Why Choose a Holistic Approach to Health?
What Is Holistic Health?
“Holism” is the theory that the universe is made of interactive whole organisms that are more than the mere sum of their parts, and that what affects one part also affects the others. The word “heal” comes from the Greek word “halos” and the Anglo-Saxon word “healen,” which means “to be or to become whole.” The word “holy” comes from the same source.
“Holism” in health care was taught by Florence Nightingale, who led nurses to focus on supporting unity, wellness and the interrelationship of human beings, events and the environment.
“Holistic health” is an approach to life where the whole person is valued. Rather than focusing on specific parts of a person’s body, holistic health considers the person’s body, thoughts, emotions, spirit and interaction with others and with the environment. The aim of holistic health is to support maximum well-being with the resources available.
The Origins of Holistic Health
Ancient healing traditions throughout the world have encouraged people to live in harmony with each other and with nature. Socrates (Greece, 4th century BC) warned against treating only one part of the body "for the part can never be well unless the whole is well."
The term “holism” was introduced by Jan Christiaan Smuts in 1926 as a way of viewing living organisms as "entities greater than and different from the sum of their parts." The terms holism and holistic entered our modern vocabulary during the 1970’s. Now holistic health is gaining popularity each year because its ancient principles offer a practical and sustainable approach well-being.
The Principles of Holistic Health
Holistic health is based on the law of nature that a whole is made up of interdependent parts. The earth is made up of systems such as air, land, water, plants and animals. If life is to be sustained, these parts cannot be separated, for what is happening to one is also felt by all of the other systems.
In the same way, an individual is a whole made up of interdependent parts, which are the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. When one part is not working at its best, it impacts all of the other parts of that person.
The whole person is also constantly interacting with its surrounding environment. For example, when a person is anxious about a history exam or a job interview, his or her nervousness may result in a physical reaction, such as a headache or a stomach ache. When a person suppresses anger over a long period of time, he or she often develops an illness, such as a migraine headache, arrhythmia, or arthritis.
The decisions people make about their life and habits are the largest factor in determining their state of wellness. The most obvious choices people make each day are what they "consume" physically. Harmful substances or lack of required nutrients can result in unhealthy cells, unable to keep that person healthy. Similarly, on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels, people are greatly affected by what they see and hear.
Holistic health is more than just the absence of illness. It is a continual process that begins with a personal commitment to improving one’s well-being, regardless of one’s circumstances. It is the view that each person is capable of experiencing well-being at any time, even when death is approaching.