Part 4 – Holistic vs. Isolated
In the last two articles, we looked at principles lived by the minority of our society that are truly healthy. The first was that they focus on building health as opposed to fighting symptoms and disease. The second was that they seek to enhance awareness instead of sedating.
This article delves into the third principle of healthy people, which is that they see things in a holistic way as opposed to an isolated way.
Holistic is defined as, ‘characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.’
What this means from the perspective of health, is that something happening in one part of our bodies is impacting, and being impacted by other parts of our bodies, and even lives.
I learned this very early in my chiropractic practice, almost 18 years ago. At the time I was practicing a very mechanical technique that understood that the spine was an integrated whole. So, I took full spine x-rays on almost all my patients. What I noticed was that very often, when someone would come in with low back trouble, their low back would look good on the x-ray, but their neck was messed up. The opposite was also true.
What this means is that where we have a problem (secondary condition or symptom) is not necessarily where the problem is. This also means that it is important to assess and address the entire system HOLISTICALLY in order to create a solution.
If you have light bulbs burning out too quickly in your house and appliances shorting out, you could go around replacing the parts, OR you could have an electrician go down to the electrical box and address what is more likely to be the main problem.
Unfortunately, many common health care approaches spend too much time replacing light bulbs and not enough time seeing the big picture. In this case changing light bulbs just delays the inevitable.
A holistic approach to health also involves a lot more than just the physical/mechanical. Healthy people look to their lifestyle and observe how it affects their physical health and perhaps plays a role in their symptoms and diseases.
In my chiropractic practice, it is my observation that as people become healthier, they can see the connection between their symptoms and their diet, emotional state, mental state and even how they are doing spiritually. With this awareness comes the ability to change much more effortlessly.
Research shows us that one of the most accurate predictors of back pain is how satisfied people are in their jobs, financial situation, and relationships. There is a neurological explanation for this beyond the scope of this article but when was the last time you considered how what you were feeling inside may be impacting your physical health?
Healthy people understand this and look to all aspects of their lives when faced with a health problem. When someone with back pain not only addresses what is happening with their spine and nervous system but also assesses what they are eating, how they are moving, their emotional state, their interactions with others, and even assess if they are on the correct path in life, not only does it drastically improve their chances of recovery, it also improves the overall quality of their lives. Isn’t that what we truly want, anyway?
The care at Nexus is set up and delivered in a holistic way. We assess the entire spine and nervous system because we know that a symptom in one part of the body is usually not solely caused by that spot, but by stress on the entire system. We teach our patients specific exercises that increases their somatic – or body – awareness. We give presentations that teach patients how to care for their spine and nervous system at home.
While I am no psychotherapist, I often point out how what is showing up in a person’s spine may be connected to what is happening mentally and emotionally in their lives. The state of the spine and nervous system also leave clues about how a person can best go about making the necessary changes in their lives.
So, where in your health and life have you been too caught up in the isolated parts? Where have you been running around the house changing light bulbs, when the electrical system really needed to be updated?
Now, how can you assess and address this in a more holistic manner?
Keep it up! See you next article.
Thorin Gault, D.C.