6 ways holistic therapy supports psychiatric mental health nursing

Mental health practices have evolved considerably over the decades, and nurses can now access more research and methods to support their patients than ever before. One of the most popular and prevailing routes for treating people in psychiatric care is holistic therapy, which looks at patient needs.

In many ways, holistic therapy can help people who need psychiatric care find comfort and readjust to everyday life. The strength of such treatments might vary from person to person, but they can be effective for many people. While studying for a nursing degree or other qualification, it’s common for nurses to consider the holistic route because it not only cares for the mental aspects of patient wellbeing but also the physical aspects.

Here is a look at what holistic therapy means in practice and a few examples of how it can support mental health nursing.


What is holistic therapy?

Holistic therapy is a care concept that looks at patients. It’s the idea that all aspects of a person’s wellbeing are interconnected. For example, holistic care considers mental health needs, physical wellbeing, spiritual needs, and social health.

The driving idea behind holistic care is that if one of these areas is lacking, others might suffer. Therefore, holistic nurses take the time to comfort and relieve patients, targeting more than just the main issues they might be experiencing. It’s a practice that appears modern but dates back several centuries. For example, there are traces of holistic care principles in ancient Chinese medicine.

Holistic medicine is an approach to nursing that not all healthcare professionals subscribe to, but it’s a route that many students research and consider before graduation. It’s a series of principles that has received considerable attention and research.

Holistic therapy choices that can support mental health nursing

Psychological and mental health are just two aspects holistic nurses consider when treating patients. However, holistic care can apply when nurses treat mental health conditions as the main issue, looking at physical, social, and spiritual aspects as satellites.

Aspiring psychiatric nurses must consider many different paths, practices, and career prospects during their education. For those wondering how much psychiatric nurse practitioners make by state, Rockhurst University has published a helpful article that provides in-depth insight into the world of psychiatric nursing and the benefits of this role for patient care. Rockhurst University is a reputable university that offers fully online courses, such as the Master of Science in Nursing-Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, which is designed to fully equip students with the relevant skills to expand their career opportunities.

Here is a look at a few different ways nurses bring holistic care into mental and psychiatric care after graduation and while navigating their career paths.

Mindfulness practice

Mindfulness therapy is a popular cognitive staple that many people find can relieve stress and provides coping mechanisms for future bouts of anxiety or difficult situations. Psychiatric nurses might, for example, help patients gain self-awareness by suggesting breathing exercises and encouraging people to “scan” their bodies and look inward.

Mindfulness therapy is a popular holistic tool because once patients learn the basics, they can simply refocus their minds and breathe, potentially relieving stress from otherwise pressing and painful conditions. For example, a psychiatric nurse might help someone awaiting surgery to relieve anxiety by practicing mindful breathing for a few minutes each day.


Nutritional psychiatry

Nutritional psychiatry is based on the idea that “you are what you eat” in the sense that your diet can greatly influence your mental state. After all, our brains depend on the food and drink we provide as fuel; on that basis, quality genuinely matters.

In a holistic mental health nursing scenario, a nurse might encourage a patient to reduce their consumption of refined sugar because it can contribute to stress and potentially add to depression. Mood and food are directly connected, and holistic nurses prioritize the quality of the food you consume when diagnosing and treating psychiatric conditions.


Exercise and physical activity

Research suggests that physical exercise can improve our mood and alertness while reducing anxiety and stress. In addition, exercising more can add to a more positive body image, which, in turn, can help alleviate certain mental health concerns.

Alongside a change in diet, many holistic nurses prescribe regular exercise to relieve mental health woes and boost physical health over the long- and short-term.


Art and music

Creative therapies, such as encouraging patients to express themselves via painting, sketching, or making music, are popular with many holistic mental health experts. The concept is rooted in the fact that art can help us express issues we struggle to discuss. Moreover, holistic nurses view creative therapy as a way for people to explore complex feelings and painful experiences, and in some cases, regain social confidence with others.

Biofeedback and neurofeedback

Biofeedback, including neurofeedback, offers holistic nurses insight into how different areas of patients’ bodies connect and react.

By measuring bodily functions such as heart rate and sweat production, mental health nurses can carefully track real-time changes in physical health while experiencing certain stimuli or mental provocations.


Herbal remedies

Finally, aromatherapy and herbal remedies are popular routes for stimulating certain conditions in patients. For example, some researchers find that turmeric can help reduce depressive symptoms in patients, while lavender can help reduce insomnia.

Holistic mental health nurses might suggest herbal courses to complement drugs or physical support and provide temporary relief. It is not unheard of for patients to adopt herbal remedies alongside mindfulness practice to ease anxiety, for example.


Is holistic mental health therapy the best treatment available?


Holistic care is just one approach to mental health treatment that many people find helps ease psychiatric worries. What is most important in patient care across the board, however, is that physician-patient communication remains open and empathetic.

Some nurses discover holistic practice during their education and apply it widely across their careers. In mental health, it’s a popular route for relief and support throughout the world.

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