When it comes to health and wellness, one of the keywords we hear a lot these days is holistic. However, have you ever thought about this word and what it means to you?
On Wednesday night, I co-hosted the pilot show of Hot N Holistic, a new webshow on Spreecast "devoted to a helping you live a healthy, wealthy and holistic lifestyle." Joined by the other co-hosts in a roundtable/panel format, we used the pilot to introduce ourselves and talk about holistic living - what it means to us, stereotypes and misconceptions, and our personal journeys to living a life of health and wealth in all forms. It made me reflect on my own definition of holistic living - how important it was to me, and if I was being about it, or just talking about it.
First things first - the definition (as per Merriam-Webster) of holistic:
relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts <holistic medicine attempts to treat both the mind and the body> <holistic ecology views humans and the environment as a single system>
To me, living a holistic life means looking at the self as a whole being, instead of compartmentalizing. It acknowledges the interconnectedness of the various facets of health - mainly physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. It highlights the fact that the different spheres of our lives overlap like a Venn diagram, versus a hard line pie chart. Work life, home life, family, physical health, mental health - these are just a few of the aspects that undoubtedly blend into and affect each other, as much as we often try to keep them separate. Taking care of yourself as a full being - understanding that stress in one area of life can affect productivity in another; making healthy eating and physical activity a part of your lifestyle; and understanding the benefits of finding balance in life (even if that means making changes to the things you've always just done), is crucial to living holistically.
On the show, we took turns talking about our personal journeys to holistic living, and many of us echoed similar sentiments. Witnessing the often-preventable health struggles of those close to us. Facing our own illnesses and health scares. Feeling utterly imbalanced in our lives by stressing about work, family, or finances. These were some of the key factors that encouraged us all to look at our lives and make the necessary changes in order to live well.
As I look back at 2012, I can say with confidence that this was likely the most unhealthy year of my life. I used ALL of my sick days at work, which I've never done before. I had the cruelest colds and viral infections ever. I was ordered off work by my physician twice. I had my previously-documented cervical cancer issue. Damaged relationships exploded in all their dysfunctional glory. My stress levels were off the charts. I probably cried more in these 12 months than I have in a LONG time. Phew.
I got to the fork in the road where I could either choose to dig deep and do the hard work necessary to make changes for the better, or I could continue along this path, which undoubtedly led to a dead end. I've chosen to do the former.
So, what does a holistic life look like to me?
- I'm making changes to my diet - cutting down on the junk food and eating much healthier.
- Making time for working out has proven to be an amazing stress reliever, in addition to all the physical benefits.
- I'm using more natural products and ingredients for anything that goes in or on my body.
- I've learned about my triggers, and the unhealthy things I do when I feel stressed, anxious, or out of balance. Instead of reaching for a cupcake and stewing in my negative thoughts, I'm training myself to do something better, like journal or work out.
- All of the things that aren't serving me in a positive way? I'm getting rid of them. Clutter in my house? Gone. Negative people? Gone. Stressful situations that I have the power to remove myself from? I'm gone. If I can change it, I do. If I can't, I change my attitude towards it.
- I've expanded my circle of healthcare professionals to ensure that I am able to get a full 360 view of my health. I've also expanded my mind to research both conventional and alternative methods of healthcare and treatment.
- Most importantly, I'm working on ensuring that I listen to myself, and that I value myself as a whole person. Trusting my instincts, not second-guessing myself, knowing what I deserve and what I will not tolerate, and recognizing/taking accountability for the shortcomings and flaws I need to work on are vital.
In talking to a few people about the Hot N Holistic show, the vibe I got was that living a holistic life was difficult or extreme. I used to think so too - there was no way I could set my curry chicken and rice + peas aside for a plate of granola. However, it took me reaching my danger zone to realize that it's actually a simple decision - implementing the smallest changes to restore equilibrium in my life and look at myself as a whole entity started making all the difference. Stereotypes and misconceptions about living holistically abound, but when you get right down to it, it's all about living your best, fullest, most whole life.
When you look at yourself as a whole person, what is something you would change to improve your life? Instead of compartmentalizing into solely being a brother, daughter, significant other, co-worker, student, parent, caregiver, or any other hat you wear in your daily life, look at yourself as a whole. Will changing your diet improve things? Will getting more physical activity in your schedule help? Will identifying and eliminating unnecessary sources of stress give you more balance? Once you take the time to think about it, the answers will usually come to you quite easily - and you might wonder like I did, "Why didn't I think about this sooner?" A wise person once said, "better late than never" - and it definitely applies here.
What are your thoughts on living holistically? Do you feel that you are living a whole life right now, or have you identified ways in which you can begin to do so? Want to keep up with the Hot N Holistic show? Like the Facebook page and stay tuned - the official kick-off show will be January 7th!