The World Health Organization, or WHO, states at the start of its constitution that health is about the physical, emotional, and social aspects of well-being. This prelude demonstrates the belief in holistic care from the beginning.
What is holistic care? It is a method of healthcare that addresses physical, mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health at the same time. This type of medicine is inspired by cultures, religions, and disciplines worldwide. Holistic medicine is about more than just healing people. It’s used to heal communities and the environment as well.
Integrated, Not Separate: Holistic Approaches to Health
“Holism” is a theory that all parts are connected somehow. In this practice, holism is applied to treating the whole person. It considers more than just the physical parts of injury or illness. Holistic healthcare providers have to ask themselves and their patients how the body, mind, spirit, relationships, and the places we inhabit are connected. These questions also establish how health outcomes and well-being are manifested and shaped.
These are things that members of the holistic healthcare field might ask:
- Body: What does the body need? Is this a matter of needing more sleep, better nutrition, more exercise, or rejuvenation? Is the underlying cause of pain something that needs to be treated immediately? Or is it possible for the pain to be managed in other ways? What are preventative measures for disease and injury?
- Mind: How do we better stimulate the mind? How do we encourage creativity, curiosity, and wonder? What can we learn from the things that we’re feeling? What information can we gather from those feelings? How do we embody both mind and spirit in constructive, healthy ways? How do our emotions connect with other people and our environment?
- Spirit: How do we interact with something larger than ourselves? Do we believe in a higher power or powers? If so, how do we connect with those things? How do we connect with nature, our ancestors, and the divine? How do we find other sources of a purpose beyond what we are?
- People: How do we connect to other people around us? How can the bonds between you, your friends, your family, and everyone around you become strengthened? How can you renew those relationships? How can you repair them if they need to be? How is it possible to be generous while still keeping healthy boundaries? And how do you cultivate a feeling of community?
- Culture: What are our cultural traditions? How do our traditions differ from someone else’s experiences? How do rites, art, performances, and ceremonies preserve a way of life? What are things that you want to continue? What can our cultures teach us about health and well-being?
- Environment: How are neighborhoods, plants, animals, and geography unique? What changes have happened to the environment and the people around you? What kind of history does this place have? How does your environment affect your health? Is it clean and inspiring? Or is it the opposite? What does the environment need to be healthy for you?
Holistic Healthcare and the Difference it Makes
Holistic healthcare might sound complicated, but talking to a provider can answer many questions. The more you talk with them, the more you’ll learn. By the end of that conversation, you might find that this approach to medicine is a better fit for you than traditional medicine. The relationships formed between holistic providers and their patients can often be stronger than the relationships between doctors and patients.