What is ‘Holistic Health’ & why are GPs recommending it as a way to combat stress?
As the world of wellness continues to boom, more people than ever, both women and men, young and old and from all walks of life are turning to mind and body classes, therapies and apps offering the likes of yoga, mindfulness, and natural remedies as a means to counter stress and restore inner balance.
And with the spotlight shining ever brighter on the issue of mass over-prescription of common drugs including painkillers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills and their associated side effects, the need for non-pharma alternatives has never been more significant.
The good news is that GPs are increasingly recommending more holistic routes such as osteopathy, talking therapies and even naturopathy to help their patients manage pain and injury, overcome depression or anxiety, aid sleep and improve general health. So, what exactly does the word holistic mean? And why is this more integrated approach gaining ground?
As defined by the Cambridge dictionary, ‘holistic’ means “dealing with or treating the whole of something or someone and not just a part”. Seed is just one of a growing number of companies offering this all-encompassing, ‘body-mind’ approach to health and wellbeing.
Seed’s GP, Ashvy Bhardwaj, has been incorporating functional medicine into her practise for the past 7 years. Said Ashvy, “I spent many years prescribing medication to my sick patients. However, over time I realised that just treating the symptoms wasn’t working.
“I began to look instead at the whole picture of the person, from their lifestyle to their emotional health to help me better identify why they were becoming ill in the first place so I could treat from there. The results were immediate and significant.”
The link between body and mind
Research is increasingly showing a link between stress and a range of health issues from insomnia and digestive issues to more severe conditions such as hypertension and heart disease. Many studies have concluded the same thing – that the stress response throws the whole human system out of balance and subsequently we are more prone to illness.
So how does this work?
When the stress response is triggered, the body goes into “fight or flight” mode, instantly releasing cortisol and adrenaline and triggering hormonal changes to help us react quickly and move out of harm’s way. Unfortunately, the body can overreact to stressors that are not life-threatening such as traffic jams, work pressure, family issues and our increasingly fast-paced lifestyles.
Over the years, researchers have gained insight into the long-term effects chronic stress has on both physical and psychological health, concluding that the repeated activation of the stress response takes its toll on the body, resulting in illness and even disease.
This includes raised blood pressure, heart disease, depression and addiction, inflammation (the basis for many illnesses), obesity and much more.
This research is continuing to highlight how each part of our human-ness, ie our bodies, our minds and our deeper ‘selves’, are interconnected and therefore we need to treat at all levels to aid true healing.
Said Sports Therapist, Phil Simmons, “Often I find that when I work on pain or injury with my clients, deeper emotions and even trauma start to surface. In certain cases, I will refer my patients to a counsellor who is more qualified to help them.”
Massage therapist, Charlotte Pearce, said, “Massage works on both a physical and emotional level. Tension stored in the muscles such as the back, neck, shoulders and even jaw is often due to stress and anxiety. It’s a classic case of our bodies speaking our minds.”
And Clinical Hypnotherapist, Debbie Milligan, said, “Many of my clients who come with an emotional pain or trauma are also dealing with some sort of physical problem such as back pain, recurring headaches and so on. Often as we delve a little deeper to process the emotional issues, we find that the physical symptoms presenting significantly diminish or even disappear.”
TREATING THE WHOLE
When it comes to bodywork, practitioners such as osteopaths, Bowen therapists, Myofascia and Sports therapists work on the idea of treating the body as one whole rather than working only on the site of pain. Said one friend who recently visited a Bowen therapist, “I hobbled in with a knee problem and she started working on my shoulder. As weird as it was, I walked out of the room and my knee pain was gone.”
So, rather than reaching for a quick fix in a prescribed pill, there are many other routes to explore that can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep and enhance health and wellbeing.
Said Ashvy, “If we wish to improve our quality of life, our health and our happiness long term, more often than not this is very achievable by making positive dietary and lifestyle changes, participating in activities that free our minds from daily pressures and trying more natural options that address the root cause of our health issues.”
Seed offers a range of holistic methods for relieving stress & anxiety as follows: