Holistic Mental Wellness

Holistic Mental Wellness

Introduction To Holistic Mental Wellness

Many people think of illness as defining disease of the body, and mental illness as defining disease of the mind. More and more however we are viewing the person from a holistic perspective, or from a “biopsychosocial” viewpoint, to use a more “scientific” language. (Bio for life, psycho for mind, social for society and social environment). Therefore, “mind” and “body” are not separate. One affects the other. They are interrelated and part of the same whole being.

To extend the notion of this meaning, through the term biopsychosocial, for example, is to include the social environment as integral to the concept of a person. One is not separate from one’s environment. Thus, “holistic” approaches include looking at ways to better one’s environment, including one’s social environment, in order to increase feelings of well-being.

Counselling psychologist, Elizabeth Morelle, says that “In order to understand the idea of a social environment being an integral part of one’s holistic make-up, imagine a child growing up in an abusive home. Let us pretend the father is a violent alcoholic and beats the child’s mother when he is drunk. The child witnesses this and other horrors and lives in an environment where yelling and verbal abuse are a daily occurrence.

This child develops her concept of self via her early home experiences. Thus, she believes “normal” everyday life is scary and not safe. She goes through life in a state of hypervigilance and constant fear as this is the only way she knows how to be. She responds to her environment accordingly and her environment treats her in kind. Thus, she finds herself bullied at school, sexually abused as a young woman and eventually in a domestic situation, which is even more violent than her childhood.

Now imagine a different child who grows up in a kind hearted and child-centric home. This child receives love, nurturing touch, care, compassion, kind and gentle words and compliments on a consistent, daily basis. This child grows up feeling heard, honored, respected, and loved. She is self-confident. She believes in herself. She feels safe. She knows she can accomplish much and nothing holds her back. She believes the world is a safe and comfortable place and the world treats her accordingly. Opportunities come her way. She wins accolades and awards. She goes from strength to strength and becomes successful and happy.

To extend the analogy to holistic health, consider the following: The successful girl grew up with positive interactions with and support from her family members, in a safe environment. Her concept of self is stable and she has developed some fundamentally healthy core beliefs about herself.

For example, she believes she is okay, that she can succeed in the world, and that the world will accept her and shower praise upon her, which it accordingly does. She is able to cope well with stress and rarely gets sick. Her lifestyle habits are quite healthy and she feels good most of the time. She is able to enjoy her life and has a great social circle.

Now consider again the child from the unhappy home. She has developed a poor self-image. She holds some very negative core beliefs: that she is not good enough, she is hideous, she is unloved; she is nervous, anxious, fearful and finds it very hard to make friends.

She subsequently feels more and more isolated and she starts to suffer from severe depression. In order to cope she turns to drink and finally she too, becomes an alcoholic and addicted to cigarettes. Her health suffers and she ends up with emphysema and liver problems.

These are rather extreme stories and grossly oversimplified for the purposes of illustrating a point, but they show the interconnectedness of body, mind and environment and how each one can affect the other.

If you are looking for ways to balance your mental health, or for that matter your physical or spiritual health, the following practices and suggestions will help you take control of your life and make steps towards a healthier, and “wholer” you.

Table of Contents

Introduction To Holistic Mental Wellness ………………………………………………….. 1
Mind ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 4
Meditation ………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
Relaxation …………………………………………………………………………………………. 5
Positive Affirmations …………………………………………………………………………… 5
Changing Core Beliefs ………………………………………………………………………….. 6
Visualization ………………………………………………………………………………………. 7
Body ……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 8
Nutrition ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 8
Exercise …………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8
Stretching ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 9
Yoga …………………………………………………………………………………………………. 9
Nature Walks ……………………………………………………………………………………. 10
Massage ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 10
Spirit ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 11
Higher Power ……………………………………………………………………………………. 11
Finding Meaning ……………………………………………………………………………….. 11
Gratitude …………………………………………………………………………………………. 12
Service To Others ………………………………………………………………………………. 12
Surrender ………………………………………………………………………………………… 13
Lifestyle Habits ……………………………………………………………………………………. 15
Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff ……………………………………………………………….. 15
How Important Is It? ………………………………………………………………………….. 16
Surround Yourself With Positive People ……………………………………………….. 16
Let Yourself Have Fun ………………………………………………………………………… 17
Put Yourself First ………………………………………………………………………………. 17
Final Thoughts …………………………………………………………………………………….. 19