The Holistic Checklist: Everything but the drugs

Before you read any further I think I need a disclaimer, this post is NOT about: fasting, dieting, exercise, psychotherapy, meditation, eating only vegetables, eating only raw vegetables, not eating gluten, not using shampoo or headstands.

Although if any of the above makes you happy, by all means it should be on any checklist you make. Each person has their own approach to food and lifestyle, and basically the below is mine…

A lot of the time the medication we take is used to just manage symptoms, this is surely the case with conditions like hives- because hives have no specific causes or cures. Meaning the root of the problem, over time, may be forgotten, lost and untreated.

I began researching the holistic approach when my daughter started reacting differently (or not at all) to different types of antihistamine. I read that, ultimately, the amount of antihistamines you took made no difference, it was the type, strength and dosage (how many times you take and when you take) that helped with the breakouts. There are multiple versions of holistic schools, but it was the principle that I found helpful as it was something I could control, aside from depending on medication, to make my daughter feel better.

Here are a few interesting principles of holistic medicine that I took away with me and found helpful:

  • Illness, pain, and the dying process can be learning opportunities for patients and physicians.
  • Holistic physicians encourage patients to evoke the healing power of love, hope, humour and enthusiasm, and to release the toxic consequences of hostility, shame, greed, depression, and prolonged fear, anger, and grief.
  • Unconditional love is life’s most powerful medicine. Physicians strive to adopt an attitude of unconditional love for patients, themselves, and other practitioners.
  • Optimal health is much more than the absence of sickness. It is the conscious pursuit of the highest qualities of the physical, environmental, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of the human experience.
  • Holistic medicine encompasses all safe and appropriate modalities of diagnosis and treatment. It includes analysis of physical, nutritional, environmental, emotional, spiritual and lifestyle elements. Holistic medicine focuses upon patient education and participation in the healing process.

I used the parts highlighted above to make a checklist of items I could control in our daily routine:

  • Physical: Making sure we move as much as we can (biking, walking), wear the right clothes for the weather- and for my daughters skin.
  • Nutritional: I made sure that we were taking daily important vitamins and nutrients that would strengthen our system for example Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, etc,.
  • Environmental: Make sure we live in a clean, (relatively) tidy and calming space at home. We make home a place we all want to go back to, and want to stay in when we are there. Too many disregard their immediate surroundings, nor realise it directly affects and also reflects the individuals emotions/health.
  • Emotional: This is a very personal and varied issue, where no suggestion can work for everyone. I have always believed in a balance between having time for yourself, and for others. I found trying to respect and be empathetic of this for yourself, and for others (adults or children), was a good place to start.
  • Spiritual: As the above, everyones spirituality is different. This is less so about religion than it is about respecting the fact we are all human, all have the right to believe in what we wish, and all have the responsibility of respecting the same for others. Whether you delve more or less into your chosen religion/spirituality/beliefs is ultimately up to you, but one must also be aware of balancing the good/bad effects of the same.
  • Lifestyle: The way a person lives cannot be defined or prescribed, I was at a loss when I asked myself what our (my) lifestyle was. Travelling, being social, being anti-social, cooking, cleaning, childcare, work- the list is endless and these are all very personal and individual things that everyone does some/none of. However, the one thing I found I could do is be more aware, of how much we spend time with those we treasure, what we eat, how much we move, how we entertain each other/ourselves…as you can see, this personal list is both revealing and easy to monitor/manipulate when you are aware.

Nothing is for certain, and I can tell you none of the above that works for me would work for anyone else (my husband would be the first to elaborate on this point with you). I don’t believe in an either/or approach, and I find myself intrigued and reassured by the notion of bio-individuality in integrative medicine: teaching that natural remedies can compliment medicine, lifestyle can compliment diet, emotions can affect reactions to both food and medication, and spirituality can affect all: these intricacies show that everything is ultimately parts of a whole.

I have recently signed up for a course on “Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching”, as someone who loves food endlessly, and believes strongly that everyone should do what works for them, this course would benefit me, and hopefully (in time) those around me.

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