Dear friend, I have a question I want to ask you:
What does it mean to you to be healthy?
Don’t skip this part. Before you keep reading, take a moment to stop and consider your answer to this question. Explore the possibilities, and get a little giddy thinking about the emotions and feelings that come up for you:
Perhaps you’re in a place right now where you would call yourself perfectly healthy.
Perhaps you would say that you are unwell.
Perhaps you find yourself somewhere in between.
I know a lot of us can relate to that last category.
What Health Isn’t
I am convinced that perfect health doesn’t exist. We don’t have to experience very much of life before we realize that we live in a world that is full of sickness, pain, and disease. There will always be something (or many somethings!) we wish we could change when it comes to our health and the health of our loved ones.
As a quick caveat, when I talk about things we wish we could change, I’m not referring to severe, acute illness. In these cases, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. I’m speaking to those of us who find ourselves in a place of constant, nagging dissatisfaction with our health. It’s a tough, stagnant place to be. Over time, this type of mentality will become a grind and wear us down if we do nothing about it.
So what do we do moving forward? How do we get out of this mindset, finding peace amidst imperfection? How do we not only survive in this world, but thrive in our best way possible?
What Health Is
I certainly do not have all the answers to these questions, but as I’ve had the chance to experience 24 years of life on this planet and talk with many people about their health through my health coaching and nursing career, I’ve begun to see just how interconnected various aspects of our health are to each other. Let me explain what I mean.
When I talk about “aspects of health,” I’m referring to what’s known as the seven dimensions of wellness. There are possibly more, but this is a great starting place:
If you’re unfamiliar with any of these, check out this helpful article for an overview.
These seven aspects of wellness compose what’s known as holistic health. You’ve probably heard the word “holistic” before. And yes, it’s a buzzword these days. Unfortunately, many people have different assumptions about about what it means. The American Holistic Health Association defines it as this:
Holistic Health is actually an approach to life. Rather than focusing on illness or specific parts of the body, this ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he or she interacts with his or her environment. It emphasizes the connection of mind, body, and spirit. The goal is to achieve maximum well-being, where everything is functioning the very best that is possible. With Holistic Health people accept responsibility for their own level of well-being, and everyday choices are used to take charge of one’s own health.
Basically, what this is saying is that these seven areas of wellness influence and affect each other. For example, I may take all the right supplements or eat the cleanest diet (physical), but if I’m rigid and unforgiving towards myself and others (emotional), that has great potential to damage areas such as relationships (social) or pursuing my life’s passion (occupational). As a Christian, the spiritual component is the most important of my life. My faith in Jesus Christ and my belief in God’s Word as the ultimate authority is the foundation for my life. The point is, if one or several of these dimensions are off, the others can suffer. However, when we take steps towards health with a holistic perspective, the results are transformative.
Reframing The Health Mindset
My encouragement to you today is simply to evaluate the way you approach your health. Think about your answers to these questions:
Are you considering your health as a whole or are you focusing only on one aspect?
Are you seeking to work with your body or are you fighting against it when issues come up?
Do you ignore your nagging symptoms – because if you don’t think about it, of course it’s not there, right? ;)
Does the topic of health bring up a rollercoaster of emotions for you?
Are you willing to be patient with the process and view your health as a long-term journey instead of a quick sprint to the “finish line” of perfection (which we’ve already determined doesn’t exist)?
On this blog, I’ve written a lot about health. I’m passionate about health – mind, body, and soul – because I know that even small changes can make a huge difference. When we have energy, brain clarity, and just feel well, we are able to live fully and reach our fullest potential. We’re able to serve others in the ways we want to. We have the capacity to create cool projects. We cultivate insatiable curiosity for the things around us, which leads to exciting discoveries and problem solving. In pursuing wellness for ourselves from the inside out, we create something that is resilient.
Can we fix every symptom or root cause? Can medical science answer all the questions? Will health coaching, supplements, meditation, chiropractic care, acupuncture, or essential oils solve every problem? Absolutely not.
However, I am convinced from personal experience and from talking to many women that when we take steps to promote our own wellness – when we are active and engaged, joyful participants in our own health, the results can be massive and life-changing.
And that, my friend, is why the word "holistic" is not just a buzzword.