The Multiple Dimensions of Holistic Health: Living a Whole Balanced Life

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I’m sure many of you know the importance of physical health and making healthy food choices. But what about emotional, mental, intellectual, and spiritual health and how that relates to overall health and well-being?

There are multiple dimensions of holistic health that I’m going to cover today. Health is very complex and multi-faceted. It goes much deeper than just exercise and eating healthy.

The idea of holistic health has been around for centuries and it’s never been more popular than it is today. It is a term that refers to all aspects of your well-being. It means looking inward at yourself as a whole! This includes the body, mind, emotions, spirituality and how they are all interconnected! In this blog post I will outline the multiple dimensions of holistic health that I personally work with as a holistic health coach!

dimensions of holistic health

What is Holistic Health?

I studied at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (IIN), so many of my views reflect these studies. I have personally grown from being a person who only wanted to eat healthy to lose weight to choosing nourishment both through food and lifestyle which fulfills me, which I’ll discuss below.

Holistic health refers to embracing the whole self, including the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects. A healthy lifestyle embracing all these dimensions is important because it can lead to a more fulfilling life while supporting overall well-being. Which is what we all need and crave!

Holistic health supports all aspects of one’s life. Living holistically looks at treating the root cause instead of focusing only on treating symptoms. Symptoms can help tell us what’s going on, but unless the root cause is diagnosed and addressed, the symptoms will keep reappearing.

Holistic health looks at more than just exercising and healthy eating. It looks at how your overall lifestyle can play an active role in your health!

Make sense, kinda?

Let’s go into a little more detail!

5 Dimensions of Holistic Health

There are 5 main dimensions to holistic health. Physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health all work together for an overall healthy lifestyle.

Physical health is holistic health

Physical Health

Physical health is more than just doing your daily exercise. It is about managing your body and mind to achieve a balanced state of well-being that includes all aspects of holistic wellness.

Physical health refers to physical activity, nutrition, sleeping habits, and stress management.

Mental Health

Mental issues may affect physical well-being as both are interrelated in complex ways. For example, stress has a negative effect on our immune system which makes us more susceptible to colds and flu. It can also cause hormonal imbalances due to high cortisol levels.

Self-care is extremely important. Treating ourselves well and nurturing our mind with meaningful activities helps us to feel better. For example, we may need time for relaxation or reflection, playfulness or creativity in order to replenish our energy reserves that have been depleted by the demands of life.

  • Research has shown that mindful meditation can help lower blood pressure
  • Mindful walking is a simple form of self-care which many people find helpful
  • Some forms of art therapy are also useful such as painting, drawing or sculpting something out when feeling overwhelmed
  • Pets may provide companionship and remind us about living in the moment without regrets

Emotional Health

Emotional health is often an overlooked dimension of holistic health. While some people may think that the body is the only part of a person’s life worth addressing, emotional health can lead to physical consequences as well.

Emotions such as stress and anxiety have been tied to many chronic illnesses like heart disease or diabetes because they often stem from unhealthy lifestyles where food intake is increased while exercise dwindles.

Research shows that dealing with negative emotions strengthens a person’s immune system which wards off illness when it does occur in their lives

Fostering positive relationships has also shown benefits for mental fitness by reducing levels of depression, improving mood stability, offering protection against substance abuse and decreasing feelings of loneliness

Social

A supportive social network like family members, friends, colleagues or neighbors can have positive impacts such as providing comfort when we need it most (e.g., during times of grief). We are, by nature, social creatures and need social interaction.

spiritual health is a dimension of holistic health

Spiritual Health

Spiritual health can be defined as a person’s connection to the world around him or her. It is influenced by things like individual beliefs, values and life goals.

Spiritual health is important because it provides people with meaning in their lives. It doesn’t mean you have to belong to a certain religion. It simply means you have a sense of purpose in your life, whether you connect yourself to a deity or not.

You are healthy spiritually if you are at peace with life. You feel that you are connected to the universe and everything works out for a reason.

You know your place in life, where you want to go with it, and how to get there. You also have a sense of control over what is happening around you rather than feeling powerless or victimized by circumstances beyond your control.

One way spiritual health can be achieved through meditation, which has been shown to decrease stress levels as well as increase clarity of thinking among many other benefits.

What are the 5 dimensions of holistic health

The above gave a brief overview on the main 5 dimensions of holistic health. Below I’ll go into more detail about how you can apply these to your life and start living more holistically!

Bio-individuality

I was first introduced to this concept while studying at IIN. Bio-individuality refers to the idea that one size does not fit all. Every person has their own unique needs when it comes to nutrition and physical activity, but also mental health which includes moods, energy levels and sleep habits.

A key component of bio-individuality is the concept of body literacy or “the ability to understand our bodies’ nutritional requirements.” Just because one diet works for your friend, doesn’t mean it will work for you. This should be considered when you are assessing your own health.

Bio-individuality also applies in other areas of life, such as spiritual practice, career, social life, etc.

The best way to assess bio-individuality in nutrition and fitness is by keeping track of how your body responds differently between different behaviors or eating habits. Does coffee make you anxious? Are there days where running feels amazing while other days it leaves you drained?

Spending some time with yourself and analyzing what your likes and dislikes are in the below dimensions will help you lead an overall healthy lifestyle!

Primary Foods

An important aspect of holistic health is the knowledge of primary foods. This is what fuels your life off the plate. They provide nourishment food can’t, because health is affected by more than just nutrition.

Health is ever evolving and the primary foods you need currently might not be what you need in the future. Continually assess these and see where you are!

1. Spirituality

The first dimension of holistic health looks at spirituality. It is an important aspect of a person’s life. Spirituality can be defined as one’s relationship with his or her higher power, and how this connection affects their motivations, thoughts, emotions and behavior. It also means one’s beliefs about what happens when people die.

Spirituality helps to guide the individual through difficult times in their lives by providing meaning and purpose for living.

2. Creativity

In this day and age, it’s easy to just let each day go by on autopilot. Wake up, work, go home, go to sleep, repeat until you die. Allowing yourself to stay connected to your creative self will help you feel less stressed and more refreshed in the long-term.

Creativity refers to the ability to artistically express yourself and to create things by looking at existing ideas and making new ones. Everyone is creative in some capacity, it’s about figuring what that is for you!

You can express your creativity in so many ways, through sending an email, writing a business proposal, drafting a blog post, writing a book, playing an instrument, learning a new skill, teaching a class, etc.

Whatever that creative outlet is for you, embrace it! Create a space for yourself to release any negative energy and put your thumbprint on something great!

3. Financial Health

A lot of people are quick to say money doesn’t matter, but let’s be honest. Aren’t you in a much better place mentally when you know how all your bills are going to be paid every month?

What does being healthy financially mean to you? For one person it can mean having a stable salary, money in savings, a retirement plan, and being financially secure for the future, and living off basic necessities in the present moment. Another person might consider financial health to be making enough money to travel the world.

Being in a good place financially is one less thing you have to stress about. And you’re in a better position to make decisions on your health, whether that be organic food or a weekend at the spa!

4. Career

Your career is essentially your life’s work. It provides you with an identity. It gives you purpose and a sense of life. The career you choose is a very important dimension of holistic health.

A person’s work can affect their physical health as well as stress levels which leads to emotional health issues such as depression or anxiety. A person who works long hours might not have enough time for exercise or healthy eating habits so they are more likely to develop illness due to lack of sleep, nutrition and activity level changes that lead to weight gain and obesity. They also may be struggling mentally because they don’t feel like they’re being fulfilled at work.

Think about it, working takes up your time and energy. Is going to work just a paycheck or do you see meaning and value in what you do?

5. Education

Education does not only refer to going to school or getting a degree! It can, but education refers to obtaining knowledge for personal or professional development. And the knowledge you need will evolve over time.

As humans, we are meant to grow and evolve. Learning new things increases brain health and memory and slows down aging of the brain.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford

Do you need a degree to progress in your career? Do you desire to learn a vocational technical skill? Maybe you want to learn some mindfulness skills to help you destress.

Always be learning!

6. Physical Activity

Some people cringe when they hear the word exercise, but it is a key aspect of holistic health. The key is finding exercise you enjoy.

Physical activity can be anything from walking, to yoga, or strength training. It’s anything that gets your body moving. It’s important to find what works for you and your preferences when it comes to physical activity so that you’ll enjoy the experience as much as possible and will feel motivated enough to continue doing it on a regular basis.

One person may enjoy the stretching and callisthenic nature of yoga to unwind after work. Another needs the high intensity strength and cardio sweat session.

home cooking as holistic health

7. Home Cooking

Cooking and eating homemade meals provides emotional and physical nourishment that frozen dinner entrees just can’t. Home cooking is also a great way to teach your children about food and cooking, which is an important life skill in today’s world.

Home cooked meals provide nourishment for the body and soul of you and your family that frozen dinners just can’t compete with. Plus, it’s one more chance to bond through healthy activity–even if you’re not much good at it yet! Home cooking is a wonderful opportunity to share something new with kids who are going into their own lives as they grow up; make sure they know what comes out of dinner besides the dishes!

8. Social Life

With the pandemic coming to a close, I think most of us will be happy to be socially engaged again. In person, that is. Social life is a big part of holistic health. It is important to have a community of people that you know and can rely on. It helps us feel less alone when we are down, or share with others what makes life good. Part of being human is the innate want and desire to feel needed and loved.

How much socialization you need depends on your personality. Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you need to be around people all the time or do you prefer some solitude? There is no wrong answer here.

Different times in our lives also require different levels of socialization. For example, when a person is just out of school and starting their career they may spend more hours at work than at home with family and friends. Later on, however, as they have children that are growing into young adults themselves; it may shift again where there’s less time for working outside the home and more focus on nurturing relationships inside the home. All these changes influence how much we need from others to feel fulfilled – so it is important to figure this out before comparing yourself against someone else who has been through one stage but not another yet.

9. Joy

The last, but not least important, primary food on the list is joy! We all need more joy in our lives. The joy I am referring too though, does not come from external sources. It comes from within. True joy comes from a state of internal peace and happiness. Can you look around yourself and find gratitude in your life or do you focus on everything going wrong?

Finding inward happiness and joy has significant positive health benefits for the body and the brain. The brain releases endorphins which decrease risk of disease.

There is also a sense of personal empowerment Which allows us to make decisions which align with our true core values!

5 Dimensions of Holistic Health (1)

We hope you enjoyed this post and are feeling inspired to make some changes. Remember, holistic health is about the whole person; it’s not just diet and exercise. Your physical dimension includes your body, emotions include how we feel in our bodies (i.e., happy or sad), mental refers to cognition (what we think) and social means our relationships with others. And of course all these dimensions overlap one another! The primary foods that can help us evaluate where we stand on each of these levels.

Want to learn how to implement these dimensions of holistic health in your life? Sign up for my Holistic Health Zine! I’ll teach you how to use your own unique bio-individuality to live a holistically healthy life!

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