Holistic approaches to healthcare and well-being have surged in popularity in recent years. To some, they may remain a mystery. In today's blog, we unpack a few types of holistic practices, and how they could work for you.
What is it?
The word Holistic actually means something defined by the idea that ‘all parts should be treated as one’. In terms of medicine, this means considering mental and social factors as well as physical symptoms.
How can it help us?
Professional life is possibly busier than ever. Senior positions especially tend to mean that work permeates much of our lives. Whether you’re someone that thrives on this or not, when we put constant demand on our bodies and minds it’s important to rebalance, rest and reset.
Holistic remedies can tap into our psychological and emotional condition as well as treat the physical symptoms of stress, burnout or fatigue, and serve as a necessary reminder to check in with ourselves.
So, what are the top holistic practices being adopted today? How do they work? And could they be useful remedies for burnout, stress, and other issues associated with a busy professional lifestyle?
Here are some examples:
The physical benefits of yoga align, relax and tone the body without rigorous exercise. If you don’t have the time, inclination, or energy left at the end of the day to run a marathon, you can still hop into something comfy and spend twenty minutes on the mat to nourish your muscles and joints. Stretching alone can be an antidote to the discomfort and stiffness we experience from poor posture at our desks.
Yoga is also known to boost respiration, energy and vitality, giving you an extra boost of focus when you do get back to the office. It can also be a gentle way to boost metabolism and lose weight, supporting your general health in the background. A good foundation allows you to go about your busy schedule without risk to your well-being.
Another benefit of yoga comes from spending a set amount of time in your own company, finding stillness and emptying your mind. The busier we are, the harder it can be to process our thoughts; meditating can be a challenge when you are juggling tasks and projects, but movement can help us to focus on the present moment.
As touched on above, this is not always as easy as it might look. But when we view meditation as a skill to learn, rather than something that just ‘doesn’t work’ for some people, it can become a tool to combat stress and fend off burnout.
By simply putting your tasks aside, focusing on your breath, allowing the mind to wander and gently drawing it back to a place of quiet, you can gain many benefits. These include stress management skills, increased self-awareness, reduced negative emotions, releasing creativity and cultivating patience and tolerance.
Acupuncture is a practice from traditional Chinese medicine; it involves inserting very thin needles into the body at strategic points. Though it can sound or look daunting for anyone unfamiliar with the practice, acupuncture is not painful and has been commonly used to treat pain and overall wellness, including stress management, for thousands of years.
If you find that it works for you, acupuncture can be an effective and efficient way to manage the stress of your daily life and career, before they get out of control.
Reiki is an energy healing technique that aims to restore balance and wellness to the body, mind and spiritual self.
Clinical studies have not proven the effectiveness of Reiki, but practitioners, as well as those who have benefitted from Reiki worldwide, suggest that it can reduce stress, improve overall health and even accelerate our healing process.
According to Medical News Today, “The word ''Reiki” comes from the Japanese words “rei,” meaning universal, and “ki,” meaning life energy.”
The core idea is that energy can stagnate in the body as a result of injury or emotional pain, and these blockages cause illness. By moving the hands over a client's body and using light touch, Reiki practitioners aim to restore flow via energy transfer.
Breathwork is a discipline, a therapy and a treatment for common issues. It’s more than just breathing correctly, it can also help you improve respiration, and find an optimum technique for sport or exercise.
Deep breathing can have immediate calming effects; it halts our fight or flight response by reversing the chemical process that happens when we panic or hyperventilate, reducing the cortisol and adrenaline that are released.
Breathwork can also support meditation. Deep, long breaths (remember the mantra ‘low and slow’) can help to clear the mind and bring a state of calm, which may be especially useful for those who suffer from anxiety.
One more benefit: Breathwork can help you sleep better. The same technique of slow breathing is thought to be more effective than ‘counting sheep’ to settle you into a state of rest.
Ultimately, whether you believe that holistic practices like these can work miracles or not, it’s all about finding something that works for you and integrating it into your routine as a form of self-care and rejuvenation. This can be especially useful to reset the balance of a demanding lifestyle or career.
For more mental health resources, check out our free Mental Health in the Workplace handbook, available to download now.