Holistic Wellness: A Multi-dimensional, “Whole Life” Approach
Today I saw someone post a meme on social media that said, “It literally feels like January 74th.” Can you relate? Why does it always feel like the month of January lasts so long? Yes, it literally is a longer month because it has 31 days in it, but it seriously feels like a lot longer than that to me. After reflecting on that, I thought of a host of various reasons including it being really dark this time of year which can make people tired and unmotivated and feel like hibernating. Also, the rush of the holidays is over, and we are now weeks into getting “back to the grind.”
Perhaps you’re in the group of people who were feeling super-motivated at the beginning of the year with a list of resolutions and hoping for a fresh start? And now the reality of it all is settling in and you’re feeling bad because you’ve gotten off track. [Want help with that? Read “How to stop sabotaging your goals.”] Whatever the reason, I’ve been hearing in my counseling and coaching sessions lately that people are really “in a funk” this time of year. So what can you do about it?
Holistic Therapy For Your Body, Mind and Spirit
I consider myself a holistic therapist. A lot of clients have asked me, “but what does ‘holistic therapy' mean?” It means that I think that humans are very complex and that there are a variety of factors that contribute to our overall feelings of well-being. When my clients report to me that they’re feeling “stuck” or “unhappy” or “in a funk,” I think it’s important to explore all of the areas of his/her life that could be contributing.
Five Domains of Holistic Health
I organize these factors into 5 different categories of health: Mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and financial. I used to only consider the “mind-body-spirit” connection, but I’ve found that there’s plenty to explore in the realms of emotional health and financial health to warrant their own categories. Here’s an “inventory” of sorts; some questions to ponder to see where your life might be feeling out of balance, and possible areas for growth. Of course, there are several questions that could apply to several different categories, so taking care of one area of your life could greatly affect other areas. This inventory is not meant to be all-inclusive, but just a good start to figuring out where you might want to be focusing your energy to start feeling better.
Five Facets of Your Health to Explore When You're Stuck in A Slump
- Mental Health – Am I stuck in negative thinking? Are my thoughts intrusive or overwhelming? Are there difficult things I've lived through that are unresolved, or keeping me stuck and unable to move forward? Am I depressed or anxious?
- Physical Health – When was my last physical? How is my nutrition? Do I get enough exercise? How is my sleep schedule? Are my sexual and physical needs getting met? Do I have an illness that is impacting things?
- Spiritual Health – Do I have a purpose? What are my values, and how much am I living a life that incorporates what I value? How much am I living a life in line with what my “soul” needs and wants? Do I feel like I have a way to access my soul or higher self?
- Emotional Health – How much time am I putting aside to tune into my own needs, wants, and emotions? When I have an emotion, do I connect with it or do I push it away? How are my relationships with others?
- Financial Health – How do I feel about the state of my finances? Do I feel like I’m in control of my money, or do I feel like my money is in control of me? (Note: Many times when I talk about financial issues with clients, it’s more about the emotional needs and values behind money versus managing the logistics themselves).
Next Steps: Regaining Your Forward Momentum
Ok, so now what to do if you go through this inventory and you find that some things are “out of whack?” What would you do if there was something that was off in your car? You’d do something to get it fixed! So depending on which area of your life needs attention, why not consider taking action to create positive changes in that area? You might consider reading some self-help books for guidance in creating an “action plan” for yourself. But in my experience, the best (and easiest) way to get going is to reach out for support.
Connection: The Last “Secret Ingredient” For Empowered Positive Change
For example, if your “five questions” answers revealed that you have some unfinished business with the past, a trusted therapist could help you move past the past. Maybe you’re having trouble accessing what you really want or value, or struggling to follow through with things. In that case, a supportive, motivating life coach could be helpful. If you’re needing direction with the optimal nutrition for your body, consider hiring a dietician. Want to be held more accountable for exercise? A good personal trainer, or making exercise plans with a reliable friend might help you. I think you get the picture.
A holistic approach like the one I've described helps you not just gain self-awareness about the parts of your life in which you could use some extra support, but provides an inspirational road-map towards change and growth. While the domains of health and wellness seem different, they're connected together like the spokes of a wheel. And at the center of the wheel — and the center of a holistic life — is often connection. Humans are wired for connection, and we are meant to pool our resources. In my experience, finding strength in connection can help you do the things that seem overwhelming or unattainable on your own.
I hope exploring your empowerment in all these domains — Mind, Body, Soul, Emotions, Finances and Connection help you get unstuck, and start moving forward again.