The Five Dimensions of Holistic Health
Our understanding of human health and wellness has evolved greatly in recent decades. We now recognize that the five dimensions of holistic health are inextricably interconnected. And when one element is out of balance it impacts the others.
Wellness can be defined as a “lifestyle and a personalized approach to living life in a way that… allows you to become the best kind of person that your potentials, circumstances, and fate will allow.” So, for just a second, get rid of all of your insecurities and self-doubt. Imagine you are the healthiest and happiest version of yourself. What would that look like? Keep that picture in your mind as you continue reading.
In order to reach our potential, we must care for each of the five dimensions of holistic health: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and mental health. We must continually enhance our self-awareness to recognize our strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. And we have to replace negative habits with those that will benefit our wellbeing.
“With about 40 percent of our everyday behavior repeated in the form of habits, they shape our very existence, and ultimately, our future," according to a study on the dimensions of wellness. "For better or worse, habits very much influence health, well-being, and quality of life.”
Live life authentically in each of the five dimensions of holistic health. Be the best person you can be. You are capable of greatness. Let that flow from within, and you will reach your highest potential.
We most often think of physical health in terms of weight or appearance, disease, or pain. But it is so much more than that. Our physical health refers to how we care for our bodies on a daily basis through our choices and habits, which ultimately leads to long-term health.
There is also an external factor that contributes to our individual well-being: the health of our physical environment. The spaces we live in, the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil we grow our gardens in–they all contribute to our physical health.
Healthy habits for physical wellness:
- Eat a nutrient-dense diet by consuming whole foods such as organic farm-fresh vegetables and grass-fed, pastured animal proteins. Whenever possible, choose products from regenerative agriculture farms. When you choose to support these farmers, you are also supporting the health of the environment. Stay away from inflammatory foods that increase your risk of disease and discomfort.
- Exercise every day. You can forest bathe, do a HIIT workout, practice yoga, or simply go for a walk. But be sure to get your body moving for at least 15 minutes a day.
- Get quality sleep. This means getting an adequate amount of sleep and avoiding stimulants well before going to sleep so you can hit REM. Sleep is an important part of the body’s healing process.
- Limit or stay away from mind-altering substances such as alcohol, caffeine, and marijuana.
Emotional health is a state of being that allows you to manage your emotions in a constructive way. Positive and negative emotions will regularly enter your life. But it is important to take a step back to understand and respect our feelings, values, and attitudes without letting them adversely affect our days. Maintaining a level of objectivity in our emotions as well as others is imperative in building positive emotional health.
Healthy habits for emotional wellness:
- Pay attention to your thoughts and practice positive thinking. Your mind is a powerful part of the body and it can greatly influence your overall well-being.
- Keep a journal to create a safe space for you to express your feelings. And a place for you to identify areas you want to work on in your life.
- Get into nature. This is integral to our emotional health.
- Practice mindfulness through meditation, breathwork, and living in the present moment.
Social health refers to our ability to maintain healthy relationships, develop intimate connections with others, and allow others to care about us. It also includes making contributions to your community and respecting the personal boundaries that you create.
Healthy habits for social wellness:
- Make at least one genuine connection with a friend or loved one each day.
- Get involved in your local community by joining an organization or volunteering.
- Set healthy boundaries with people in your life. Learn how to say no when you need to, and recognize that you have full control over the FOMO you may feel.
Spiritual health encompasses our purpose in life, our guiding values, and our connections to others and the world around us. And it is largely up to the individual to determine their own spiritual health in terms of religion or faith. In essence, spirituality is the intangible part of the individual that transcends physiology and psychology.
Healthy habits for spiritual wellness:
- Give yourself time to reflect on who you are as a person and your place in the world. And ask yourself if you are on the path you want to follow in life. Take corrective steps while being gentle, kind, and understanding of yourself. Life is a journey, not a destination.
- Practice meditation and mindfulness daily.
- Get into nature and connect with the greater world around you.
- If you are religious, create a healthy space to practice your faith.
Mental health, while intertwined with our emotional health, refers to cognitive functioning. A healthy mental state is not merely the absence of illness. Stress and anxiety are part of daily life; it is our ability to handle situations and use them to our advantage that sets those with sound mental health apart from those who do not.
Stretching is as important for physical health as it is for mental health. Stretch your brain by exploring a new topic. Or discover new tools for growing stronger mentally.
Healthy habits for mental wellness:
- Be a lifelong learner. Keep your mind active by challenging the brain to learn more constantly and evolve as a human being. Allow yourself to further your understanding of the world around you.
- Consume nutrient-dense foods that support brain health. Your gut health is directly connected with your brain’s health. So, opt for foods that optimize your well-being. These include wild-caught fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, dark leafy greens rich in vitamins E and K, and liver. Liver is rich in folate and vitamin B12, which are both essential to maintaining healthy red blood cells and fostering healthy brain development.
- Replace habits and activities that negatively affect brain function with those that positively affect the brain. Consider picking up a new book or listening to a podcast that enhances your mental health instead of consuming alcohol or any substances.
- Drink adequate water throughout the day.
Holistic health is a profound reminder that true well-being goes beyond mere physical fitness. By understanding and integrating the five dimensions of holistic health – physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual – we can approach wellness in a comprehensive and interconnected way. This holistic perspective encourages us to see ourselves not just as bodies, but as complex beings influenced by a myriad of factors. By nurturing each dimension, we pave the way for a balanced, fulfilled life. As we move forward in our health journeys, let's remember that every aspect of our being is worth caring for, and true health flourishes when we attend to our entire selves.
This article is for informational purposes only, even if and regardless of whether it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.