Ultimate Holistic Health Guide: Why You Need More Than Medications
Last updated: November 2020
Holistic health considers the whole person proactively, rather than treating symptoms after they’ve appeared. If you’ve ever been dissatisfied with the way your health regimen has been approached, consider the holistic model and take charge of your wellness today.
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The Medical Model is Not Enough
In today’s world, everyone takes medications. Whether it’s antibiotics, or a maintenance med, almost everyone has taken something for an extended period of time.
While sometimes these medications are 100% necessary – like insulin – other times, these medications (and their nasty side effects!) could be avoided.
If your a holistic health beginner, you’ve likely only ever known the medical model. You have a health problem, go to see a specialist, and receive a treatment for your symptoms.
Sometimes this treatment works, sometimes it can have negative side effects, and sometimes it doesn’t work at all and you have to start the process over again.
The medical model and the holistic model are different in that the holistic model will always help you improve.
I’ve experienced the medical model and holistic model both up close and personal. And I am SO thankful for the opportunity to learn more about a model that isn’t dismissive, prioritizes my goals, and looks at me like a human, rather than simply a conglomeration of internal systems.
Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, I am not YOUR mental health professional. The information provided on this website is for educational and informational purposes only and using this website does not establish a counselor-client relationship, or constitute provision of mental health services or medical care. I am not responsible for any damages resulting from your use of the content on this site, as the information provided does not substitute for collaboration with a health professional of any kind. Please consult with your health professional before making changes to your health regimen.
My Personal Experience
I don’t say these things from a high and mighty perspective, either. I was once there too – adding a medication to my regimen because I didn’t see any other option at the time.
Starting in middle school, I always had acne and managed it with over-the-counter topicals. In high school, it became much worse and prompted me to seek out professional help.
I went to see my primary car physician to request a referral to a dermatologist. He gave me the referral that I asked for, but then also told me that I would need to take antibiotics prior to visiting the dermatologist because they like to see that I would have already been in the treatment process.
We never picked up the first prescription because I was uncomfortable with the idea of antibiotics long term, and didn’t understand the connection between antibiotics and acne.
My Medical Mistakes
When I went to the dermatologist, I tried multiple different treatments including topical tretinoin, blue light therapy, and adapalene gel. Nothing really improved.
During this time, I really tried to research what was going on. At this time, there was much less solid research available to the general public about the effects of food and environmental factors on acne, but there was some.
However, when I went to the dermatologist with this information, attempting to learn more about what was going on inside of my body, she continued to tell me that she doesn’t know why acne happens, only that there are maintenance treatments for it. In other words, she told me that the only thing possible is to treat the symptoms (acne), not the root cause (digestive issues, hormonal disruptions, immune dysfunction, etc.)
Because I was uncertain of what to do, and the “authories” (AKA Doctors) were telling me that there was no other option, I ended up trying antibiotics, hormonal birth control, and finally nine months of accutane with temporary cortico-steriods once my acne got so bad I was taking painkillers to get my face to stop hurting.
While these medications stopped acne from occurring on my face, they did not stop whatever mechanism inside my body that was causing the acne. And I know at this point it wasn’t just simply an overload of p. acnes bacteria because my dermatologist tested the count on my skin.
What Led Me to the Holistic Health Model
I’ve been off accutane for two years now, and it’s the only thing that ever helped. However, I’m confident that whatever was wrong inside of my body was STILL going bonkers.
It’s this struggle with acne, being told that there is no other option but to treat the symptoms, and struggling with the aftermath of side effects that has guided me to pursue holistic lifestyle changes as a means to treat the root cause of my health concerns, rather than simply the outward symptoms.
The Holistic Model Heals
The holistic model addresses the whole person in this manner – attempting to resolve the whole, rather than simply mitigate the visible symptoms.
Instead of treating acne by changing the last step in the formation process (i.e, accutane), the holistic model looks at the first step.
In other words, you’re treating the underlying root cause, not just the visible symptoms.
The holistic model assumes the person is more than the sum of its parts. Rather than viewing each individual system inside of the body as separate, the holistic model openly acknowledges that all of these systems work together in harmony to create a cohesive human.
My skin problems were not just skin problems, but also digestive, immune, and skin problems.
And that’s just the physical aspect of things. The holistic model also addresses the mind, spirituality, social resources, and intellectual capacities in addition to the physical chemistry within the body.
Integration is Key
Holistic Health and the holistic model is called so because it addresses the whole human in all of its parts.
If one part is malfunctioning, the others won’t work well either. Vice versa, if one aspect of your life is improving, the other aspects will too.
For those of you who have experienced counseling, you know what I’m talking about. Often, people go to counseling for a specific and limited issue, but find that it also helps them in other seemingly unrelated areas of their lives.
For example, I’m sure many of you are familiar with Chris Traeger from the show Parks and Rec. In earlier seasons, he is highly focused on his physical health by taking insane amounts of supplements, running miles and miles per day, and focusing on nutrition. However, we saw later on in the series that Chris was a rather insecure person who struggled with people pleasing and social relationships.
After Traeger began seeing his counselor, Dr. Richard Nygaard, Chris appears to be a more well rounded healthy person (albeit still persistently optimistic).
Just as Chris improved when he integrated the different aspects of his health (i.e., mind and body), so can you through holistic health!
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One of the stronger components of holistic health is the growth mindset.
While the medical model focuses on relieving symptoms, the holistic model goes beyond symptom relief and focuses on improvement.
Rather than just “getting out of the red”, with the holistic model, you’re also focusing on growing within the black. This might mean that even if you don’t have symptoms, there is still room for you to grow!
Here’s an example. I don’t associate any specific, immediate symptoms with drinking soda; however, if I were to drink soda every day or even every other day, would that benefit my health? Likely not due to the excessive carbonation, high acidity, and high sugar content in the drink.
Even though you wouldn’t experience direct effects of drinking soda, you might want to reduce or stop your intake in order to improve your physical health today and down the road.
When considering the health journey as a possibility for growth, you open opportunities for positive change and better wellness tomorrow for yourself and others in your community.
Components of Holistic Health
Now that we’ve established that the better approach health maintains a holistic rather than single-minded outlook, let’s talk more specifically about the different aspects of holistic health, and how you might improve on any of these aspects.
Physical health is well-known and often the first or only thing people think of when asked how healthy they think they are.
Physical health includes fitness, nutrition, exercise, and typical ailments or concerns that you might go to a doctor for.
However, your physical health might commonly overlap with emotional health, or even financial health as well.
When developing your physical health goals consider ideas like, “Am I feeding my body the best resources it needs to function” or “what am I doing now so that later in life I can maintain my current functioning?”.
If you’re interested in improving your physical health, check out one or more of these articles below
Recent Physical Health Posts
Emotional Health is commonly known as mental health.
This includes your emotions, mental thought processes and logic, and sometimes overlaps with social, physical, and intellectual health categories.
Emotional health is commonly pursued through partnership with a counselor or psychologist, and can be treated by these or a psychiatrist.
Often, emotional health is thought to be separate from a chemical imbalance in the brain, but I’m here to tell you that they are one in the same. If you are struggling with your emotional health, say through depression or anxiety, you have a chemical imbalance. But that’s not to say that medication can resolve the imbalance. Trust me, it doesn’t. Doing differently, thinking differently, and speaking differently are the avenues that cause true change and improvement.
If you’re interested in improving your emotional health, check out these latest posts below!
Recent Emotional Health Posts
Social health is often one aspect of holistic health that people only consider if things are going REALLY wrong.
Take, for example, the married couple who are ready to divorce. Likely, they also struggle in other social relationships, and they have been struggling in their marriage many months or years prior to seeking a divorce.
The unfortunate truth is that if many people attempted to improve their own social skills proactively, rather than retroactively after communication, boundaries, and goals have gone downhill in the relationship, they might not need counseling, mediation, or a divorce.
It is my opinion that communication skills and boundary setting are the two most important skills in your social health arsenal.
For extra tips on how to proactively improve your social health, check out these recent articles below.
Recent Social Health Posts
Financial health is often one aspect of the holistic model that people do not initially think of. However, our financial health affects every single aspect of our health lives.
Without money, we would not be able to purchase food, shelter, or water – basic necessities. And without appropriate management of money, we can increase stress due to unexpected expenses that we don’t know how to pay for.
Your financial health plays a vital role in your life, whether you acknowledge it or not.
Financial health includes things like income, expenses, budgeting, financial planning for the future, and investing.
If you need tips and tricks to improve your financial health, check out these articles here.
Recent Financial Health Posts
One great thing about the direction that our current society is moving toward is the acceptance of spirituality in conversation and community.
For so long, modern day society did not want to acknowledge the impact of spiritual beliefs, religious beliefs, and personal values on the health of the individual. However, the holistic model very much values the impact of spirituality, or lack thereof.
Spiritual health encompasses both spirituality and religion. Meaning that you might have spiritual beliefs, that might or might not be demonstrated through your behaviors and routines.
For example, maybe you adhere to a specific spiritual text. I religious belief that would follow would then be reading this spiritual text daily. Spirituality and religion are different, but they go hand in hand.
Additionally, spiritual health encompasses your personal beliefs, or worldview; the answers you give to those big questions such as, “how was the world made,” or “what purpose do I hold in life”.
Follow through the following links for more information on how to integrate your spiritual health into your personal holistic model.
Recent Spiritual Health Posts
Intellectual health is an aspect of holistic health that is highly emphasized in the modern world, but often not considered to be an aspect of the individual’s health.
Intellectual health not only includes your intelligence, but also your motivation, career ambitions and goals, and what education opportunities you pursue.
If you grew up in a first or second world country, you likely experienced and focus on intellectual health, but did not see it as a direct influencer of the rest of your health components.
I’d challenge you to consider your intellectual health as such going forward!
Here’s some more recent articles on integration of intellectual health into your holistic health model.
Recent Intellectual Health Posts
Finally, it’s time to discuss ecological health. While the previous aspects of holistic health has focused on the individual, ecological health focuses on the impact you have on your environment and community.
Your ecological health is truly a symbiotic relationship: you and your environment work together to succeed.
Things to consider within the holistic health category of ecological health are “what activities do you have access to in your community”, “how often do you use community resources”, and “what can you do to improve your environment”.
For more ideas on how to get started in the ecological health category of holistic health, check out these posts.
Recent Ecological Health Posts
Your Holistic Health Journey Matters
If you’ve been going to the doctor when you’ve had a problem, and you’ve ever been dissatisfied with only receiving yet another pill, or you actually want to take steps to grow in your health, the holistic model is certainly for you. Not only does the holistic model attempt to help you create lasting and sustainable lifestyle changes, but as mentioned earlier it operates from a growth mindset.
It’s never too late to get started on your holistic health journey. Take a look at the suggested posts in any area and begin making goals of how you would like to improve.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below!
Leave a comment to tell me which holistic health category you’re going to begin working on first, and what you’re most excited about in starting your holistic health journey!
Disclaimer: Although I am a mental health professional, I am not YOUR mental health professional. The information provided on this website is for educational and informational purposes only and using this website does not establish a counselor-client relationship, or constitute provision of mental health services. I am not responsible for any damages resulting from your use of the content on this site, as the information provided does not substitute for collaboration with a health professional. Please consult with your health professional before making changes to your health regimen.