9 Pillars of Holistic Health
We are what we eat – I absolutely believe that nutrition has a great impact on our health. I myself went through a wonderful transition once I cleaned out my diet further and further. But I also experienced that there is much more to a healthy state than the food we consume. Holistic health is the key here. All the healthy fruits and veggies might not be enough if we don’t have access to clean water or we get only a few hours of sleep each night. Over time, such things catch up to us and not even a river of green juice could then bring us back into perfect balance.
Thriving for Holistic Health
I am getting really excited by the idea of vibrant health, a sharp mind, balanced emotions as well as staying fit and energetic up into old age. This is something we often start to treasure once we’ve experienced the other side. I’ve been there and prefer not to ever go back, so the following holistic health aspects became a very essential part in my life. Wherever I am, wherever my focus in life lies at the moment, I always try to incorporate those points into my daily habits as best as possible.
Of course, you might miss some points here that have proven essential in your own health journey. I am sure that this list is not complete since health is such a vast topic with connections to many other areas in our life. Nevertheless, these nine pillars impacted my own life in a profound way. So I hope they can be an inspiration or starting point for your own path towards more health and happiness.
What we eat and drink is the most direct contact with the outside world and our body. This is our greatest known source of energy which keeps our system running. I don’t even need to list studies proving diet to be one of the most essential factors for health, since this should be widely known these days. The simplest guideline for healthy nutrition is to avoid harmful foods (e.g. meat and dairy, processed foods, high amounts of fat). And on the other hand, to increase the intake of the good stuff, mainly fresh fruits and veggies.
In nowadays society about 80% of all jobs require prolonged sitting, often up to 10 hours daily. So it is alarming to hear about the health risks of sitting for too long, especially for our cardiovascular system due to impaired blood flow. So if you work out for an hour in the morning but then sit in your office for six hours straight, a lot of the exercise benefits are simply lost. To minimise the detrimental effects – stand up, move, stretch and make some squats every hour to vitalise your body.
Apart from that, regular movement also increases our lymph flow which enables a proper elimination of toxins and metabolic waste out of our system. So if you want to have a clean body on the outside and inside – include frequent movements throughout your day.
We never forget to breathe, but somehow we forgot to breathe properly. New-borns still know how to naturally breath deep into their belly. But as we get older in our fast-paced life we often feel stressed and our breath goes more shallow and fast. This is perfect for reacting quickly and getting ready to fight or flight in a dangerous situation. Unfortunately we never seem to catch the moment when to come back to our deep bellow breathing. It not only allows us to get sufficient oxygen to nurture our body and mind, it also helps us to calm down our emotions. And if done properly, it is a great massage for our organs which also engages our lymph system.
No wonder why different breathing techniques are so popular right now for emotional healing. But it also works miracles for physical performances like we see in Wim Hof or as preparation for spiritual development as known from Hatha yoga in form of pranayama.
4. Regenerative sleep and relaxation
“Work hard, play hard” is a popular lifestyle, but somehow the “relax hard” part is missing. Especially if we lead an extreme lifestyle, let it be a lot of work, exercise, social gatherings or any form of adventures – we also need to relax intensively. Always giving 100% without giving 0% in the time in between can work for a while and some people might even lead such a life for a few years. But eventually, the body will always take what it needs. If we don’t react to the first signs of exhaustion, at some point we are forced to slow down. We need to give space to the yang (active) as well as the yin (passive) aspect in our life with sufficient sleep, rest and time alone. This way, we can live an extraordinary life in the long run with vibrant, holistic health.
5. Clean environment – Water and Air
Proper breathing techniques and consuming enough water is not going to improve our health if we breathe in traffic exhaust and dust, ingest toxic byproducts like fluoride with our water. A new study even shows that pregnant women exposed to fluoride through drinking water leads to a decreased IQ of their children. Such toxic substances can accumulate in our system and cause problems in the long run.
Of course, the best would always be to move to a cleaner environment, but if this is not accessible to us, we can still improve our situation. There are great air masks available and often a green forest with fresher air is not too far away for a weekend trip. For the water, we can choose to consume more organic fruits and veggies to lower our need for bottled or tap water. Apart form that, a high-performance water filter can do a great job in protecting you from many unwanted substances.
6. Sufficient sunshine
When we look at the plant kingdom, the majority of them relies on sunshine to grow strong and healthy. The same goes for most animals. Only we humans seem to have forgotten the power of the sun for longterm vitality, holistic health and healing. Nowadays about 1 billion people worldwide are facing vitamin D deficiency and its wide-ranged health effects. But getting enough sunshine is not only about vitamin D, its impacts go far beyond that. The sun includes all colour rays, with very colour having a specific effect on certain parts of our body. Therefore an appropriate amount of sunshine can have tremendous healing benefits on our whole system. (Color Therapy (Sunlight), Dr. Morse Detox Miracle Source Book)
7. Balanced emotions
If you haven’t heard about the water crystal research of Dr. Masaru Emoto before, now is the time. He proved that thoughts and emotions greatly impact shape and structure of water, positively as well as negatively. Since we consist of more than 80% of water, our physical system is greatly impacted by our mental and emotional state and that of our social environment. So the question is – are your daily thoughts and emotions creating inharmonious, harsh shapes or beautiful, consistent water crystals?
8. Sense of purpose
In some cultures it is an essential part of daily life, in most Western societies often just regraded as nice-to-have – our purpose of life. Do you feel excited to get out of bed in the morning, driven by your mission in life? This can actually add more years to your existence here on earth and increase your mental focus due to different studies. In Japan it is called Ikigai and can be translated as “reason to be”. Ikigai is the melting point of four aspects – your passions, talents, your contribution to the society and how you can earn a living with it. This is quite an astonishing guide for life and one of the reasons why Japan is home to one of the longest living people, the Okinawans.
9. Social environment
The quality of our social relations is another important aspects to achieve holistic health. You might have experienced it before, after a joyful day with friends you come home and feel full of energy. Science confirms this effect by proving the value of strong social connections on our physical, emotional and mental health. It can even be as beneficial for our health than giving up a smoking habit of 15-cigarettes a day. Heart health, lower risk for depression, mental clarity up into old age and longer life-expectancy are some of the effects of a strong social network. And we certainly don’t need 500 Facebook friends for that, but rather a few people we truly care about.
Especially if your current life should not meet any of these criteria, every little step makes a difference. Even by tackling just one of the pillars you can improve your overall health tremendously. There is so much exciting science behind them and I’d love to share my own experiences with each of these aspects. So stay tuned for all upcoming blog post that will dive deeper into a healthy and holistic lifestyle.