Healing The Whole Person: A Holistic Approach To Mental Health

You’ve probably heard the term “holistic” before, but what does it mean in the context of mental health? Well, the word is derived from the Greek “holos,” meaning “whole,” and a holistic…

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You’ve probably heard the term “holistic” before, but what does it mean in the context of mental health? Well, the word is derived from the Greek “holos,” meaning “whole,” and a holistic approach encompasses just that: the entire person. Rather than dialing in on a specific set of symptoms, it focuses on everything that makes you up—mind, body, and spirit. 

Sometimes, being treated for a mental health condition or addiction can feel like you’re being pigeonholed into diagnostic categories. While one aspect is addressed, other equally important facets of your wellbeing go unchecked. Health professionals that don’t take a macro view might never get to the root of your issues and may even exacerbate them. 

From a holistic perspective, you’re not simply defined by your addiction or mental health disorder—you’re a unique individual with specific needs and experiences. Many studies have found an integrative approach to mental health to be highly effective, often succeeding where traditional models have failed. 

At Maui Recovery, we’ve witnessed the profound impact of a holistic approach firsthand. Having supported countless successful recoveries, we firmly believe it’s the optimal way to treat addiction and mental health conditions. Read on to explore more about this approach, along with its associated treatments and life-changing benefits!

What do we mean by a holistic approach?

Emphasizing the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, a holistic approach isn’t just about treating symptoms or categorizing disorders; it’s about understanding and addressing the multitude of factors that contribute to your overall wellbeing.

It views mental health not in isolation but as a part of your total health landscape, acknowledging that mental health conditions can be influenced by physical health, emotional experiences, social environment, and spiritual beliefs. For instance, factors like a nutritious diet, regular physical activity, healthy relationships, and stress management all play a part in your holistic care.

Ultimately, this approach aims to help you achieve balance in all areas of your life. Treatments may encompass cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness practices, physical activities, dietary adjustments, and even art or music therapy. It can also involve exploring your beliefs and values to cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning in your life.

Bear in mind that this model doesn’t just enable you to experience new, exciting therapies but encourages you to take an active role in your healing process—to carefully tend to your eight pillars of wellness. It emphasizes self-care, resilience, and personal growth, promoting not just recovery but lasting, comprehensive wellbeing.

Western medicine vs holistic care

When people hear the term “holistic approach”, they may think of calming yoga sequences or nature-derived remedies. While these therapies can be beneficial, being holistic, in its truest form, entails looking at the complete picture. Despite how it may appear, Western medicine and holistic methodologies aren’t necessarily at odds. When combined, they often pave the way to a more efficient and thorough recovery.

Consider this: you’re dealing with a health challenge such as high blood pressure. Yes, medical intervention and prescribed medication are critical. But adopting a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and integrating stress-reducing practices like mindfulness can significantly contribute to managing your blood pressure.

The same comprehensive approach also applies to psychiatric conditions like anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Of course, utilizing the right medication and engaging in psychotherapy can be essential. However, supplementary holistic techniques often bolster the effects of traditional methods. 

All things considered, an integrated approach provides a balanced and multifaceted pathway to authentic healing.

The benefits of a holistic approach to mental health

The benefits of a holistic approach to mental health

8 Pillars of Wellness

8 Pillars of Wellness

While professional and guided treatment is often a necessary part of healing, you shouldn’t underestimate the value of self-care. In fact, a holistic approach often requires applying its tools and techniques to your daily life. 

Ultimately, health and wellbeing can be split into eight core pillars. Below, we’ll explore each one, along with tips on how to keep them sturdy and strong!

1. Physical wellness 

When you think about physical wellness, you might picture people lifting weights or long-distance running. However, while its many benefits are now widely known, exercise isn’t the only element that matters. Personal hygiene, a healthy diet, and (most importantly) quality sleep, all contribute to your physical health. As professor of neuroscience, Matt Walker puts it, “Sleep is our superpower.” Research shows adults should aim for at least seven hours of shuteye a night, and getting a good night’s rest will help to support healing and recovery.

Tips to improve sleep

  • Reduce screen time before bed. 
  • Create and maintain a soothing nighttime routine.
  • Ensure a dark, quiet sleeping environment.
  • Avoid eating three hours before going to sleep.
  • Get morning sunlight to optimize your circadian rhythm.

2. Nutritional wellness 

Healthy Meal Plan. Calories control, meal plan, food diet and weight loss concept. top view of hand filling meal plan on weekly table with salad and fresh vegetable on dining table

Nutrition may be intertwined with physical health, but it’s so vital that it deserves its own pillar. A nutritious diet should be tailored to your age, gender, activity level, and body chemistry. It’s essential to consume a variety of foods to obtain the necessary macronutrients for energy, muscle growth, and other bodily functions. Remember, dietary supplements can help fill the gap if your daily intake falls short.

Tips for a healthy diet

  • Customize your diet according to your unique nutritional needs.
  • Incorporate a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables for diverse nutrients.
  • Prioritize whole, natural foods over processed ones.
  • Hydrate regularly with water.
  • Plan your meals to maintain balance and avoid unhealthy choices.

3. Emotional wellness 

This involves understanding and managing your feelings effectively. The emotions we experience can sometimes resemble a rollercoaster ride—developing the ability to process and share your feelings in a healthy way will make that ride smoother. 

Tips to improve emotional wellbeing

  • Practice mindfulness to stay present and avoid unnecessary stress.
  • Keep a gratitude journal to recognize and appreciate the good in your life.
  • Develop healthy boundaries to protect your energy and peace.
  • Seek support when needed, be it from friends, family, or professionals.
  • Regularly engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.

4. Social wellness 

Young group of people in room talks

Social wellness revolves around forming and maintaining positive relationships with others. Community is key to recovery. It can be a powerful support system that helps you navigate life’s ups and downs. Building these networks requires time and energy, but it’s an investment that pays dividends.

Tips to improve your social wellbeing

  • Engage in regular social activities that you enjoy.
  • Foster deep and meaningful relationships with people who uplift you.
  • Practice active listening to build stronger connections.
  • Give back to your community through volunteering or other acts of kindness.
  • Regularly check in with friends and family, no matter the distance.

5. Spiritual wellness 

Spirituality is a deeply personal aspect of overall wellness, and you don’t have to be religious to care for this pillar. It can involve a sense of purpose, direction, or meaning, and often includes activities that foster a connection to nature or a higher power. 

Tips for improving spiritual wellness

  • Dedicate a quiet time each day for reflection or meditation.
  • Identify and stay true to your values in daily life.
  • Engage in activities that bring you peace and a sense of purpose.
  • Explore different spiritual beliefs and practices.
  • Keep a gratitude journal to stay mindful of life’s blessings.

6. Intellectual wellness 

young man working while using a laptop

This pillar involves ensuring your mind has enough stimulation. But don’t worry—this doesn’t mean tackling classic literature if you don’t want to! You can fulfill this need by learning new skills, pursuing hobbies, or engaging in intellectually stimulating conversations. 

Whether it’s through academic endeavors, community involvement, or other personal growth activities, intellectual wellness is about constantly challenging and expanding your mind.

Tips for improving intellectual wellness

  • Engage in intellectual activities like reading, puzzles, or brain games.
  • Seek opportunities for learning new things.
  • Regularly engage in meaningful and thought-provoking conversations.
  • Write in a journal to help refine your thoughts and ideas.
  • Pursue a hobby that challenges your creativity and problem-solving skills.

7. Financial wellness

A survey by CNBC found that 70% of Americans are stressed about money. Considering the negative impact of stress on your wellbeing, cultivating a healthy relationship with money is crucial. Living within your means, careful budgeting, and planning for the future can all contribute to your financial wellness. 

Tips for improving financial wellness

  • Stick to a budget to manage your spending effectively.
  • Prioritize paying off debt to relieve financial stress.
  • Invest wisely, considering both short-term and long-term goals.
  • Establish an emergency fund for unexpected expenses.
  • Regularly review and understand your financial status and progress.

8. Environmental wellness 

Woman hiker stands on the path and watches waterfall in the tropical forest

This pillar focuses on the interplay between you and your environment. Are your living arrangements conducive to healing and do you have access to nature? Research has found that nature-assisted therapy is hugely impactful for a variety of psychiatric disorders—so don’t underestimate the power of the great outdoors!

Tips for environmental wellness

  • Spend time in nature regularly, as it helps rejuvenate your mind and body.
  • Keep your living and working spaces clean and clutter-free for a calming environment.
  • Create a green corner at home with indoor plants to enhance air quality.
  • Incorporate nature walks or outdoor exercises into your routine for a healthy dose of fresh air and sunlight.
  • Choose residential and work locations that promote good health, with access to outdoor spaces and amenities.

Types of holistic therapy for improved wellbeing

With so many modalities available, navigating the range of holistic therapies can be overwhelming at first. But don’t be dismayed! Think of it like a journey of self-discovery—find what resonates with you and suits your specific needs. Not every therapy will be the right fit, and that’s okay. 

The aim is to identify what helps you most on your path to wellness and recovery. Below are some popular forms of holistic care. 


Rooted in ancient Chinese medicine, this practice stimulates your body’s natural healing abilities. Fine, sterile needles gently inserted into specific points on your body can foster both physical and emotional wellbeing. While many falsely believe it to be a pseudoscience, research shows that acupuncture has proven effective at treating a variety of conditions.

Yoga therapy 

Caucasian woman practicing yoga at seashore

Combining physical postures with deep breathing exercises, yoga increases body strength and flexibility. It enhances balance and coordination while promoting mental clarity and calmness. Yoga (meaning “union” in Sanskrit) is as holistic as it gets, and research shows a regular yoga practice can drastically increase your quality of life

Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) 

By focusing on the present moment, MBSR helps you to develop a profound awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and environment without judgment. The benefits include a reduction in stress and anxiety and enhanced emotional resilience.

Experiential therapies 

Immersive, novel, and exciting, experiential therapies take you outside your comfort zone to promote radical healing. Activities such as expressive arts, equine-assisted therapy, and adventure therapy fall under this category. Often, these allow you to confront emotions and traumas that might prove more challenging in a traditional therapy setting.

Herbal medicine

By utilizing plants and plant extracts, you can promote health and wellness. This form of medicine offers a natural alternative or complement to pharmaceutical treatments, aiming to treat the root cause of illness, not just symptoms. We recommend using evidence-based herbal remedies and only under the guidance of an accredited expert. 

Massage therapy 

Manipulating the body’s muscles and soft tissues relieves muscle tension and reduces stress. An excellent addition to a holistic treatment plan, massage therapy addresses both physical, emotional, and spiritual health.

Art therapy 

woman with paint all over her hands

Expressing yourself through art can be therapeutic, cathartic, and empowering. By creating art, you can communicate feelings and experiences that are too difficult to put into words, leading to healing and personal growth.

Maui Recovery – experts in holistic healing

Since we opened our doors over a decade ago, Maui Recovery has championed the importance of treating the whole person. We always aim to meet our clients “where they are” and have seen the transformative power of a holistic approach firsthand. 

Our personalized plans combine traditional and holistic therapies and are tailored to meet your unique needs. Fully committed to walking with you on this path, our expert team provides support and guidance every step of the way.

Maui Recovery strives to go beyond mere symptom management. Instead, we seek to empower you to foster enduring change. We believe that by focusing on complete wellness—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—you can achieve authentic and sustained recovery. We view you as the hero of your own story

So, when you’re ready to embark on this holistic healing journey, we’ll be here with open arms!

If you’d like to talk to us about our holistic approach, and how we can help you or a loved one, please contact us.

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