When medical professionals consider holistic wellness, they look at the patient as a whole, rather than simply through the lens of a particular condition. By looking at their physical, emotional, social, spiritual and intellectual condition, they can gain insights into how they should be treated and be given the appropriate advice on how to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Many healthcare professionals work exclusively on particular conditions, becoming experts in that field. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are nurses who take a holistic approach, working with a patient as a whole, often treating whole families at all stages of their lives. To become an FNP, you first need to become a registered nurse (RN), and it is recommended to work as an RN for at least two years before embarking on further study to become an FNP.
There are many courses available to train as an FNP, including master’s, post-graduate and doctoral, with the rise of high-quality online courses making it easily accessible to all. When choosing a course with a view to becoming an FNP, make sure that it covers the holistic approach you will need. A good example of this is the online holistic FNP program at Texas Woman’s University. Focusing on all-encompassing patient care, clinical reasoning, advanced clinical expertise, critical thinking and professional growth, this course prepares students to develop a compassionate, multifaceted approach to their patients as they learn how the following areas of holistic health are treated.
Physical health is a part of wellness that is often confused simply with health. If we are unwell or injured, we feel it in some way in our physical bodies, and the treatments are physical through drugs, physical therapy or surgery, or self-help techniques such as resting the physical body or reducing a particular component of a diet. The advice given to maintain physical health will include aspects such as good diet, exercise and sufficient sleep, while avoiding smoking or too much alcohol, all of which will help keep the body in the best shape.
With the preoccupation with physical health, many neglect their emotional health. Poor emotional health can also manifest in physical symptoms or reveal itself emotionally with poor behavior patterns. Treatments that might be suggested include therapy and mindfulness. Techniques to reduce stress might also be suggested, such as keeping a journal to record thoughts of feelings can give valuable insights into emotional health.
People are usually at their happiest knowing that they have a community they can count on, with loneliness having a serious effect on wellbeing. For many people, these connections are through family or friends. Virtual communication has allowed us to remain connected even if being physically together is not possible, but it should not replace physical communication. If you are suffering socially, it might be suggested that you become more active in your community – for example, through your church or religious center, or through volunteering in local organizations. You could also take up a new hobby as a good way to meet like-minded people.
However, being socially active can also cause problems, with not everyone having a positive impact on your wellbeing. Setting boundaries is important to protect yourself from negative influences, and support can be offered to help you walk away from unhealthy relationships and friendships.
Spiritual wellness is not the same as religion but involves being connected to the inner self and the greater world. For some people, their religious practices may be the most effective way of boosting their spiritual wellness. However, if you are not religious, you should still find ways to look after yourself spiritually. Meditation for a few minutes each day is a good way of boosting your spiritual wellbeing. Alternatively, simply being in the great outdoors, taking a walk to enjoy the beauties of nature, can provide a similar boost.
Mental health does have some overlap with the other holistic areas, particularly emotional health. However, poor mental welling tends to have more of an effect on cognitive abilities and brain functions. Treating mental health also overlaps with other areas. A nutritious diet, avoiding recreational drugs or too much alcohol, will help, as will spending time meditating, immersed in nature or on a pastime you enjoy. Additionally, problem-solving activities that challenge the brain or learning something new will help keep cognitive abilities well exercised.
For holistic wellness, it is important to consider all areas to avoid missing issues. By treating the person as a whole, you stand the best chance of achieving wellbeing in all areas.