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The pathway to mental health recovery is not all that clear cut. Timeworn treatment methods still dominate the landscape of psychiatry, and for good reason. These are the evidence-based approaches that have withstood the scrutiny of clinical trials and research and have been shown to produce authentic positive effects in treating mental health disorders. These cornerstone treatment elements remain central to the practice of psychiatry.
But because each individual seeking help for a mental health challenge is unique, using a one-size-fits-all treatment protocol is not always the best route to take. Our DNA, biology, and life story require a more personally curated approach if we are to really connect with the healing process. This means that other avenues may need to be explored in the quest to arrive at the mind-body connectedness so important in successful treatment outcomes.
In recent years, the support for holistic strategies for achieving mental wellness has swelled. Cultural preferences in general is shifting towards more natural lifestyle choices, including diet, using sustainable materials, and pharmaceutical-free medical care. It is only fitting that this mindset would also influence our approach to mental wellness. Holistic therapies and experiential complementary activities are quickly finding their way into mainstream medical and mental health care. So, exactly what are the benefits of the holistic approach to mental health anyway?
What Are the Benefits of a Holistic Approach to Mental Health?
A holistic approach to mental health takes into account all aspects of the individual, considering not only the diagnosis and symptoms, but emotional and social factors as well. By integrating holistic methods into the overall treatment plan a more comprehensive approach to healing will improve the clinical outcome. This is due to the intrinsic and inseparable connection between the mind and the body.
Some of the benefits of a holistic approach to mental health and wellness include:
- All systems are involved in treating the mental health disorder, including:
- Holistic measures help the mind become a tool for healing. By training the mind to reshape a given situation or to react differently to a triggering stimulus it can be just as effective in easing symptoms as psychotropic drugs.
- Making core shifts in diet and physical activity can be highly effective in reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood swings, and can improve sleep quality.
- Regulating stress through use of holistic therapies is integral to progressing along the path to wellness, as stress is a trigger for activating the mental health disorder.
Examples of Holistic Mental Health Activities and Their Benefits
As a society we have become complacent about taking care of our emotional wellbeing. We have been conditioned to rely on a pill for this or that ailment as quick and easy fix for whatever difficulty we are experiencing. The error in that way of thinking is that mental wellbeing can be accomplished through pharmaceuticals, with little other effort involved. This is a mistake.
In reality, the medications, if they are even effective, may alter neurotransmitters, as do antidepressants, or impact the central nervous system, as do benzodiazepines, but these actions of psychotropic drugs do not heal us. To effectively shift into wellness, we must address the whole person, and this is where the benefits of holistic approach to mental health comes into play.
Consider these holistic activities and their benefits to overall wellness:
- Meditation. Meditation is the practice of training the mind to focus awareness on the present moment, an object, or an activity that leads to a calm and relaxed state. There are several different forms of meditation for individuals to sample until they find one that fits. There are guided meditation apps available to assist the individual in focusing on something that brings about a sense of serenity and calm. Learning how to meditate can provide a tool to access when stress or anxiety is triggered.
- Exercise. Engaging in moderate exercise 3-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes each session can provide numerous mental health benefits in addition to the obvious physical benefits. Sticking with a consistent program will begin to offer positive changes in brain chemistry within 4 weeks, which can impact overall mood. Other mental health benefits include providing a distraction from worry or negative thoughts, increasing self-confidence and self-esteem, improving concentration, and enhancing quality of sleep.
- Breathwork. When upset or stressed we tend to hold our breath or engage in shallow breathing. This means not enough oxygen is getting to our brains. To make an immediate positive impact on symptoms of anxiety or stress, practice purposeful deep breathing. This is an easy technique that can be done anywhere at any time, and within moments the body and mind will become relaxed. Repeat the pattern 5-10 times: breathe in slowly to a count of 5 while expanding the diaphragm or abdominal area; hold the breath for a count of 5; slowly release the breath through the mouth with lips pursed for a count of 5.
- Nutrition. Brain health and mood regulation can be significantly improved through diet. Foods that assist in improving mental health include oily fish, such as salmon and mackerel, fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads and pasta, fermented foods such as kefir and yoghurt, nuts, seeds, and legumes, and low-fat dairy. Just as important as these healthy food sources is the limitation of processed, salty, high fat foods, sugar-laden foods and beverages, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Yoga. Yoga combines physical movement with breathwork and mindfulness for an activity that can provide multiple benefits for mental wellness. There are several types of yoga to choose from, but they all center on movement and poses that are said to bring about an enhanced mind-body connection, relaxation, and calm.
- Aromatherapy. There is growing evidence of the efficacy of using essential oils, which are derived from certain parts of plants and flowers and then inhaled for various health benefits. For mental health purposes, lavender, orange, rose, ylang ylang, bergamot, and chamomile are particularly effective for improving mood or inducing a calm state of mind.
Mental Health Hope Provides Guidance For Individuals Seeking Treatment
Contact the team at Mental Health Hope today for assistance in locating a private mental health retreat that uses a holistic approach to treatment of mental health conditions. Call us today for a free confidential assessment and insurance review at (877) 967-9274.