Yoga on the beach, detox smoothies, long hikes and hours of daily meditation… when you think of the word “holistic,” what comes to mind? Holistic has become a buzzword for all things related to health and wellness, but we shouldn’t discount it for its popularity!
If you dig beneath all the buzz, you’ll see that the definition of the word holistic is quite simple. It refers to the idea that any observable parts of something can only be fully understood when we look at the whole picture, because they are interwoven. If we make a change to one part, it affects the whole.
What would therapy look like if we saw people holistically?
Holistic psychotherapy uses a combination of traditional methods of psychotherapy in addition to holistic therapies. Instead of relying on an outside authority, a holistic perspective to therapy can empower individuals by encouraging them to look inward for solutions. Looking inward includes honouring our thoughts, and especially our feelings.
Holistic approaches also encourage us to see our health as a “whole,” instead of isolating the mind and the body. This is especially important when thinking about mental health treatment! Whereas many traditional therapies treat symptoms, holistic approaches aim to get to the root of the problem, which involves examining the external and internal environment of an individual.
Best of all, holistic therapy views people as continual works in progress. This means that no one is damaged or broken; we are all adapting to life in the way we know how, and we are ever-learning and changing.
Does holistic therapy work?
At this point, science has unequivocally demonstrated that, since there is constant interaction between the mind and the body, the health of one directly affects the health of the other. Many cultures have used holistic approaches to health for centuries, and with good reason-- it works. This is why even seemingly simple activities like listening to a guided meditation, creating art, or taking a walk can help us calm the mind!
When we think about relationship dynamics, most of us think about our partners, friends, or family, but we rarely think about our coworkers. Despite spending hours with the same people, we tend to build walls around professional relationships to view them in isolation. However, improving your working relationships can have a massive impact on the time you spend in and outside of work.
Using the wisdom of Dr. Gottman’s relationship research, we can re-think the way we view our colleagues and foster a positive environment at work by using clear communication and building a culture of appreciation.
Using clear communication
It can be difficult to strike a balance between being assertive and being critical with our colleagues, and it can feel nearly impossible with our bosses. We can avoid the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling) in the workplace by talking about the situation we want to change, our feelings, and our needs using “I” statements, and by using a gentle start-up.
Clear communication expresses the situation, feelings, and needs for a solution, in a gentle way. Unclear communication is more likely to result in a colleague reacting defensively in return.
Building a culture of appreciation
Building a culture of appreciation requires everyone at work to get to know each other on a professional and personal level. This can include your colleagues’ interests, strengths, areas of improvement, and expertise, but also getting to know how they feel, their hobbies outside of work and any significant people in their lives.
Paying attention to each others’ outer and inner worlds is the first step in respecting and trusting each other as coworkers, but also as people in general. In relationship therapy, Dr. Gottman called this “building love maps,” but Dr. Bridbord has reworded this as “developing colleague maps” to apply to the workplace.
Another important factor to building a culture of appreciation is exchanging positive feedback. Feeling underappreciated at work can be damaging for your self-esteem and for your relationships with others. A little encouragement can go a long way in helping us all feel motivated to speak up and do our best.
Through clear communication and building a culture of appreciation, we can learn to assert ourselves, get to know one another, and exchange positive feedback that will inevitably help us all grow.
When you close your eyes and picture a healthy relationship, what do you see? We all have different ideas of what makes a relationship healthy and happy. We might have specific couples in mind. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell why some couples last and others don’t. As a Gottman trained couples therapist, I believe that it’s never too late to make your relationship better.
What’s the secret? Dr. Gottman, expert in marriage and relationships, has identified not only one, but seven key principles to healthy, long-lasting relationships. These principles apply to people of any age or sexual orientation, and can be customized for each couple’s challenges.
Everybody has moments of tension in a relationship. Conflict is common, and can even be healthy at times! We can learn about one another and grow together as a result of talking things out. But what happens when communication isn’t going as smoothly as you’d hoped?
Research has shown that there are four communication styles which can predict the end of a relationship.
Have you heard? Someone has found the key to happiness, and thankfully, it’s not as hard as pronouncing his name! Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has been studying the effects of flow and how it helps us feel happier in our daily lives.
One of my favorite relatives was the most organized and accomplished person in his work life, but an extreme hoarder in his home. He had all kinds of possessions that got in the way of his and his family's enjoyment of their beautiful house.
We all have relationships to our "stuff". Our possessions can provide us with comfort and solace and make us feel good. But sometimes we can go too far in the direction of collecting and keep more stuff than we know what to do with to the point that it interferes with our enjoyment of our living space.
Books, articles and shows about de-cluttering have become very popular because many of us like that zen feeling of having space that is free of clutter and feels completely organized and serene.
Have a think about how you can free yourself from a bit of extra clutter.
Here's a link that might motivate you to toss a few more possessions and gain a bit more peace of mind.
Tidying up our homes has been proven to reduce stress and boost well-being. It gives us a sense of accomplishment (“yes - I did it!”) and a chance to breathe and focus on what’s important.
The newest trend, the KonMari method, uses a simple guiding principle. For each item in your home, ask yourself: Does it spark joy? If it doesn’t, thank the item for its presence in your life, and discard it.
Does this thought spark joy?
Just like the clutter in our homes, we can also apply this philosophy to the clutter in our minds. Damaging thoughts can linger in our minds for years if we don’t take the time to re-assess their presence in our life. KonMari your mind. You can start by asking yourself: Does this thought bring me joy? Is this thought useful to me? Does this thought add value to my life?
Which one of us doesn't want more and better brain power? The latest research shows that having a friendly chat gives our brain a little "hit" which boosts our neural capacity AS MUCH AS doing a New York Times crossword puzzle. How fantastic.
That means smiling more and saying a few words to the person in front of you at your next Starbucks stop INSTEAD OF texting!
Here's a link to a summary of that research if you want to find out more.