What does holistic health even mean? Alternative health buzzwords get thrown around easily these days, but what do they really mean? And, more importantly how do they help you get healthier? As a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, my thoughts were to define this term and figure out what it means for you.

Holistic health simply means looking at health from the “full-package” perspective. It’s looking at you as a complete person, all aspects of your life and how they ALL contribute to your health. So, that’s talking about your physical body and all it’s intricacies, as well as your emotional state, mental health, and even your spiritual beliefs- if you go in for that sort of thing.

How does this affect you and your unique health issues? Let’s look at some practical examples… You could eat perfectly, from your own home-grown organic garden, but if your job as a covert CIA agent is filled with endless death stress then you’re just not going to be truly healthy. Alternatively, you’ve got relaxation down and there is literally no emotional stress in your life, but you drink a liter of vodka a day, then all that chill isn’t going to matter. There are endless variations on this theme: you eat McDonalds every day but you’re a triathlete, you have the greatest job but you’re in the middle of a divorce, etc. etc.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines holism as “a study or method of treatment that is concerned with wholes or with complete systems”. Compare this to conventional Western medicine which looks specifically at symptoms and individual pieces/parts. Go to any specialist and you’ll see how the Neurologist can’t connect your migraines to your gut, let alone the stress of your workplace downsizing. Or the Gastroenterologist can’t see the connection of your IBS to your asthma, let alone your diet or relationships. And, it goes on and on.

Holistic health literally looks at everything going on in your life, now and in the past, as a part of the whole picture of you and your health. A good holistic health coach is going to want to know about not only your symptoms, but what else was going on when they started. They’ll want to know about your diet, but your lifestyle too. How’s work? Do you love it or hate it? How’s your emotional well being and your mental states? High or low stress levels?
All this matters and comes into play when figuring out how to help you heal yourself. It may not be about your diet, but a need to find your purpose. Or, it could just be about your diet! But, who knows if we don’t look at everything involved in being you? And, the solutions for your particular issues should go beyond just the physical too, as your individual case may be.

American Holistic Health Association defines holistic health as “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.” And, this really sums it up. If you aren’t feeling your best, knowing something’s just not right, it might be more than just a food sensitivity. It could be something physical underlying that sensitivity or it could be how sad you are that your mom passed away 6 months ago, and it could be both. Both need looking at and both need to be addressed for you to be your ultimate self.