental health is fundamental to our collective and individual ability as humans to think, emote, interact with each other, earn a living and enjoy life.”
Because our brain controls how we think, feel, and act, it’s critical to make sure that our cognitive abilities are in good shape. For a quick mental health check-in, ask yourself these questions:
How am I feeling today (mentally and physically)? What’s taking up most of my headspace today? Am I giving my body the essentials (food, activity, sleep)? What did I do today that brought me joy? Who do I have in my corner?
The key to holistic health is maintaining these aspects all at the same time, because if one aspect is compromised, most likely, other aspects will follow.
But don’t let this challenge scare you! The process of building a health and wellness routine that works for you will help you learn yourself on a deeper level and provide the support you need to live your happiest and healthiest life each and every day.
And don’t worry, Melanation will be right here to provide you more info and resources on your health and wellness journey, so stay tuned!
Kymberly Deane is a writer, content creator, and storyteller based in Brooklyn, New York. Her passion for continual self-improvement and exploring new things has led her to become a health and wellness zealot, with a particular love for sexual health and wellness. She uses her writing to share the gems she discovers throughout her journey.