What is Holistic Wellness? | The History of Holistic Wellness

In today’s world, you might read or hear the word “wellness” several times a day. In 2020, holistic wellness is highly valued. People spend hundreds of dollars every month pursuing wellness — whether that’s on cycling classes, meditation, or therapy.

Chances are, most of your friends, neighbors, and family have a basic understanding of wellness. But what exactly defines holistic wellness, how can we pursue it, and what led to the rise of wellness in recent years?

We’ve compiled a brief history of holistic wellness, including the origins, the major turning points, and the catalyst of its 21st-century popularity.

But first, what is holistic wellness?

What is Holistic Wellness?

Holistic Wellness Meditation

By definition, holistic wellness is simply full-picture health. In addition to the physical health we value so much, holistic wellness values the health of the mind and body.

If we understand the self to consist of a mind, body, and soul, then in holistic wellness, no compartment is valued above another. The spirit’s health is as important as the body’s health, and a mental tragedy is treated as carefully as a disease.

When problems arise, holistic wellness treats a person — not a disease — and try to participate in preventative treatment. Treatments options include things like therapy, meditation, fitness, and acupuncture.

Holistic wellness is generally understood of consisting of 5 separate components and being achieved by 4 different pillars.

5 Components of Holistic Wellness

Wellness practitioners have separated the self into 5 distinct components that each require attention to achieve holistic health.

The five components of holistic wellness are as follows:

  1. Physical
  2. Emotional
  3. Spiritual
  4. Intellectual
  5. Social

4 Pillars of Holistic Wellness

The four pillars of holistic wellness are the avenues through which we treat our 5 wellness components (physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social). The 4 pillars are…

  1. Movement & Exercise
  2. Healthy nutrition & Wholefoods diet
  3. Stress Management & Sleep
  4. Connection to community life & purpose

If you create and maintain fulfilling and healthful regimes in each of these areas, you will create health in each of your 5 components. Then, you have achieved a more full holistic wellness.

The Origins

In the 4th century B.C., Socrates said, “…the part can never be well unless the whole is well.” This is one of the earliest mentions of what we today understand to be holistic wellness, which originated well before Socrates.

The origins of holistic wellness really exist in ancient healers — well before the advent of modern medicine. The oldest documented wellness practices are Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda (ancient Indian medical tradition). In fact, we get acupuncture from Traditional Chinese Medicine and yoga from Ayurveda!

But even before these two medicines, healers used herbal medicines to achieve wellness.

Herbal medicine emphasizes balance. It’s the oldest healthcare known to mankind and has been used by people all over the world, throughout history.

Herbal medicine relies on the medicinal properties of plants, which has become an integral aspect of modern holistic wellness. Since the height of herbal medicine, science has actually proved that herbs do, in fact, have medicinal effects.

Intervention Practices Arise

In the 6th century B.C., Hippocrates made a claim that transformed the wellness practices of the time. He argued that the body is adept at healing and that medicine should encourage our self-healing processes to support health, rather than intervene post-illness.

The claim was widely disputed for centuries. When we discovered germs as the causation of disease, interventionist practices became the status quo. Medicines like penicillin abounded, and we lost an understanding of holistic medicine.

Late 1900’s Wellness

In the late 1900s, centuries later, people began to understand the limitations of interventionist medicine.

This is actually largely due to the discovery that smoking cigarettes hs negative effects on peoples’ health. Smoking taught society that preventative health has huge value. Compounded by the obesity epidemic, people began to really search for more comprehensive views of health and wellness.

In 1975, the first wellness conference was held, and it only grew from there. From 1980-2000, wellness gained loads of momentum.

2020 Wellness

The 21st century has been packed with discussions about health and wellness. Today, you have the option to pursue health in many avenues — from eastern medicinal practices, to CrossFit, to forest bathing, to spiritual counseling, to therapy, to gardening, to community support groups.

The entire movement is focused on simply achieving a happier and healthier self in a truly well-rounded way.

Container gardening is our favorite way to support our holistic wellness. Read more about the wellness benefits container growing here!

Lettuce Help You Grow