Finding your way in your journey to positive health and wellness is a difficult and often overwhelming task. Just as a healthy diet and exercise are the accepted methods of improving your physical health, nutrition, exercise and other holistic protocols can effectively be used for improving your mental health.
When it comes to mental health in particular, a single treatment will not be effective for everyone. Each person on a journey to better mental health needs to identify the treatment—often treatments—that works best for them. For you, treatment should be customized to who you are as an individual and work on both your mind and your body. Treatment for mental health and wellness should encompass your entire experience in order to find the best path to better health through lifestyle changes and holistic wellness.
What Is Holistic Wellness?
The term holistic wellness refers to holistic in the literal meaning: an all-encompassing approach to the whole person. The goal of holistic health is to take into account all factors of life and all functions of a person. It refers to taking care of a person’s wellness in regards to their entire being and experience, rather than focusing on one facet. In this way, holistic wellness creates an approach to wellness that is complex, multi-layered, and personalized, working on the health of the mind, the body, and the spirit to improve mental and physical health.
Holistic mental health treatment is often considered an alternative to medication, and may work to eliminate damaging psychotropic medications from a patient’s treatment plan. It’s important to see how this treatment approach turns to the root of the problem and addresses the cause of mental health issues rather than addressing the myth of “drugs can cure chemical imbalance” that made these medications so frequently prescribed. Holistic wellness aims to mitigate each of the many potential causes for poor mental health, and works to balance the states of the mind and body instead of a chemical level. 5
Support for this method of treatment has increased dramatically recently, as social and cultural movements are realizing the benefit of holistic health and lifestyle pursuits. As a result, holistic therapies are becoming more accepted in both mental health and medical care. It’s important to note that holistic wellness can include nutrition, diet modification, support for a healthy gut microbiome, neurotoxin removal, and many other non-drug-based treatments and alternatives to drug therapy and more generally refers to taking care of all the facets of your health and wellbeing.
Holistic Mental Health Therapy
Physical health is important, but so are emotional wellness, spiritual wellness, and more. In order to achieve optimal health and wellness, every aspect of a person must be in good health. The best holistic approaches are found when those using them understand and believe in the science-backed benefits holistic wellness can give them.
In mental health treatment, holistic therapy is shown to have positive outcomes such as CBT and traditional psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy.1 The addition of other holistic mental health therapies, including attention to sexual health, 2 spiritual health,3 financial or occupational and lifestyle health,, and adding exercise and nutrition components, can help to further improve the outcomes. By focusing on the individual components that can contribute to poor mental health, holistic mental health treatment can improve mental health and prevent relapse of mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and substance use disorder.
Key Holistic Wellness Components
Holistic treatment helps to monitor and address every aspect of your health, so you can work toward overall wellness. The key components of health are mental, physical, emotional, social, spiritual, financial, lifestyle, and occupational wellness, and each contributes to your overall health in a unique way.
A healthy outlook and mental wellbeing is needed for overall personal health. Mental fitness allows a person to be able to communicate, make decisions, think critically, and learn and grow from their experiences. It also enables you to have better mental resilience against stress.
Physical health is more than just being sick or not sick—or fit or unfit. Physical wellbeing can be measured by your energy, strength, fitness, nutrition, sleep, flexibility, and more. Even when you are chronically ill or struggling with a mental health issue that affects your physical well-being, you can pursue improved physical health by focusing on making small changes that boost each aspect of your physical wellness.
Proper emotional health is important to regulate emotions, work through stressful situations, and deal with uncomfortable feelings. This aspect of wellness is immensely important to overall health, but is often ignored in our society. Emotional wellness has a significant impact on how our interpersonal relationships function.
Achieving holistic social health includes participating in social experiences and spending time with others. It also encompasses connections with friends and family and maintaining other relationships. At its core, social wellness is a sense of belonging and strong social ties to the world around you, to create a more fulfilled and healthier life.
A healthy spiritual life refers to finding purpose in life and discovering a connection to something deeper in your life. It creates better motivation, resilience, and a sense of belonging.
Financial stress is detrimental to your holistic health. It can lead to feelings like a lack of control, lower self-esteem, and fear over emergencies. Restoring financial wellness can improve sleep, reduce stress, and boost your overall health.
Occupational wellness means you are able to find joy and meaning in the work you do. Considering the amount of time you spend at work, your state of occupational wellness can have a great deal of impact on your life. Fulfillment and growth in your career can be an asset to your overall wellness.
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Mental health is only one aspect of your being, albeit an important one. If your social, emotional, physical, or spiritual wellness is suffering, it can be difficult to focus on mental wellness. A healthy balance of all aspects of wellness is needed to optimize the brain and body. Unfortunately, when people talk about health and wellness, they’re often referring only to physical health dramatically simplified as the presence or absence of disease. Holistic health, on the other hand, considers all dimensions of health, how they all connect, and how they impact one another.
People are generally aware that stress can cause or worsen major health concerns, and that extremely stressful events can often lead to negative physical results. The concept of holistic wellness brings this connection up a level. We cannot continue to separate physical, spiritual, and social well-being from emotional happiness or mental health. Environmental medicine, one aspect of holistic well-being, looks at the impact of environment on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional responses. By addressing the multiple root causes of negative mental, physical, or emotional distress, holistic care can allow you to focus on a better quality of life.
How Holistic Care Improves Mental Wellness
By addressing the connection between the mind, body and other aspects of health, holistic care can improve treatment outcomes and improve mental health.
Here are some of the most significant benefits of holistic care:
All symptoms and systems are engaged in treating the mental health problem. Behavioral, physical, social, emotional, spiritual, and lifestyle health are all working towards improving mental health.
Stress is reduced by learning stress regulation. Many holistic treatments help regulate stress, and lower stress leads to a healthier mental landscape.
Holistic health focuses on the mind as a key aspect of the healing process. Part of that healing process involves training your mind to turn away from negative or distressing thoughts and create calm within. That way, you can learn to react differently to triggering stimuli that would usually aggravate or provoke you, and achieve a calmer mindset.
Diet and activity changes are emphasized by holistic health, and they are very useful in limiting symptoms of anxiety and depression. These physical activities combined with targeted nutritional supplements, cleansing neurotoxins, balanced diets can also eliminate mood swings and boost the quality of sleep.
How Do You Achieve Holistic Mental Health?
Taking steps to control your stress levels is one important way to balance your mental health, particularly during and after treatment for substance use disorder. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to eliminate all the stressors and triggers in your life. However, learning to cope with stressors and triggers with holistic mental health practices is an extremely important skill to develop to improve your overall health and chances at recovery.
Holistic wellness considers the whole person, and by addressing your mental health this way, you can find productive ways to begin healing your brain, body, and self.
Some actions you can take to improve mental wellness could include:
Meditation can calm your mind as you focus on peaceful relaxation. It also centers your mind and body on the current moment, especially in times of anxiety or stress. Also, consider breathing exercises, as a way to breathe fully, allow oxygen to your brain, and relieve stress.
Diet and Exercise
A proper exercise routine can build muscle and endurance to keep up your physical health, create routine, and improve sleep quality. It can also boost your self-esteem and distract you from distress or worry. In the same way, providing your body with the proper nutrition can ensure you optimize your physical health and provide your brain all the right nutrients it needs to enhance mental health. Yoga, in particular, combines exercise, movement, and breathing exercises, and connects your mind and body.
Nurture your social relationships to find a support structure in friends and family. If you take care to seek helpful people that support your recovery or mental wellness, finding a support system brings many positive effects to your emotions, health, and lifestyle.
Proper rest can be key to a healthier life. Keeping your brain recharged with adequate sleep and sufficient breaks can reduce stress, improve mental health, and boost your physical health. Seek non-drug-based solutions to improve sleep quality.
Find a Hobby
Engage in a hobby that inspires both passion and fun. Finding something you love doing is necessary for emotional and spiritual well-being, and makes for a creative mindset. Creativity is especially proven to have a positive effect on mental health treatment.4
These are only a handful of potential approaches that may be incorporated into holistic mental health treatment. There are many other paths that can help you and your loved ones find the treatment that best suits and helps you grow and heal. Working with a holistic therapy expert is a good approach to find the right options for you.
Improving Your Health Through Holistic Wellness
Holistic treatments engage with every aspect of your health and help you learn the necessary lifestyle and behavioral changes necessary to improve your quality of life. Through holistic treatment methods, you can discover long-lasting success and improvement. Rather than the minimal benefits and side effects presented by medications, you can address the root of the problem by treating the whole self.
For more information about holistic treatment, contact Alternative to Meds Center today. We can help you address the main cause of your mental health concern instead of just the symptoms. With holistic mental wellness, you’ll learn how to live your most fulfilling and healthiest life.
1. Seow, L., Sambasivam, R., Chang, S., Subramaniam, M., Lu, H. S., Assudani, H. A., Tan, C. G., & Vaingankar, J. A. (2021). A Qualitative Approach to Understanding the Holistic Experience of Psychotherapy Among Clients. Frontiers in psychology, 12, 667303. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.667303
2. Hendry, A., Snowden, A., & Brown, M. (2018). When holistic care is not holistic enough: The role of sexual health in mental health settings. Journal of clinical nursing, 27(5-6), 1015-1027. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocn.14085
3. Koslander, T., da Silva, A. B., & Roxberg, Å. (2009). Existential and spiritual needs in mental health care: An ethical and holistic perspective. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 27(1), 34-42. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0898010108323302
4. Jakovljević, M. (2013). Creativity, mental disorders, and their treatment: recovery-oriented psychopharmacotherapy. Psychiatria Danubina, 25(3), 0-315. Retrieved August 5, 2022, from https://hrcak.srce.hr/file/237656
5. Moncrieff, J., Cooper, R.E., Stockmann, T. et al. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Mol Psychiatry (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-022-01661-0 [cited 2022 Sept 15]
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Lyle Murphy is the founder of the Alternative to Meds Center, a licensed residential program that helps people overcome dependence on psychiatric medication and addiction issues using holistic and psychotherapeutic methods.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.