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Using The 8 Pillars Of Holistic Health To Reach Real Wellness

Written by: Mary Solis, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Mary Solis

Imagine waking up every morning feeling energized, with your mind clear and spirit uplifted, ready to take on the challenges of the day. If this sounds like your typical morning, then you’ve discovered how to achieve a healthy balance with your body, mind, and spirit (give yourself a well-deserved high five!).

shot of a relaxed senior woman preparing a cup of tea

However, for most of us, mornings like this are rare. If you’re like me constantly trying to meet the demands of the work day, fit in some exercise, reserve some time for R & R while still fighting off those stress-induced sugar cravings then you’re still trying to find that middle ground. That harmonized, balanced sweet spot where all aspects of yourself are fired up and in sync, making you the most productive, efficient, and happiest version of yourself. But let’s be honest, in the ever-changing, unpredictable real world, finding this balance is one thing; maintaining it is a whole different challenge altogether. I’m not here to give you that secret formula for health and wellness because, honestly, I can’t figure it out for you. It’s different for everyone and requires some trial and error on your part to achieve. Instead, I want to share a breakdown of the various aspects of ourselves and our lives worth examining on the journey to finding that healthy balance. It’s really the best way to go for optimal health and is essentially what holistic wellness is all about.


The 8 pillars of holistic health


Holistic healing is rooted in the eight foundational pillars of holistic health physical, mental, spiritual, social, environmental, occupational, financial, and intellectual well-being. It considers the whole person and provides a comprehensive approach to health and wellness, utilizing various holistic health modalities to create a personalized treatment plan unique to each individual’s situation. By acknowledging and nurturing each pillar individually and interconnectedly, holistic healing aims to achieve health and harmony by combining conventional medicine, nutrition, and complementary and alternative approaches to achieve overall well-being.

 

While we take a closer look at each of these pillars, be mindful of your thoughts and feelings to gauge how much (or how little) each pillar affects you. The pillar that has the most effect on your life and health is what we call your problem pillar. You may be able to identify your problem pillar right away, but some of us may need some assistance in identifying it.


It’s very possible to have more than one problem pillar, especially when their effects are very interconnected; however, it’s advisable to identify only ONE at a time to help you hone in on the most problematic area in your life. Once healing has taken place and your problem pillar is stronger, you’ll find it much easier to handle the others. We’ll talk about how to find your problem pillar a bit later, but for now, let’s explore the eight pillars of holistic health.

 

1. Physical health

 

Physical health focuses on maintaining a healthy body through exercise, nutrition, and self-care practices such as sleep and good hygiene. Taking care of your physical body results in a stronger immune system, reduced risk of chronic disease, and enhanced vitality. Physical health is the most often known and understood pillar because it’s the most readily observed, quantified, and studied, yet achieving top physical health is still difficult for most people. Why is this? For most people, it’s primarily because adopting healthy habits takes more than knowledge. It’s heavily interconnected to how we feel, what we believe, and what resources we have access to.

 

2. Mental and emotional health

 

I’m glad to say that mental and emotional health (especially after the pandemic) has had quite the spotlight (in a good way). While public stigma is decreasing as more people accept and understand the enormous impact mental health has on our well-being, it unfortunately doesn’t simplify this very complicated topic. The mental and emotional pillar is about understanding and managing emotions, promoting self-acceptance, and developing healthy coping mechanisms and self-expression. It involves being conscious about how things make you feel and think, and how you act on those thoughts and emotions. Ever heard of emotional intelligence? It’s a topic and skill that deserves more awareness. Our mental and emotional health (in my opinion) is the most complex and often most challenging to deal with because, unlike physical health, it’s all subjective and, although there are treatment guidelines to follow, effectiveness can vary quite a bit between individuals with the same condition.

 

3. Spiritual health

 

Spiritual health is one of those areas that I believe is most misunderstood and underestimated, probably because of the word “spiritual.” Most times, people associate being spiritual with religion, God, or other beliefs about an external, omnipotent being that has power over us and our lives. Yes, spirituality certainly does include religion and God, but for some, it can also mean just looking within yourself.


“Spirituality is about constantly coming back, looking inward, getting re-centered, and looking beyond ourselves” Krista Tippett

 

Some consider spiritual practice to involve how we treat others, living more consciously, and appreciating nature. Spiritual practice can look different and affect everyone in varying degrees depending on each person's definition and what role it plays in their lives. It involves connecting with a higher power or inner self, finding meaning and purpose in life, and cultivating inner peace and harmony regardless of cultural or religious beliefs. Connecting with something greater than oneself gives you a sense of meaning and purpose beyond the material world, while looking within provides heightened self-awareness, allowing you to understand your values, strengths, and desires, which helps you make more informed decisions and actions aligned with your authentic self. So Can Spirituality Exist Without God? I say Yes.

 

4. Social well-being

 

I can honestly say I’m an introvert to the core. I need my alone time to recharge, and I love the quiet that comes with solitude because it allows me to hear my thoughts and get more in touch with my inner self. As much as I enjoy my “ME time,” the benefits you get from social interactions are undeniable. Building strong social connections and maintaining healthy relationships foster a sense of belonging, support, and community and promote effective communication and empathy. We human beings are social creatures who thrive on connections with others. Social interactions and relationships allow us to learn more about ourselves, develop new skills, and grow (especially from those with different perspectives). Collectively, we find our sense of belonging, purpose, and support. Ultimately, our relationships shape and enrich our lives, and we react, adapt, and embrace the fullness of life because of these connections.

 

5. Intellectual health

 

Intellectual health refers to the state of our mind, our ability to think critically, and our capacity to learn and grow. Intellectual health is important because it allows us to gain knowledge, make informed decisions, and solve problems effectively. It also helps us to develop our creativity and imagination, which are essential for personal and professional growth. Tending to our intellectual health involves seeking new information and attempting mentally stimulating challenges, which enhances our cognitive abilities, expands our understanding, and ultimately leads to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

 

6. Occupational health

 

Since we spend most of our time at work, it’s important to feel fulfilled and establish a work-life balance. Occupational well-being is about doing work you find satisfying while getting adequately compensated without putting too much strain on your personal and home life. It can mean understanding that you’re making an impactful contribution to your company or industry and being valued and respected for what you do. This enhances productivity and performance, contributes to overall happiness and satisfaction in life, and reduces the risk of stress-related illnesses, which have unfortunately become too common. On another note, it’s important to point out that with constant changes in economies, industries, trends, and technology, it’s inevitable that companies will adjust and pivot to meet these changes. Therefore, we have to be flexible and adapt to making the necessary changes if our jobs can no longer serve us. Making these decisions is difficult and, at times, completely life-changing, especially when we’ve been in our professions for a long time. However, it’s important to realize the landscape of your current work situation and to assess (for your health and wellness sake) whether it’s time to take on something new.

 

7. Financial well-being

 

Ah, that dreaded topic finances. For most of us, achieving financial stability is difficult because of the complexities and regulations of finance, and the simple fact that everything costs way too much! With so much going on in our lives, being on top of your finances is difficult to keep up with, even with all the fancy finance tools out there. Because financial stress is one of the top issues most people face, it’s apparent that when this pillar is not optimized, it will profoundly impact the other pillars of health. So, it’s no surprise that achieving financial well-being and stability reduces stress levels, allowing us to focus on other aspects of life without constant worry about money. Achieving financial well-being takes discipline, knowledge, and practice. It involves living within your means and planning appropriately for the future. I know this is easier said than done, but if you start taking small steps towards managing your finances, budgeting and planning wisely, and building momentum for long-term goals, it will eventually lessen the financial burden on everyday life.

 

8. Environmental wellness

 

Environmental wellness involves your sense of safety, comfort, and connection with your environment, locally and beyond. It focuses on creating a harmonious relationship with your surroundings, which is typically reciprocal. You support your environment, and in return, you benefit from living in surroundings that support your health, safety, and well-being. This can include promoting sustainable practices, minimizing exposure to harmful toxins, respecting nature, reducing waste, and conserving resources. By adopting environmentally friendly practices, we can experience firsthand the impact our daily behaviors and choices have on our immediate surroundings. This allows us to make healthier choices that strengthen our connection and relationship with the environment. When you feel safe in your home, enjoy the great outdoors, and have access to healthy produce, not only are you enjoying the health benefits of a safe and resource-rich environment, but it compels you to adopt practices that support and sustain this environment that, in return, provides for you. A reciprocal relationship that keeps you safe, happy, and healthy.

 

These eight pillars of holistic health provide a framework for optimal wellness. Nurturing these pillars and striving for balance is the most comprehensive approach to getting healthier and happier. It's important to understand that because we all have our own unique needs and circumstances, the priority of each pillar for each person will be different; however, we all have a problem pillar, or the pillar that has the highest priority at the moment, that carries on most of the weight and supports the other pillars.


Holistic healing using your “problem” pillar


Now that we have a better understanding of each holistic health pillar, we can identify our problem pillar a bit easier. Although the pillars are all interconnected, each person will experience varying degrees of influence from each based on where they are in their lives and their health. There is, however, that one major pillar that has the most influence in our quality of life. It’s the one that affects the other pillars the most and is considered to be the weakest pillar, affecting the foundation of your “house” which is your body, mind, and spirit. I like to call this the “problem pillar”. Finding this problem pillar will help you navigate which area of your life you need to focus on first in order to tip back into a healthy balance.

 

So, can you identify your problem pillar? If you’re struggling a bit, take our quiz to help you sort it out. You may be surprised to discover that your problem pillar represents a different area of your life than you initially thought.

 

Suggestion: Take our quiz, The 8 Pillars of Holistic Health: Finding your Problem Pillar, to help you identify your problem pillar.

 

By understanding where we are within these foundational pillars, we better understand our current health, what areas in our lives are the most impactful, and, most importantly, what we need to focus on to achieve balance and harmony. We can all do our part in nurturing our eight pillars of health by incorporating daily self-care routines. Still, we may need some assistance with recognizing the imbalance, addressing the root cause, and finding practical solutions to bring everything back to harmony. That’s when finding a qualified practitioner can make the difference between trying a solution and making it a permanent healthy practice. Remember, your well-being is not just about treating symptoms; it's about addressing the root causes and nurturing your body, mind, and spirit as interconnected aspects that make up the unique person that you are.


Embracing holistically healthy practices is a journey unique to each individual. Stay open-minded, consider the eight pillars when you feel your life is out of balance, and when needed, don’t hesitate to reach out to qualified holistic health practitioners who can guide you to comprehensive healing. By actively participating in your well-being and exploring the vast world of holistic healing, you're empowering yourself toward a healthier and more vibrant life.


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Read more from Mary!

Mary Solis Brainz Magazine
 

Mary Solis, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Mary Solis is a registered pharmacist, certified health coach, and founder of Nexia Wellness. She received her Pharmacy Doctorate from the University of Washington in Seattle. She considers herself a holistic health advocate, with the belief that you can only achieve optimal well-being with a synergistic approach of both conventional medicine and holistic practices. This belief led to the development of Nexia Wellness, a platform that connects people with professionals who utilize whole-person healing through mind, body, and spirit. Mary has special interests in functional medicine, self-development, and spirituality.

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