In the digital age, there is nothing more important than speed. We’re surrounded by gadgets, programs, and services meant to hasten our lives so that we can quickly jump from one activity or responsibility to the next. Living on the fast lane isn’t an option — it’s a necessity. This leads to a society that is overtired, stressed out and more vulnerable than ever to severe health issues. Which is why it’s so important to slow things down and look at the big picture when it comes to health and wellness.
What is Holistic Health?
There’s more to holistic wellness than just regulating blood pressure and sugar levels — healthcare professionals look at various aspects of their patients’ lifestyle to try and piece together a diagnostic image that works on a larger scale. This shift in the way we look at wellness is largely due to the fast-paced culture of the 21st century. The stress of keeping our heads above the water has had a severe impact on many people, physically, mentally, socially and beyond. Let’s look at the facts:
● Raised blood pressure affects 1.13 billion people worldwide, approximately 16.14% of the global population (World Health Organization, 2017)
● There are more than 300 million reported cases of depression worldwide, affecting people of all ages (World Health Organization, 2018)
● The annual working hours worldwide range from 1,300 to over 2,500 (Feenstra et al, 2015)
● Around 18% of people worldwide feel some level of dissatisfaction with the amount of leisure time they have (Growth from Knowledge, 2015)
Holistic wellness allows us to look at indices such as diet and exercise, stress levels, socialization and work-life balance and work towards a healthier, happier life.
Looking at the Big Picture
There are four facets of holistic wellness that we can exercise some kind of control over — physical, mental, social, professional.
In this day and age moderating things like diet and exercise is harder than ever. Many of us, especially those of us who live in urban areas, work long hours in sedentary jobs which can make it hard to follow a prescribed fitness routine or eat consciously. This can lead to increased risk of complications such as heart disease, diabetes and joint pain.
Managing physical health
● Meal preparation — taking an hour out every weekend to plan and prepare meals for the week can make eating healthy fast and easy on even the busiest day
● Intermittent exercise — short walks and simple stretches can help break up a long and tedious workday, and have a great impact on physical health
● Regular checkups — regular checkups with a general practitioner can help catch diseases and health complications in their early stages
Mental health is a term that is gaining more attention around the globe as reported cases of depression, anxiety and mental exhaustion rise. Many psychiatrists argue that a major cause for this is the lifestyle of the 21st century — longer workdays, greater access to world events and social vanity (thanks to the rise of social media).
Managing mental health
● Meditation — spending a little time each day meditating goes a long way in clearing the mind of anxious and disruptive thoughts
● Talk it out — sometimes just taking some time to vent to a third party, whether it’s a friend, a family member, mental health professional or even a stranger online can help relieve day-to-day stress
● Take a break — When things become overwhelming, take a step back, enjoy a relaxing activity, and deal with the situation in a calmer state of mind
Social interactions have taken on a new meaning in recent years, with much of our communication occurring in digital spaces. The digital age has created a society that is hyper-connected yet isolated when it comes to face-to-face interactions. This can exacerbate existing issues, particularly mental health.
Managing social health
● Pick up a hobby — meeting new people and developing interests can be as easy as finding the right hobby club
● Make a call — messaging is the go-to means of communication these days, but taking time out to call a friend can help us relax, open up, and stay grounded in ways text-based interactions can’t
● Host events with friends — catching up with friends is difficult when everyone’s schedule is equally packed. Sometimes we have to take the first step in reaching out, and there’s no better way than hosting a get together
Career-related stress is a growing problem in the 21st-century workforce. Long workdays, low job satisfaction, job hopping and stagnation are all factors that can directly affect physical, mental and social health.
Managing professional health
● Manage the workload — taking on more work than we can handle affects our mood, performance and perception within the organization. Instead, we should try and find a balance between challenging ourselves and overworking ourselves
● Talk to superiors — maintaining open communications with our superiors can keep us from stagnating in our careers. It gives both parties the chance to understand what is needed to help both the organisation and the individual to grow
● Create a balance — finding time for friends and family outside of the workplace keeps us from viewing our jobs as a source of stress, or as something that holds us back from developing social ties
Nowadays, everything is connected, from our appliances to our social circles. So why should our health be any different? These simple lifestyle changes can help us slow down in the 21st century, and put our healthy living back in top priority. After all, it’s the little changes that can help improve the big picture.