Holistic medicine has caught on in Western healthcare in a big way. Holistic approaches prioritize treating a person’s whole system, taking into account certain social and environmental factors that play a role in one’s mental health. Holistic medicine treats the cause of the disease, as opposed to the symptoms. In mental health, ‘cause’ isn’t always clear.
Mental health is impacted by everything from the relationships we maintain to our income, professional status, social skills, environment we live in, what we eat, how we spend our free time, and more. Holistic therapy can examine these factors and others, improving one’s overall lifestyle and thereby treating a mental health disorder without necessarily jumping to pharmaceuticals right away.
With that said, a holistic approach to mental health boasts many benefits. Here is an extensive guide about a holistic approach to mental health:
What is holistic therapy?
Our mental health is produced as a result of several systems working together. Medical, social, psychological, psychiatric, behavioral, lifestyle, spiritual, and other systems in the body and externally impact our mental health.
To treat mental health as a singular problem with a simple solution is to ignore these other systems. A holistic medical practitioner is trained to look at the complete picture, determining a plan for healing that acknowledges a patient’s total circumstances.
Studies on a holistic approach
Multiple studies have shown holistic medicine can treat mental health just as well as trying a patient on a medication. This isn’t to say that medications aren’t useful or recommended. Medication has a role to play in mental health. That said, it should not be the singular response. Fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and stressors may be resolved in part or fully through a holistic approach.
Depending on the disorder or condition, mental health episodes are often triggered by imbalances such as poor diet, increased stress, and environmental conditions leading to increased irritability. By adjusting one’s diet, for example, this can have a significant impact in mental health treatment as can reducing one’s stressors. As a first-line treatment, correcting imbalances is a fine starting point.
Meditate for mental health
Meditation has been shown to change how our brains work at a chemical level. There is more susceptibility to positive emotions like joy, love, and peace in someone who meditates.
These chemical changes can begin to occur in as little as 2-4 weeks or even after a single session. Mindfulness and meditation come in various forms. Regardless of how you arrive at it, the result is the same.
Eat better for mental health
A large aspect of the clinical holistic approach to mental health is with diet. In some cases, nutrition supplements are used. In most cases though, a lot about our emotional status can be corrected by adjusting our diets to include more non-processed foods, more water, more fruits and vegetables, and getting blood-work done to determine if there are any vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Exercise for mental health
Another key lifestyle change in holistic mental health treatment is exercise. This can be as straightforward as walking 20-30 minutes per day. Exercise helps us burn calories, release stress, regulate moods, and increases the efficiencies in our body.
Someone with a chronic and debilitating physical health condition should do some form of exercise, if possible. Even a short walk around the room or doing chores around the house can help circulate blood and increase one’s heart rate.
Healthy coping strategies
Some things we just can’t fix. The loss of a parent, for example. A chronic incurable illness is another. In managing our emotions on matters we cannot change, it is key to have positive coping strategies. Drinking alcohol and drugs or dwelling on negative emotions aren’t helpful. Coping in a healthy way involves doing something positive, processing these emotions, and learning how to move forward even with these sort of things that could hold you back.
Socialization for mental health
There is an inherent need in a lot of us to be social in some way. Even if it’s just a smile or a few words exchanged with a cashier, a social person is often a happier person than someone that’s isolated. A holistic approach to mental health may involve encouraging a patient to socialize more, join a club, engage in group interactions, or volunteer with a local organization.
Best holistic approach for you
There is no formula for the best holistic approach to mental health. A resolution of symptoms typically involves several things, such as changing one’s nutrition, increasing exercise, engaging in talk therapy or counseling, improving emotional acceptance, and engaging in meditation.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of mental health treatments under the holistic banner. While there’s no obvious solution to mental health disorders, a holistic approach is safe, effective, and provides a patient with the skills to self-manage for the long-term.