You’ve probably heard of holistic medicine, the treatment that tries to treat the whole body and not just certain symptoms. But what about holistic mental health? While it doesn’t get as much attention as physical or even mental health alone, treating yourself holistically can help you improve your mood and overall sense of well-being in ways that less-holistic approaches cannot. Here’s what you need to know about how to get there and whether this approach will work for you.
What is a holistic approach?
A holistic approach is one that treats your physical and mental health holistically—that is, it treats all aspects of you at once. Your physical health may be affected by psychological factors, such as stress and depression, so addressing these root causes as well as underlying physical problems can mean that you get better faster. Also, a holistic approach acknowledges that symptoms aren’t always obvious; for example, if someone has aches in their joints but doesn’t realize it’s because they have arthritis.
Here are 10 tips to take a holistic approach to your mental health.
There are a variety of ways that yoga can help improve your mental health. Yoga helps people feel more grounded, less anxious, and better able to manage stress. This may be because yoga helps people feel more self-aware and focused, according to Amy Weintraub, author of Yoga for Depression.
Because yoga poses can look very different from person to person—they depend on individual body type and ability—they force you to focus on what’s going on in your body in a present moment. This allows for some mindfulness training, which has been shown to lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). In addition, stretching improves range of motion and flexibility by helping muscles relax.
Getting outside and enjoying nature is good for everyone’s mental health, whether you’re at home or out on vacation. Spending time in natural settings can reduce your feelings of stress and anxiety. It can also boost your mood and improve your sleep.
Getting outside daily isn’t easy for everyone though. If you struggle with depression, getting outside might not be enough to treat it; you may also need some professional help from a therapist or doctor. Even so, taking some time every day to breathe fresh air is healthy no matter what kind of mental health issues you’re dealing with.
Talk to Someone
Your mental health is an important aspect of your overall well-being. If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, or any other symptoms that are negatively impacting your life, it’s time to talk to someone. Speak with your doctor about starting therapy or getting involved in a support group.
Alternatively, if you prefer to be more anonymous, you can call certain mental health hotlines. Hotline advocates can help you find resources and support nearby. There’s no shame in asking for help—you’re already on your way toward holistic mental health care!
A holistic approach to mental health is one that seeks not only to treat symptoms, but also resolve them by addressing their underlying causes. This often involves consulting with practitioners from several different fields who work together to provide full treatment for an individual in order to achieve optimal physical and mental well-being.
Practitioners that are commonly involved in holistic health treatments include naturopaths, acupuncturists, nutritionists, massage therapists and exercise trainers.
Individuals dealing with anxiety or depression may find it beneficial to explore some of these avenues of healing as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for their issues. Those suffering from severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder should seek help from medical professionals instead of pursuing alternative approaches without consultation.
Address Toxic Behaviors
To create healthier habits, you may need to address some toxic behaviors. These are actions that you engage in frequently and on autopilot, but that don’t actually serve you. They are more about routine than actual results. For example, if your bedtime is 11 p.m., then every night when 10:30 p.m. rolls around and you can’t fall asleep yet again, it may be because you have a bad habit of staying up late watching TV or scrolling through social media sites while eating snacks even though it doesn’t make sense to your diet plan.
The first step is awareness. Write down some of your habits and look for recurring themes. How can you establish new routines that move toward what you want instead of away from what you don’t want? If you typically spend at least two hours on social media each night, do you really need to be doing that every day? Could you fill those hours with something else more productive or fun, such as exercising or watching a funny show with your family members?
Another way to improve your mental health is through journaling. Journaling allows you to get all of your thoughts, concerns, ideas and problems on paper and out of your head. While writing down what’s bothering you may not seem like an effective solution for stress or anxiety, it can help. When something is written down, we tend to become more aware of it – allowing us time and space away from whatever is bothering us so that we can think clearly about how best to solve it or manage it. By writing things down, we also lessen their power over us.
If you are feeling particularly stressed or anxious, try doing something else that’s calming. If you usually journal in bed at night, for example, try it in your office instead. And if there’s one particular thing that stresses you out above all others, break it down into pieces and write about each of them separately.
The benefits of meditation are well-documented: from reducing stress and increasing focus to improving productivity and helping with addiction. Meditation has been linked with almost all positive mental health states. It’s also been suggested that meditation can be used as a way of addressing many mental health issues, such as depression and ADHD. When practiced regularly, mindfulness is an excellent tool for self-reflection and greater awareness of negative or detrimental behavior patterns in our everyday lives.
Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in nature can be beneficial for your mental health, but it’s often not included in holistic approaches. Getting outside and connecting with our natural environment is an important part of overall health, yet many of us don’t have access to it or simply aren’t aware of its importance.
The benefits of time spent in nature include: improved mood; reduced stress; increased creativity; reduction in blood pressure; boosted immunity and reduced symptoms from asthma and seasonal allergies.
Even if you live in an urban area, you can reap these benefits by spending some time each day working on activities like gardening or enjoying a walk outdoors. Just 20 minutes per day is enough to help boost your mood and keep your brain healthy!
Get as much sleep as possible!
Most of us don’t get enough sleep. It’s easy to lose track, especially if you have a new baby or small children at home. But getting enough sleep is important for your mental health. Being tired can make it harder to control your emotions, which in turn could worsen any anxiety or depression you may already be feeling. If you think that you might need help coping with stress and adjusting your behavior, talk with your doctor about what kind of treatment may be best for you. And remember: Getting just one more hour of sleep in before work tomorrow may not seem like much—but it can really go a long way!
Get out of your head. Exercise is one of those things that seems like it will always fall second fiddle to other priorities, but that’s only because you aren’t prioritizing correctly. For optimal mental health, make physical activity a non-negotiable part of your day—that means carving out time for daily exercise, even if it’s only 15 minutes at first. It may be uncomfortable (especially if you aren’t used to being active) but there are many reasons why exercise has been linked to better mood and fewer symptoms associated with mental illness.
A holistic approach is defined as an integrated, individualized program of care that addresses all aspects of an individual’s being, not just a single symptom or disease state. As such, it promotes wellness by addressing physical, emotional, mental and spiritual factors.
In this article, we took the time to present to you 10 tips that you can start introducing into your daily routine to improve your mental health.
Let us know if you have any questions below.