Enhancing Holistic Health & Happiness
By Lisa Johnson
As a psychologist, I support people to enhance their holistic health and happiness in ways that are manageable, sustainable and empowering. The overarching key to this, I believe, is to use a holistic approach that is preventative and health-promoting.
Enhancing health and wellbeing preventatively and in health-promoting ways versus crisis care is essential. Crisis care is short-term and short-lived, unfulfilling, usually expensive and often painful. Exploring and improving your health and wellbeing holistically has many positive outcomes. These include gaining results in a quicker and easier manner that isn’t as restrictive and reactive.
The simplest model to achieve holistic health – I discovered over two years ago. You are what you eat, what you think/feel, and what you physically do/behave. However, from my research and training in individual, occupational and organisational health, I have expanded the model. The Five Elements Model consists of nutritional, psychological, physical, social engagement and professional. I also included a sixth element which for some isn’t essential, although for many and according to research having a spiritual connection, belief, religion, or practice is beneficial for your health.
When considering your nutritional wellbeing, you also need to consider chemical aspects
“You are what you eat”. Whole food eating is a great start. An idea to consider is to spend more of your investment in the fruit and vegetable shops and less in the supermarkets. The supermarkets invest in marketing agents to emotionally manipulate you into buying generally unhealthy and processed foods. I jokingly say purchase food that has had the least amount of interactions with humans and technology. Sounds purist, but the less number of people that have handled the food you buy (processing, packaging, storing, preserving), the better quality of the food and it’s better for the environment too. It’s becoming common knowledge that good gut and digestive health is essential for wellbeing. However, less is expressed how emotional stress, anxiety, or depression compromises gut health. Basically, these stressed states activate your sympathetic nervous system. The primitive adrenal response of flight, fright or freeze – which is a survival response that reduces digestive function even when you have consumed the healthiest of foods.
The physical element includes your structural health and the amount of activity/movement/exercise in your life.
Your posture and ergonomics also need consideration; for instance, a sedentary lifestyle and sitting within the workplaces are being linked to significant health risks. Exercise is more than attending a fitness class. It needs to include movement that is supportive and adaptive to your unique and evolving needs. Research is starting to support the concept that being active throughout the day is essential, not just a few blocks per week. The health benefits of exercising are immense and include increases in endorphins, relieving for depression, stress, anxiety and muscle tension. I have my own bias here, and I believe the best exercises are ones that support the links between physical movement and emotional/psychological wellbeing. Such practices could include yoga, tai chi and martial arts.
Psychological wellbeing can include many things, and these can significantly enhance or hamper your wellbeing.
Below are some of the aspects that need consideration. The temperament you’ve been born with, your levels of optimism, gratitude and resilience. The childhood living environment, levels of nurturing, stability, love, unconditional positive regard from your caregivers are essential. Relationships with your parents/caregivers, siblings and peers can also influence your identity, self-confidence and psychological wellbeing. Various chapters in your life
are important as well: education, career/employment, intimate relationships, peers and social connections.
Social connectedness and feelings of belongingness are essential for well-being.
Whether you are an introverted or an extroverted person, having strong social connections or feeling part of something outside of your own company has excellent benefits for your health. Contributing something to your community, workplace or people in need can help you feel more socially connected and accepted. It can increase your levels of self-worth self-esteem and, strengthen your identity and make you feel like you belong, are supported, and are less alone.
For most people, their work/profession/career can be a crucial contributor to wellbeing and happiness.
Having confidence in your work, feeling appreciated and respected by your manager or peers can significantly enhance your wellbeing. High levels of work satisfaction and fulfilment and being celebrated for your individual contribution and offerings in your workplaces can improve your health. Aspects such as role clarity, work-life balance, support, training and supervision, and working for an organisation that aligns with your personal values, skills, strengths and attributes are essential. It can significantly enhance feelings of workplace engagement and fulfilment, all of which protect you against burnout job stress and help you cope with the demands of your job.
The sixth element that is the centre of wellbeing and happiness is the spiritual element.
For a spiritual/religious person, it might offer you a regular practice, a source of guidance or a purpose. Having a solid spiritual connection can create a great sense of comfort, satisfaction and assurance. It can also have connective substantial power that brings people together on a regular basis and offers people a sense of commonality, something to share, discuss, guide and feel a part of. Many people turn to this support when they are feeling sad or alone. Spirituality is an individual choice, and with respect, I believe each person is entitled to and should be encouraged to make their own decisions around their sense of spirituality/religion or spiritual connection. For some people, it isn’t an integral part of their well-being.
ASAMI APPROACH OF ENGAGEMENT PSYCHOLOGY
Lisa is the director of Asami Engagement Psychology that supports individuals, families, communities and organisations with enhancing their fulfilment and wellbeing. I help people to enhance their most important asset, their health and to ensure their relationship, lifestyle, or employment isn’t damaging it. I believe that you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your health and happiness to earn a living or have a fulfilling life. Barriers to your wellbeing are diverse – work life/balance, time management, work dynamics/conflict, relationships, parenting, self-confidence, mental health, physical fatigue & emotional exhaustion. Asami offers a supportive and strategic approach by completing a holistic assessment
of what is impacting your health and happiness. Because healthy people lead to healthier families and workplaces, and therefore healthier and more active communities and society. And the best part is, my unique process is achievable and sustainable with manageable and straightforward steps.
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