i get a lot of questions about what my nutrition practice entails, and what makes it holistic. since i generally don’t post the kind of content we’re used to seeing from wellness practitioners on social media–what you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat, advice for treating medical conditions, or the promotion of specific supplements–i see how my role as a healer may be unclear!
a large part of what inspired me to practice wellness through a holistic lens was my frustration with not being treated as a unique and whole individual, and i believe that a truly effective wellness practice is rooted in, as @thepointacu writes, “a completely personalized, and personal, experience.”
what does de-personalized medical care look like? a common practice is treating symptoms without consideration of their root causes–which means without consideration of the patient as a whole.
that was certainly my experience with allopathic (ie conventional) medicine. at various times, i was prescribed pharmaceuticals for depression, anxiety, panic attacks, migraines, asthma, allergies, an autoimmune thyroid condition and a chronic illness called cyclic vomiting syndrome. i was rarely** asked about my diet, hydration habits, digestion, sleep hygiene, chemical exposure, history of trauma or whether i had a support system, among many many other things that can both inform and improve symptoms. i was never** referred for complementary treatment, like chiropractic, acupuncture or nutrition.
[** = with the exception of working with integrative MDs or DOs]
unfortunately, someone practicing from a holistic framework can be just as prescriptive in their recommendations, especially on social media. take a suggestion to treat constipation with magnesium instead of a laxative, for example. it’s a great recommendation, and certainly gets closer to treating the symptom at the root. but without knowing what specifically is contributing to someone’s constipation, this recommendation will nonetheless lack the individualism absolutely critical to holistic treatment, overlooking the underlying reasons for a symptom and what they may be communicating about a body and its needs.
we’ve been told that practitioners–whether the ones we seek care from in person or ones we encounter in articles, books or online–are experts, and that their job is to tell us what’s wrong with us and how to fix it. and while they may truly be experts in diagnosing conditions and treating symptoms, a practitioner is not an expert in YOUR experience–and it’s the specifics of YOUR experience that are the key to sustainably addressing YOUR symptoms and system!
in my opinion, the job of a wellness practitioner is not just to tell you what’s wrong with you or how to fix it–even though that’s what we’ve been programmed to believe and expect. rather, it is our job as your healers to be your partner on your journey of healing, to help support you in the curiosity, awareness, and skill-building necessary to empower you to have an experience of wellness and fulfillment.
i believe that healing requires the following (very personalized) things:
- an ability to listen to AND hear our bodies
- an understanding of what they are communicating
- access to a toolkit of things that help meet our bodies’ needs
- knowledge of how and when to use the contents of such a toolkit
in short: CURIOSITY, AWARENESS, TRUST, RESPECT, RESOURCES, LITERACY, PATIENCE and PRACTICE.
and in my opinion, the role of your practitioners should be as your PARTNER on the journey of wellness, to teach you and help you implement and practice these building blocks of healing & wellbeing.
i do think non-individualized wellness education plays an important role, especially at a time when many of us seek out health info on social media. for example, if no one ever told you about a more preventive or holistic approach you wouldn’t know to seek it out! but i think it’s important for this information to go in-hand with a recommendation to consult a practitioner and determine what’s appropriate and effective for YOU specifically.
the truly magical thing to me about a holistic approach is the feeling of empowerment that can come from understanding and seeing how every aspect of what goes on physiologically, emotionally and environmentally is interconnected in our overall experience. but this awareness can definitely feel overwhelming, especially if it’s new, and it may seem easier to turn away from it and shut it down.
please know that getting support so you can feel safe & empowered in your own experience is where the relief & sustainable solutions are. people like me are that support! so if you have questions about holistic wellness or about how to find appropriate care for any dis-ease you’re experiencing, please reach out! you can read more about how i practice, find me on instagram at @healwithmasha, or schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.