While researching the definition of holistic health I discovered that there a variety of explanations. Many sources confused it with the definitions of holistic healing and complementary alternative medicine. CAM includes all healing modalities except conventional modern medicine.
Those explanations describe the hows of health and healing, but fail to include the overall condition of body and mind. The well-being of the whole self is what the definition of holistic health is based on.
A complete definition of holistic health explores answers to the following questions:
What is holistic health? How do you achieve and maintain improved levels of whole self wellness?
Borrowing from a variety of definitions, including the biopsychosocial model, I created the following inclusive definition of holistic health. It takes into account all areas of your life, including body mind health.
Holistic health is your overall state of wellness on all levels of your being: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. It encompasses the health of your entire being and extends to everyone and everything that affects you in any way. That includes your resources, your environment, and your relationships.
The World Health Organization says it this way:
Although we are accustomed to dealing with each of these areas separately, the word holistic implies the condition of the whole. In reality, body, mind and spirit are completely intertwined aspects of the whole. They are not separate entities and cannot be separated. When you affect one level, either positively or negatively, to some extent you affect the whole person.
For a deeper understanding of the definition of holistic health, it is helpful to look at the work of American psychiatrist, Dr. George Engel. Dr Engel rejected the medical approach of separating body as machine from the emotional makeup of patients in favor of an integrated approach.
He believed it was important to examine all areas of life, including body mind health, interactions with your environment and others. These interactions are important measures of well-being on all levels.
George Engel named his method of determining an individual's current state of health the biopsychosocial model. It helps you assess your level of holistic wellness now and in the future as you make changes.
Dr. Engel considered wellness to be based on many factors interacting together to create a whole picture of health. These factors include biological, environmental, psychological, and aspects of life.
A few measures of wellness include:
This view is contrary to the model embraced by the modern allopathic medical system, but I dare say in view of recent research about epigenetics (what is over the genes and influences them), the line is beginning to blur. Still, modern medicine still mostly operates from the viewpoint that we are our genes. It is our genes that primarily determine how long we live, our mental outlook, and whether or not we eventually succumb to heart disease, Alzheimer's, cancer and other conditions. It is us and the medical establishment versus our genes.
Recent research into the field of epigenetics is proving Dr. Engel correct. This is good news. It proves that we have a great deal more influence over our health and well-being than we were led to believe.
Holistic health is your state of overall well-being right now. It is not a static thing, but an ever changing state of being.
It is the sum total of the choices you make and the actions you take each and every moment of your life in every area of your life. The choices you make in those moments will be a major influence of your physical and mental welfare in the future.
It is helpful to think of health and well-being as a continuum. What you think, how and when you eat, sleep, exercise and relate to others moves you either further on the continuum toward good health or away from it.
When you need are in need of holistic healing, understanding the definition of holistic health can help you make wise, comprehensive decisions about what you need to best go about making vibrant well-being a reality.
And once you truly grasp the importance of the mind body spirit relationship, and address your personal welfare each of those levels, the more likely you are to see remarkable healing occur.