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How Does A Holistic Approach Contribute to Well-Being?

Submitted by Jeanne Thomsen, RN
OHNA Secretary

For me, well-being is that general feeling of contentment and peace when I find the balance between accomplishing the things that need to be done and giving time to the things that I want to do. Accomplishing those must-do-but-don’t-really-want-to tasks usually requires a written list that I can check off with satisfaction as I complete each item. I cannot fully relax when I know there are things that I need to do waiting for me. However, I also cannot let those tasks dominate over my preferred activities that help me to unwind and re-center. Planning the enjoyable activities is sort of the reward for getting the to-do list done. Well-being also includes contributing to physical health, which we all know is connected to our mental health. Again, it is finding that balance.

In order to achieve this balance, I know that I must do something physical each day. In the pre-Covid-19 days, this meant I could use the gym at work or go for a walk outside on my lunch break. During the time of working from home, my partner and I have been walking in our neighborhood almost daily- more than we ever have in the 3 years we’ve lived here! Now that the weather is warmer it is easier to add a variety of activities and friends to the outdoor activities while maintaining safe distancing measures. And on those frequent rainy Oregon days, I utilize a yoga app to do a routine customized to my energy level and desired goal for the day.

I also try to incorporate at least a few minutes of meditation each day. Sometimes this is just sitting quietly and noticing what comes to me. Sometimes it is simply the minutes in the shower with no distractions. Often, it is gardening. (Look up benefits of gardening and even soil microbes for mood and mental health and enjoy an array of studies and articles supporting this!) Sometimes I go hiking or camping alone and bask in the silence and nature around me. Sensory deprivation leads to the most rejuvenation, grounding, and creative inspiration moments. This is where I realize all the chaos around us is just extra, and all that is really necessary is already here organically. It reminds me that no matter what is happening around us, I get to control my actions and reactions which may also have an influence on others. I would rather lead by example than by force, and this knowledge brings me peace as well.

Visualization has always been a strong positive influence in my progression of self and well-being. I am a very goal-driven person, sometimes to a fault, and visualizing the attainment of my goals has absolutely helped me believe I can accomplish the things I dream. Once you envision yourself in that new career, or with that diploma, or traveling to a new place, or creating a new piece, or just being the calmer person you want to be, it becomes a more realistic and attainable target.

And finally, the natural next step once proficient in a skill is to teach others what you know. Transitioning from bedside nurse to nurse educator has reinforced the fulfillment of helping others in any way we can. For example, if you have a holistic healing practice it is beneficial and natural to teach others while practicing your skill. (Remember Erickson’s 7th stage of development: generativity vs. stagnation, where we give back to others and leave a beneficial mark on society. Turns out, it’s real!) Am I certified in a holistic practice? Not yet, but I have envisioned it happening and here I am joining a group of inspirational holistic practitioners so I know I am on my way to accomplishing another step in my journey to well-being. Stay on your path toward your envisioned goals of well-being, and reward yourself when you take steps toward progress. You can do it and the benefit is well worth the effort!