When you hear the words “whole health” what comes to mind? Healthy food? Physical fitness? Getting enough sleep?
Whole health is just one of many terms used to describe your overall health and well-being. Wholeness implies that you are tending to your unique needs in a holistic way, giving each aspect of your life what it needs—physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.—to keep you at your best.
The problem is that most of us tend to our health in a fragmented way, only focusing on our needs when we’re suffering symptoms of an illness, strained relationships, or some other consequence of self-neglect.
Instead of giving our health the attention it deserves, we put our needs to the side so we can support and manage the needs of others. That’s not inherently wrong or bad (especially for parents and caregivers who are in a particular season of life), but if we consistently shrug away our own needs, we’ll eventually run out of steam. And that means we aren’t able to show up for others the way we want to either.
The truth is our bodies need rest, nourishment, movement, spiritual connection, healthy relationships, and intellectual stimulation to functioning optimally.
As you begin to invest in learning how to support each of these areas of your life, that’s when you’ll also begin to experience “whole” health. And the good news is, your journal can help you get there.
Finding Wholeness Through Journaling
There are many ways that journaling can help you move toward wholeness.
For one thing, journaling forces you to slow down and look inward. Introspection enables you to notice the subtle things that are happening inside your body—your thoughts, beliefs, and the tiny aches and pains you ignore on a daily basis. Journaling can help you see how your everyday habits are playing out in terms of your health.
In many ways, expressive writing is about truth-telling. It’s an opportunity to be brutally honest with yourself about where things stand with your health. It’s an opportunity to explore your fears, your desires, and your obstacles. But perhaps more importantly, your journal can help you get to the bottom of why you aren’t already experiencing whole health.
Finding wholeness through journaling is a simple process, and it only requires a little bit of your time and focus.
Questions to Answer in Your Journal
Answering questions is one of the easiest journaling strategies. That’s why journal prompts are so popular. If you’re just getting started with journaling, blank pages can feel intimidating and many people struggle to know what to write about when they sit down to journal.
A great way to start a journaling practice is to answer some simple questions. Personal inquiry often leads to life-changing answers. And those answers will ultimately drive your willingness to take action to improve your health.
Here are a few questions to help you assess the current state of your health, so you can begin moving toward wholeness:
What Are You Gaining from the Status Quo?
Every choice has benefits. Even if you think back to some of your poorest decisions, you can probably recall at least one benefit. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have chosen it.
Obviously, we can’t see the future. We don’t always know how our choices will play out in the long run. Sometimes the outcome isn’t what we were hoping for. Nevertheless, every choice you’ve ever made had more pros than cons in your mind at the time.
Asking yourself what you’re gaining from the status quo can help you understand why you do the things you do. It can help you understand why you’ve developed certain habits instead of others. This is important because all habits have an impact on your health.
What are you gaining from the status quo?
What are the benefits to maintaining your current habits and not making a change? Your answers to this question will help you understand what you’re gaining from your current lifestyle, and also why it’s so hard for you to implement changes. That’s because change almost always requires you to give up the status quo—and all the benefits that come along with it.
To answer this question, you’ll need to examine your current health-related behaviors—eating, exercising, sleeping, etc. Every habit you’ve developed has something positive attached to it. For example, if you don’t exercise regularly, what are you gaining from it? Maybe it’s that you don’t have to feel the discomfort of muscle soreness. Maybe not going to the gym allows you to sleep in for an extra hour. What is it that you like about the status quo?
Consider these questions:
- What do you every day, every week, every month?
- How do you spend your time?
- Who do you spend time with?
- Which foods do you eat most often?
- What does your sleeping pattern look like?
Ask yourself what you’re gaining from each of those things. Spend time in your journal assessing each of your health-related habits and try to come up with at least 3 things you’re gaining from them.
What Are You Missing Out on Because of the Status Quo?
Now, it’s time to examine your current habits through a different lens. What are your habits keeping you from? As with most habits, there are upsides and downsides. This question will help you examine the downside to your habits.
What Are You Missing Out on Because of the Status Quo?
What are the disadvantages of maintaining your current habits? Your answers to this question will help you understand your desires and motivations, which can help you make positive changes. Meaningful change almost always requires a meaningful reason. In other words, you have to uncover your “why” before you’ll be ready to take action.
Consider your answers to the above questions, but now come up with at least 3 things you’re missing out on by maintaining your current habits. These answers will likely provide the inspiration and motivation you need to get started on a healthier path.
Defining Whole Health
Defining “whole” health is personal. Only you can define what it means for you.
What does whole health look like for you?
Use your journal to describe it in detail what whole health means for you personally. Think about your status quo and how you’d like your life to be instead.
- What does whole health look like?
- What does whole health feel like?
- What would whole health enable you to do that you can’t do today?
- What would you like to move toward now?
Getting and Staying on Track
To achieve whole health, you’ll need to set some clear goals. Be sure that each goal aligns with at least one of the “whys” you listed in your journaling experience.
And remember: all habits begin as experiments. That means you can make adjustments if they aren’t working for you. If you get bored with a new habit, change it. If your life circumstances change, your goals will likely change too. You can always create a new habit and change is inevitable.
Additional Journal Prompts
Here are some additional journal prompts to help you achieve and maintain whole health:
- What are you willing to do right now to improve your health?
- What do you need in order to get started?
- What’s the biggest obstacle that’s standing in the way of your health?
- When was the last time you felt “whole”? Describe that feeling in your journal.
Like most of the important things in life, achieving whole health is a personal growth experience. And it’s something that only you can define and something only you can achieve.
Are you ready to reclaim your health?
Take the Whole Health Journaling Challenge and get started right now.
Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as providing or replacing medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Author bio: STACY FISHER, RDN, LD, CDCES is the founder of LivingUpp, a lifestyle design company that teaches women how to use a self-care planning system to create more ease and better health.
She is a registered dietitian and lifestyle coach with 20+ years of experience in the healthcare industry, where she’s worked with large companies such as Dell, Boeing, and Nike. Stacy is the author of The Lifestyle Design Planner, a flexible life organizer for high-achievers who value self-care and simplicity.