Ten Holistic Steps for Mental Health
by Ron Parks, MD & edited by Shan Parks
The failure to get positive results can be from following an inappropriate program for your needs. Consider exploring some complementary or alternative options that can bring positive improvement. The goals of broadening your personal program would be for you to regain optimal health, fitness, and well-being.
The following 10 step can begin your journey:
- Review available information on holistic or integrative strategies for health improvement or illness recovery.
I encourage you to seek more information. Participate in making choices in any areas concerning your health, especially when there are needs for treatment or intervention. Being proactively involved is essential to improving your health.
Find educational materials or services that may be available from either your current health care providers or in your community. Other sources of information may be from trusted and reliable media sources as the Internet, blog sites, or from printed materials.
- Choose preferably Integrative Medicine, Psychology, Psychiatry, or Holistic Therapy Programs.
Get the help you need. Consultations with other medical or health care practitioners especially those with a more holistic and integrative orientation are recommended.
Rather than a narrow focus, addressing only a few symptoms or one aspect of the entire person— an active, validating, caring, and holistic approach helps the whole person. Selection of a broader, integrative program is essential, in my opinion, for optimal progress and improvement. Click on the following: Integrative psychiatry, medicine, and holistic therapies
- Be open and receptive to integrative care that looks at underlying causes, triggers, and risk factors.
The goal would be to eliminate or reduce any contributors that interfere with you being successful with your health and well-being goals.
Significant, “co-occurring” problems in your current life or from unresolved past issues, if unrecognized, may interfere with your health recovery or with your ability to make progress towards your health goals.Some areas that may be missed or ignored, in your health care evaluations or program, that may need attention, are:
- interpersonal conflicts, recent divorce, or failed relationships
- stress overload
- lack of skills as with planning and time management
- job, career loss, or a financial crisis
- a move or loss of home
- the death of a significant other or loved one
- auto accidents, recent surgery, or hospitalization for a serious illness or injury history, history of other traumas, traumatic stress disorder symptoms, traumatic brain injuries
- early life abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, rape
- emotional or mental health issues as anxiety, panic, fatigue, depression, bipolarity, ADHD, obsessive-compulsive problems, developmental issues, Asperger’s
- drug, alcohol abuse, or addictions
- eating disorders and obesity
- unrecognized health and illness related problems
- Choose natural alternatives and a healthier lifestyle, as this is often the better and safer choice for you to reach your goals.
Embracing a healthy lifestyle will decrease health problems and offers you the opportunity for improved health and longevity. Awareness and support of the mind, body and spiritual dimensions are essential for wellness, healing, and prevention of illness.
Receive the benefit of support from a holistic practitioner, a group, an educational program, a teacher, or a coach. You are entitled to have the guidance and services needed to feel better and to do better!
- Begin a healthy diet and nutrition. Choose:
- more whole and plant-based foods
- organic foods when possible
- avoid process foods with sugar and chemical additives
- eat vegetables, beans, whole grains (preferably gluten free), greens, fruits, nuts, healthy fats (as avocado, olive oil, fats in nuts and seeds)
- if not vegetarian, when possible, choose organic, free range chicken, beef, or fish from a healthy ocean or natural unpolluted water source
Get advice from a holistically oriented nutritionist or health coach. Instead of using prescription and over-the-counter medications which are frequently used to treat symptoms – when drugs are not indicated (check with your holistic health care provider first) – consider natural alternatives and the taking of nutritional supplements such as vitamins, minerals, digestive enzymes, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and herbs. Research first and get good advice from a trusted resource or a holistic health care provider.
- Exercise is crucial in maintaining health and promoting wellness and illness recovery.
Different types of exercise are encouraged per preferences and ability. Extensive research on exercise has confirmed its value in reducing risks of:
- heart disease
- mood disturbance
- stress and sleep related illness
Only exercise to your capacity. If you are just not sure where to start or if there is any potential for stroke, heart attack, or other adverse consequences — get an exercise prescription or advice from a health care provider or a personal trainer.
A variety of exercises in your program will give you the best overall training effect and prevent boredom:
- walking, running, biking, and hiking
- weight training
- dancing, aerobic classes
- tennis and other individual or team sports
Any active movement is helpful and beneficial. There are calming, stress reducing, focusing exercises — like meditation, which can be a fantastic addition to you and your program.
- Optimize and improve your poor sleep or insomnia.
Avoid getting into sleep debt or sleep deprivation (not getting enough sleep). Sleep disturbances have been associated with significant medical problems:
- poor work, and school performance
- mood disturbances
A good start is to reduce stress, over-stimulation, and activity overload. Do meditative or deep relaxation exercises. Improve moods, reduce anxiety and worry. If there is significant mood or anxiety problems, see an appropriate healthcare professional or therapist for assessment and treatment if indicated. See Dr. Parks’ articles at http://ronparksmd.com/ on related topics. If daytime sleepiness or history of loud snoring occurs, see a sleep specialist — as a sleep disorder as sleep apnea may need to be recognized and treated. See, Sleep Disorder article.
- Have a thorough evaluation by an integrative healthcare provider if there is any possibility of other hidden health issues.
These may compromise your recovery or interfere with reaching your health goals. Sometimes imbalances in the body can result in illness or health compromise. Lab work or testing may be indicated as diagnostic tests for:
- allergies, anemia, diabetes, heart disease, infection
- hormonal imbalances as found in thyroid, adrenal, ovarian, or testicular problems
- auto-immune or inflammatory illness
- early cancer
- nutritional status tests for deficiencies in vitamins minerals
- elimination diets or digestion function tests
- Check out for environmental factors that may play a role in health and disease.
Overload, sensitivities, or reactivity, to or with toxic environmental substances and chemicals can impair health or hinder recovery. These may be present in air, chemical fumes (perfumes, pesticides, industrial chemicals), soil contamination, or in use of certain pesticides or food additives. There is a growing concern about the use of genetically modified foods. Visit American Academy of Environmental Medicine.
Other toxic situations may be the lack of a quiet sleep or rest place, excessive electronic or radio-frequency disturbances and exposure (TV, radios, cell phones, microwave).
Consult with reliable sources of information and with an integrative health care provider who has expertise in the areas of environmental health.
- Recognize the importance of spirituality in your life.
Study, reflect and apply the wisdom from the great world spiritual, religious philosophies, and practices. Allow your personal faith to be an important part of your transformation into a more positive state of health, well-being, and illness recovery.
When stuck, for example, in states of depression or despondency — when traditional mental health service used alone have not helped — surrounding oneself with an inspirational support group can bring about a release from stifling patterns of personal thoughts and beliefs. Shifts can occur towards a better emotional and spiritual attunement and adjustment to life’s demands and conflicts.
Positive outcomes happen in many different types of religious or spiritually oriented support or practice groups. Finding healthy activities – that bring joy, purpose, fulfillment, meaning, and gratification to your daily lives – can open the doors of the spirit and promote health.
QUESTION – COMMENTS:
What would your first step be to improve your health or recovery?