It’s a catchy phrase, isn’t it? Holistic Well-being… It has a certain ring to it that makes me think of some vibrant young woman frolicking through a field full of flowers in a flowy white dress with nothing but good health and good vibes… Or perhaps it’s the radiant yoga guru who has managed to obtain inner peace through developing a spiritual connection with their body and with the universe. Either way, Holistic Wellness is a hot topic in the health and lifestyle sector at the moment and there is a lot of information available to help people live a more holistically balanced life. However, it can all be somewhat confusing. What do we actually mean when we talk about holistic well-being?
Holistic is a broad term. When we talk about holistic wellness we are interested in the well-being of the whole person. It is all encompassing… every facet of the human experience must be properly considered to obtain a holistic view of health. There are a lot of helpful resources available to talk about holistic well-being. But some of them are a bit vague, and some are too narrow in their focus, while others are so broad that they are overwhelming. Also the rise of eastern religious practices and New Age therapies in both popular culture and the social sciences can be a little uneasy for those of us who want to live in a way that is honouring to Jesus Christ. So when we consider “Holistic Well-being” we can quickly become overwhelmed and discouraged at the enormity of such a pursuit.
Through my years of studying counselling and Neuropsychotherapy I have learned that people are complex and multifaceted creatures. We are made up of may parts. As a Christian, I believe that Jesus cares deeply for the whole person. He Himself is well acquainted with our human experience. He came down from His Heavenly Throne, He became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1). All the complexities and intricacies of our humanity were fully experienced by Jesus Himself. He is the God who made us (Colossians 1:15-20). He is the author of life (Acts 3:15) and the perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), who said that He came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10). To live an abundant life is to live with holistic surrender to Jesus Christ.
So again we must ask, what does all of this look like? At its core, holistic living is a matter of balance. How does that saying go?
“Some days you go to the gym and eat salads. Other days you eat cake for breakfast and refuse to wear pants… its all about balance.”
The tricky part is trying to figure out exactly what it is you are trying to balance. Or more importantly, what part of your life is out of balance.
Based on a combination of current research, personal application and a deep seeded desire to simplify my understanding of ‘balance’, I have come up with the following little diagram to understanding holistic well-being.
The Four Dimensions of Holistic Well-being
The overall experience of being human can be broken down into these four broad categories; Physical, Mental, Social and Spiritual.
Each of these dimensions will be discussed in more detail over the coming months. This is a basic overview of how I have come to frame holistic well-being in a way that makes it easy to understand and apply to everyday life. This tool has been adapted from research in psychology and is helpful for locating key areas of our human experience that need to be addressed in order to move towards a greater holistic wellness.
The four dimensions are separate but they interact and affect one another in a very fluid and dynamic way (note the arrows). For example, if you contract the flu, this is a physical (well-being) issue with clear physical symptoms. However, when you feel sick, you often don’t feel up to socialising with loved ones (social well-being). Your diminished social engagement makes you feel lonely and a bit depressed (mental well-being). If you spend long enough feeling sick, isolated and depressed, it will begin to affect your view of self and moreover your view of God (spiritual well-being). This is a very basic example, but it shows how all the quadrants in this model work together to impact the whole person.
Whatever is happening in one dimension will affect what is going on in the other dimensions and vice versa. The Cross has been placed in the centre because this diagram represents a person who has centred themselves on Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour of their life. When Jesus is brought into the centre of our human experiences, radical things happen! It means that His Grace not only works in each of these four separate dimensions, but it alters the way these dimensions interact with one another. All of our human experiences are impacted by the person and work of Jesus Christ. We see His hand of Redemptive Grace in everything, working all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Thinking about wellness in this way can be extremely helpful for taking stock of our overall well-being and identifying where to make tweaks and changes if necessary. It can also help us to see where and how sin and suffering are impacting us and where we need to invite Jesus in to restore and redeem. It is my prayer that this simple little tool will help each of us to move in that direction, making the most of every opportunity to live life with Wondrous Joy.
This is the framework for how this website will be developed over the coming months. So please keep checking in and feel free to get in touch. I’d love to hear how you are discovering how to live authentically in the Wondrous Joy that was bought for us at the Cross of Christ Jesus.