Have you ever played that word association game? There are a couple of variations of it. I’m talking about when someone says a word and wants to know the first thing in opposition that comes to mind when you hear it. When someone says “illness”, the first thing I think of in opposition is “wellness”. I feel like my chronic illness diagnosis jettisoned me into the holistic wellness realm.
Wellness is a state of being in good health. Illness is defined as a disease or period of sickness affecting the body and/or mind. Let me just say this upfront: Wellness is NOT the absence of illness. However, you can strive to be well while being ill. Wellness is more like an active process to grow, change, improve and be in good health.
What is Holistic Wellness
The concept behind holistic wellness or holistic health is that the whole self: mind body and spirit are equally important to the overall health of the person. Typically the practices within holistic wellness can be done simultaneously, They are complementary so to speak. Unlike traditional western medicines, holistic wellness doesn’t just address one symptom. It supports the entire body and can actually be used in conjunction with some of your other prescribed medications.
Holistic wellness takes into account the many factors that can potentially impact your overall health and wellness. It goes beyond the physical body and looks at things like environment and emotional health. There are discrepancies on the exact number of “pillars” there are to holistic wellness but I’ll get into that another time. The important thing to note is that all of the “pillars” work together for optimal health.
Practices that Support Holistic Wellness
Some practices used within the realm of holistic wellness are:
- physical therapy
- traditional western medicine
Why I love Holistic Wellness
When I became a member of the chronic illness community (in good standing), I quickly realized the importance of wellness. Myasthenia Gravis took away the control I had of my muscles. As I progressed in my illness, I noticed a decline in other areas of my life: my mental, emotional and spiritual. I began to search for ways to improve my wellness that were under my control. Those were things I felt like I could address while I was waiting for my medications to do their thing.
It’s amazing what you pick up on when you’re forced to sit and tune in. I noticed all the trash I was consuming (from food to media) and I also started paying attention to all of the things I was exposing myself to through the products that I use. Slowly I began tossing out / replacing all potentially harmful or chemically laden items in my home. I was being more conscious of everything. While I know that none of these singular products caused my myasthenia gravis, ridding myself of these things made me feel slightly better. At least I was doing something for my health.
Is it possible to be Holistically Well and Chronically Ill?
Seeing as holistic wellness is a continuum, you will never be the epitome of wellness. Let’s be honest no one has a perfect life. In most cases when you’re flourishing in one area, other areas may suffer. The goal is to be balanced. To ensure that you are paying attention to all of your different needs and be in tune with yourself enough when in area is in a deficit and in need of some TLC.
Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is absolutely crucial to live a higher quality life. Wellness matters. It matters because everything we do, every thought we think and every emotion we feel relates to our well-being. In turn, our well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. It’s a cycle and its your choices that make it a vicious cycle or healthy one.