Dr. Jones, Integrative Medical Psychologist
Trauma, Wellness & Addictions Specialist
What is a holistic lifestyle?
Modern medicine has developed cures for infectious diseases and chronic conditions to enhance human lifespan and reduce suffering. Yet despite advances in medicine, the current leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. are from preventable diseases and conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and arthritis. Common and costly health risk behaviors that cause chronic illness are poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and substance abuse, i.e., drinking too much, smoking, and abusing illegal or prescription drugs. The common denominator of all of these health problems is stress. Physical, mental, and environmental stress is the epidemic of modern society.
The biopsychosocial model of health is a fancy way of saying holistic health. Some people think the term 'holistic' refers to a belief system that completely rejects modern medicine. This is a common misunderstanding. These terms are actually quite similar because they refer to the physical, psychological (thoughts, emotions, and behaviors) and the social (cultural, spiritual, economic, environmental) influences on human functioning. Living a holistic lifestyle is simply a pattern of healthy choices and behaviors that make you feel like a whole person. Addressing the needs of the mind, body, and spirit (or inner source of power) is the first step to whole health. Living a holistic lifestyle means that you are committed to living your life to the best of your ability.
The Mind: Everyday we must cope with various demands and expectations at home, work, school and social environments. When the stress of all of these demands piles up on us, we can become overwhelmed, anxious, depressed or physically ill. The emotional effects of stress can lead to other symptoms such as fatigue, headache, poor concentration, memory deficits, and sleep and appetite disturbances. For example, depression causes pain in the body in the form of aches, pain, poor sleep, and appetite changes. Effective treatment for depression focuses on the whole person to improve quality of life across the life span. An integrated, holistic approach supports traditional methods of treatment by adding healthy lifestyle behaviors to enhance wellbeing.
The Body: Life stressors are unavoidable and often too complex for the mind to immediately resolve. Our bodies send us signals when stress becomes unmanageable. Trauma caused by narcissistic abuse, childhood trauma, sexual abuse and domestic violence cause severe physiological stress. Signals of stress manifest as chronic pain, gastrointestinal ailments, high blood pressure, insomnia, binge eating, sexual dysfunction, and many other symptoms. Stress tolerance can be dramatically improved with consistent, healthy habits such as mindfulness, meditation, clean nutrition, exercise, relaxation, and emotional support.
The Spirit: Defined as soul, source of inner power, the transcended self, or that which gives meaning to one's life. Nurturing the spirit frees us from doubt, ego obstacles, and hopelessness. Following a spiritual path or philosophy creates mental clarity. When we stop trying to force people and situations to go our way, we let go of automatic feelings and reactions with a deepened awareness of our intentions and purpose.