Holistic Living

Health and Well-Being: Important Components of Holistic Living

Overcoming addiction is one of the greatest accomplishments a person can achieve. As the process of maintaining lifelong recovery begins, the initial emphasis is on learning to handle life stresses without relapse by being aware of personal triggers. With the help and encouragement of a positive support network, the recovering individual eventually develops a strong foundation for sober holistic living.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet is important to achieving and maintaining emotional wellness; an important part of being sober. In addition to avoiding triggers and behaviors that can lead to relapse into drug or alcohol addiction, those in recovery can also work toward establishing a more holistic lifestyle that encourages the development of a healthy body and mind. But wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle and knowing how to do it is completely different. This guide can be used to gain greater understanding into the different components of holistic living, while providing practical methods to develop a more holistic lifestyle.

Understanding Holistic Living

  • What Does “Holistic” Mean? According to Professor Patel Krishna, the definition of holistic living is a bit different for each individual. The variations of physical and mental health, spiritual life, service and emotional well-being change to suit each individual and bring him or her harmony and well-being that allows them to work toward happy, harmonious living. Each person benefits by addressing their life as the sum of the whole, instead of dividing it into parts. It is the establishment of well-being in each area that brings a person’s life into balance and helps them reap the benefits of holistic living. Although it is a process, many changes will result in quick, noticeable differences.
  • Different Components of Holistic Living. People often confuse holistic living with Holistic Livinghealthy living. Although holistic living is healthy living, healthy living isn’t always conducted holistically. Healthy living generally focuses on diet and exercise…two very important components of holistic living. Whereas holistic living includes diet, exercise and an eye on health, but also encompasses other areas of a person’s life, such as spirituality, mental and emotional health, and service. When tended to simultaneously, these different components help the individual achieve balance in life, experience peace and feel a greater sense of well-being. Holistic living also helps those practicing it feel a greater connection to the world around them. All of these different components can be instrumental in turning around the life of a recovering addict.
  • Is it Too Late to Get Started? Making changes can be difficult even when a person is motivated to make them, according to Harvard Medical School. Even so, it’s never too late to work toward living a more holistic life. People that have age or health-related concerns may have to work with a doctor or counselor to determine the safest way to make changes. Once this is done, slow changes can be introduced into the person’s lifestyle. A person’s current state of health and well-being can also play a role in their readiness to take on a great deal of change. As a rule of thumb, small achievable changes that lead to feelings of success will encourage the incorporation of additional holistic changes.
  • How to Get Started. Florida International University states that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. This can be encouraging news for those who are trying to make changes toward holistic living and worry that the changes may be too difficult to continue daily. A person wishing to live more holistically should start by introducing one or two new changes and stick with them long enough to allow them to develop into habits. Although the complete transition will take longer this way, it’s a better setup for long-term success. Attempting to overhaul one’s life overnight can lead to frustration and defeat. Therefore, to get started and stick with it, it’s better to start slowly and progress from there.

Learn More about the Different Components

Holistic LivingAs a person works toward achieving a more holistic life, he or she will find a balance among the different components. Each person’s balance is different as it must be created in accordance to that individual’s personality, as well as their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Learning more about each of these components can provide individuals with the knowledge needed to begin making effective changes.

The Mental Component of Holistic Living

  • Gaining a Better Understanding. An important part of living a holistic life is being of sound mind, finds George Mason University. When a person reaches bottom while engaging in alcohol or drug abuse, mental health is often something that has suffered greatly under the side effects caused by the substance. The achievement of a more balanced and positive mental health state helps balance out other areas of life as well. Strengthening mental health allows the person to express feelings in a healthier way, focus on daily tasks, and deal with stress without developing feelings of anxiety or depression.
  • What an Imbalanced Version of this Component Looks Like. An unbalanced or weakened state of mental health causes a magnification of small stressors. Challenges that most people would tackle head-on feel overwhelming. Untreated mental illness can impair a person’s thought and problem-solving processes, which further exacerbates stress. Struggling with imbalance in the mental area of holistic living will most certainly impact the other areas because the ability to think clearly and objectively plays a large role in controlling emotions and using them to promote and maintain well-being. When a person recovers from drug or alcohol addiction, one of the first areas in which they may experience improvement is in their mental health due to improvements in clear thinking.
  • What a Healthy Version of this Component Looks Like. George Mason University explains that holistic health encourages soundness of mind, but what exactly is that? A person who’s successfully working toward holistic living in this area recognizes personal distress signals early on so problems can be dealt with before they become overwhelming. He or she makes time to talk to people about problems, ideas and achievements, and sound judgment and clear thinking help this person navigate through different situations, experiences and feelings he or she encounters over the course of a day.
  • Practical Ways to Improve in this Area. Learning how to handle disagreements respectfully and efficiently can assist a person in improving this area of holistic health. Because one of the goals of balanced mental health is harmony and peace, it’s also important to gain a strong sense of self-awareness that allows the person to step back from emotions and look at a life situation objectively. Counseling and participation in spiritual endeavors are effective for improving this area. Additionally, learning to be honest with oneself about feelings and thoughts can help strengthen mental health. When mental illness is a factor that’s throwing one’s mental health off balance, appropriate treatments should be included in a person’s efforts toward holistic living. All of these aspects work together to allow an individual to form a realistic view of his or her life, while providing the ability to make choices that have a positive impact on one’s mental health.

The Emotional Health Component

  • Gaining a Better Understanding. Emotional health is a tricky area for many people to keep in balance. Those who have Holistic Livingdifficulty controlling their emotions can find their lives ruled by them. When an individual is working toward holistic living in the area of emotions, he or she wants to reach a state of balance where they can be used to promote optimism, rather than perpetuating negative emotional states. The point of achieving emotional holistic health isn’t to avoid emotions, but to learn how to view and use them in more positive ways.
  • What an Imbalanced Version of this Component Looks Like. An imbalanced state of emotional health can create a great deal of stress and difficulty in a person’s life, asserts Princeton University. Feelings of anxiety can lead to frustration and depression. As these feelings continue they can affect the person physically, causing headaches, stomach aches, shortness of breath and sleep issues. The vicious cycle that ensues is a dangerous one for recovering addicts, and a solid support network can be instrumental in working through trigger situations without relapse. If imbalance in the area of emotions continues, it can impact a person’s relationships by increasing the propensity toward conflict or avoidance, and feelings of anger or bitterness. It’s easy to see how lacking in this area can cause a snowball effect that impacts other areas of an individual’s life.
  • What a Healthy Version of this Component Looks Like. It is human nature to have positive and negative emotions. Having negative emotions isn’t unhealthy; it’s the way in which they are handled that is healthy or unhealthy. Someone who is emotionally healthy recognizes the emotional responses they have, as well as those of other people around them. They are also able to pause for a moment and analyze the emotion to determine whether it’s one that’s productive or unproductive. Being able to do this can help a person put a stop to runaway negative emotions, while capitalizing on the productive nature of positive emotions.
  • Practical Ways to Improve in this Area. According to Dr. Gene Ebner, a licensed psychologist, many people suffer from impaired emotional health due to the fact that they spend so much time worrying about the future. Although it’s important to be prepared for the future, holistic living encourages living in the moment. Once a person has done all they can to take care of important life circumstances and responsibilities, he or she can work toward living in the moment by engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation, massage or yoga. Shifting the focus to the positive and expressing gratitude for what one has, rather than ruminating on what one doesn’t have, can also help the individual live in the moment.

The Physical Health Component of Holistic Living

Holistic LivingThe most effective way to work toward improving the physical aspect of holistic living is to break it down into three sub-components that all work together to promote good health. A person’s eating and exercise habits, as well as overall physical health all play a role in the achievement of balance in this area. Since these areas go hand-in-hand, small changes in one area can also have a positive impact in the others.


  • Gaining a Better Understanding. Many of us have heard the phrase “you are what you eat.” The food that goes into an individual’s body impacts their physical health, which in turn has an impact on emotional health. Nowadays, it’s common to indulge in convenient foods that provide instant taste gratification without much thought to their long-term impact. The result is an obesity epidemic in the United States, finds the Mayo Clinic. Healthy eating can help a person wishing to live holistically achieve balance in many areas of his or her life.
  • What an Imbalanced Version of this Component Looks Like. Most people can identify the outward physical signs of unhealthy eating habits. In addition to excess weight gain, poor eating habits can cause a person to look haggard and experience other age-accelerating affects. As unhealthy eating continues, the person’s health will be compromised as he or she faces a higher risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and other weight-related illnesses. From here, the snowball effect takes hold as sickness leads to anxiety, depression and worry. Although a little splurge in the diet once in a while isn’t a problem for most, eating habits that lead to compromised health can throw an individual’s entire life off-kilter.
  • What a Healthy Version of this Component Looks Like. According to Kansas State University, the motive behind healthy eating is to fuel the body and mind for healthier, more positive living. Healthy eaters don’t eat to deal with emotions or stressors, but to provide their body with the energy and strength needed to progress through the day. Foods and beverages are carefully selected to provide enjoyment and promote good health. When allergies or health issues dictate that certain foods be avoided, the healthy eater will pass on these foods and find better alternatives. Achieving balance in this area means that it’s necessary to eat mindfully, rather than engaging in the mindless eating habits many follow.
  • Practical Ways to Improve in this Area. Once a person knows if there are certain foods they must avoid due to health limitations, they can immediately make improvements in this area by avoiding them. As mentioned before, mindful eating is also important; this means turning off the television and spending time focusing on and enjoying the meal. By doing this, the food can be tasted and the mind can be alerted to the body’s signals that it’s full. To further improve eating habits, it’s wise to limit the amounts of fast food and processed food a person eats. Instead, Harvard Medical School suggests eating whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil, lean protein and low-fat dairy.

ExerciseHolistic Living

  • Gaining a Better Understanding. Exercising and movement of the body affects other areas of physical health, according to Grand Rapids Community College. Ideally, some form of exercise should be performed each day. Many people think of exercise as sports or classes that require time and energy that not everyone has. But even simple forms of daily exercise, such as gardening or playing with the children can help a person achieve good physical health as he or she strives toward holistic living. Holistic LivingA person’s ability to handle daily tasks, maintain a full range of movement and have enough energy for the day hinges on their level of physical health. Exercise plays a role in creating the best health possible for each person.
  • What an Imbalanced Version of this Component Looks Like. An imbalance in this area of physical health can be seen in the forms of low energy, a sedentary lifestyle and poor physical conditioning. When a person is in poor physical condition, he or she may experience pain or discomfort when engaging in normal, everyday activities. This can lead to having to opt out of enjoyable activities or take a pass on spending time with family and friends. A person in this position might decide to start exercising but give up quickly if it seems too hard or results aren’t experienced quickly enough. Eventually, lack of physical activity begins to negatively impact other areas of life, as well.
  • What a Healthy Version of this Component Looks Like. A healthy attitude toward and enjoyment of exercise leads to feeling motivated to engage in physical activity because of the benefits it brings. Exercise is viewed as a normal part of the day and is missed when it has to be skipped. When an individual engages in exercise, he or she strengthens the mind-body connection that promotes good mental and physical health. Rather than feeling like a chore, exercise is enjoyed, and it provides benefits such as improved health and appearance, increased range of movement and a raised level of energy. In holistic living, exercise may be conducted alone or with others to enjoy the social aspect of physical activity.
  • Practical Ways to Improve in this Area. Anyone planning to introduce exercise and increased physical activity into their lifestyle should receive health clearance from a doctor first. After that, it’s important to participate in forms of exercise that are enjoyable and interesting to the participant, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s best to start slow and allow the body to build up stamina, endurance and strength. Walking or bicycle riding are two activities most every person can do. Although Harvard Medical School recommends exercising for at least 30 minutes per day to achieve good heart health, even starting with 10 minutes per day can provide benefits. The key is in finding an activity that’s enjoyable so the person will be motivated to stick with it for the long-run.

Good Health

  • Gaining a Better Understanding. Good physical health and wellness is, in part, achieved through healthy eating and Good Healthexercise, states the University of Southern Mississippi. The achievement of physical health in holistic living greatly impacts all other aspects of the individual’s life. If exercise and healthy eating are a regular part of a person’s lifestyle and that person still has physical health issues, it’s still possible to reach a state of wellness. Some people seek traditional medical treatment, while others find the solutions they need through alternative medicine. What’s important is making the effort to enjoy the best possible physical health a person can by seeking healthcare when it’s needed.
  • What an Imbalanced Version of this Component Looks Like. Addiction has a negative impact on the drug or alcohol abuser’s physical health. Through treatment and recovery, physical health issues can be addressed and treated properly. Similar to other forms of illness, addiction compromises a person’s well-being, taking the focus off health and placing it onto the addiction. Even small addictions, such as tobacco use, coffee drinking or being a junk food junkie can cause an imbalance in physical health and place a person at a higher risk for serious illness. Before he or she knows it, his or her entire life is thrown out of whack by the attention demanded by the small addictions.
  • What a Healthy Version of this Component Looks Like. Living holistically helps people to reach the highest state of physical health possible for them. Although there are seldom magic bullet cures for illness and physical health issues, the collective efforts that make up holistic living provide positive effects to improve health. At its peak, the life of a person living holistically is free of small addictions, such as tobacco, food addiction or addiction to caffeine. If medicine, traditional treatment or alternative remedies are needed to maintain a balanced state of physical health, they are utilized regularly and responsibly as part of the path to physical wellness. But, as suggested by the University of Washington, medicine is not viewed as the be-all and end-all of health issues. Rather, it’s used in conjunction with healthy eating, exercise and other positive health habits.
  • Practical Ways to Improve in this Area. To effectively address health issues that prevent a person from reaching optimum physical wellness, he or she must first know what the health issues are. For this reason, it’s important to have a good relationship with a health practitioner so expert advice can be obtained to learn how to achieve the best health possible. Once health advice is given, it’s important to follow it as explained to reap the full benefits. An individual in recovery must use the life skills gained during treatment to avoid relapse into addiction. Likewise, a person who wants to overcome or learn how to best cope with physical health issues must be actively involved in following the expert advice of those who are treating them.

The Spiritual Component of Holistic Living

  • Gaining a Better Understanding. Although some enjoy a spiritual connection through organized religion, a specific church or religion is not necessary to improve the spiritual aspect of holistic living. Spirituality is about establishing a meaningful connection and relationship with something greater than one’s self, asserts Georgetown University. Attaining greater spiritual awareness in life helps provide guidance, gives life meaning and opens the individual’s eyes to the positives hidden within a challenging situation. Spirituality is encompassed in a person’s beliefs, attitude and thoughts.
  • What an Imbalanced Version of this Component Looks Like. An imbalance in spiritual wellness manifests itself in the mindset and attitude of each individual. When spirituality is lacking, the person finds that they lack purpose in life. They tend to drift from day-to-day, latching onto whatever purpose seems like a good idea at the time, and then soon ditching it when it fails to provide the meaning they’re searching for. Without spiritual balance, people also tend to feel disoriented and unmotivated in life, states psychologist John J. Pilch, almost as if they’ve lost their internal compass. Life isn’t as fulfilling as it can be and the person identifies that something is missing, but often does not know what that “something” is.
  • What a Healthy Version of this Component Looks Like. A balanced spiritual life in holistic living provides a person Naturalwith purpose and meaning that drives the rest of their life. The connectedness to something greater than the individual helps them to reorient themselves in difficult situations, rather than feeling disoriented. Wellness spirituality identifies that the whole individual is much greater collectively than each aspect alone. Rather than engaging in behaviors and actions that are harmful, such as drug or alcohol abuse and small addictions, those working toward wellness spirituality seek out options that sustain and enrich their life. Doing so serves to deepen the spiritual connection the individual has established.
  • Practical Ways to Improve in this Area. Participating in organized religion is one way to strengthen spirituality, but it’s not the only way. In the early stages of developing one’s spiritual life, creating relationships and connections with like-minded people is important. The support provided serves as guidance while the individual explores different options to see what resonates with him or her. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, time spent in prayer or meditation strengthens spirituality while also providing the benefit of physical health improvements. Similar to many other new habits and lifestyle changes, becoming more spiritual takes practice. Although some experience “awakenings” and feel changed overnight, most people grow spiritually as the result of consistent practice and participation throughout their lifetime.
The Service Component
  • Gaining a Better Understanding. By now, it may be clear that the underlying theme of holistic living is wellness of the Natural Lifestyleindividual in conjunction to the world around him or her. Just as a person’s health does not stand alone against all the other aspects of holistic living, the individual is not separate from the rest of the world. Developing an attitude of service is an important part of living holistically as it completes the connection begun by all the other components, allowing people to help one another in their efforts to achieve balance and wellness. Service to others comes in many forms and its purpose is to bring joy and meaning to both the receiver and the giver.
  • What an Imbalanced Version of this Component Looks Like. Lack of service or lacking a mindset of service causes a great imbalance as the scales tip toward self-centeredness. Focusing solely on one’s self is occasionally necessary, but doing so at the expense of service cuts the connection to the outside world, causes the person to lose important guidance and leading to a focus on negativity. The strong disconnect that results negatively impacts other areas of holistic living, such as emotional health, spirituality and mental health. Since the act of giving is beneficial to both parties involved, the lack of it leaves a void where those benefits would normally be.
  • What a Healthy Version of this Component Looks Like. The point of holistic living is balance, so it’s vital to balance self-care with service. Acts of service should never come at the expense of self, but rather serve to be an extension of self-care. People who have been in recovery for years often give back by lending support to individuals who are new to sober living. Doing so allows them to strengthen their skills while benefiting others. A healthy participation in service-related activities helps people feel good, strengthening emotional and mental health, and assists a person in develop a healthy social life. Although the purpose of volunteering or giving back is to reach out to others, that which is given often ends up coming back to the giver, as well.
  • Practical Ways to Improve in this Area. There are many ways to become involved in acts of service that help others and enrich the individual’s life at the same time. Most people find they enjoy making a commitment to service when it taps into their strengths or interests. A person who’s artistic may enjoy volunteering to teach art classes at a local community center. Someone who used to be a teacher might like to read stories to children at the library or a local hospital. Becoming involved in serving others does not require a commitment of large amounts of time. It’s not necessarily the amount of time or money given that makes a difference, but the amount of heart that goes into giving.
Putting it All Together and Applying it Toward Your Life

Attempting to completely change one’s life overnight can cause unnecessary stress, leaving the person feeling like they cannot manage a holistic lifestyle. But similar to the slow, steady progress made when recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, small changes in the lifestyle can have a positive impact. Rather than approaching lifestyle changes with an all-or-nothing mindset, it’s better to make a couple changes at a time and wait for them to become habit before making more.

The best way to use the information provided in this eBook and apply it to life is to begin by focusing on areas that need the improvement most. Some areas may require little improvement, while others might benefit from many changes. Likewise, an individual’s doctor, counselor or mentor may have identified some areas that are important to work on right away. By taking all these thoughts into consideration, the best decision can be made to determine where to start.

Living holistically is a lifelong process just like sober living. Rather than being a destination a person arrives at, it’s a journey that will be altered and modified as needed along the way. Over the course of that journey, this guide can be revisited to help the reader determine which areas have become unbalanced and how to return them to a more balanced state. Although holistic living may feel like an effort initially, the rewards of allowing changes to develop into habits will filter through life, bringing with them peace, health and happiness that wasn’t known before.

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