Seeking overall wellness through holistic medicine

Bill Hettler is a retired physician who, nearly 60 years ago, believed his patients’ path to health was best determined and maintained in six ways. Collectively, the ideas became the philosophy of the National Wellness Institute.

Hettler became a co-founder of the Wisconsin-based organization in 1977, eight years after beginning to formulate his Six Dimensions of Wellness model. The idea first percolated while John Phair, M.D., a professor of preventative medicine, was giving the commencement speech at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

While Hettler and his medical student colleagues studied disease and treatment, Phair spoke instead of the importance of balance and awareness in medicine and wellness. Skepticism prompted curiosity, which led to the philosophy Hettler introduced a decade later.

The dimensions for wellness espoused by the National Wellness Institute, numerous other national organizations and individual businesses and sole practitioners, are intellectual, emotional, social, spiritual, occupational and physical. Several variations have been introduced over the years, but the basic idea is that balancing these areas can improve individuals’ overall well-being.

Stacey Seward Vandiver, owner of the recently opened SoulBody Studios in Fort Myers, is among the Southwest Florida holistic wellness providers who tout the principles and benefits of holistic wellness developed by Hettler. But she also understands a lack of understanding of the words, particularly when they’re combined.

“Holistic is a buzzword; wellness is a buzzword, right?” says Vandiver. “How do they work together? Holistic could mean a number of different things and so could wellness. When you put them together, in my opinion, it’s a beautiful combination.”

Practitioners believe holistic wellness is a complement to traditional medical care, including medication and surgical procedures. It’s not a replacement. From diet to exercise, spiritual counseling to acupuncture and chiropractic treatments to psychotherapy, holistic practices espouse achieving optimal health and wellness.

With SoulBody Studios, Vandiver’s belief is “that true well-being is a balance of mind, body and soul.” Its motto is “Movement, Strength, Recovery.” Classes are diverse, from low-impact interval training to barre and Pilates to a restorative class that incorporates stretching and other body movements and foam roller exercises.

“For the layperson who may have thought, ‘Oh, it’s just exercise or your diet or it’s just this or that,’ I think COVID put it (wellness) in front of everyone. It’s more in the mainstream,” says Vandiver.

“There are some fatter pillars that support it. Yes, it’s your nutrition, yes, it’s your sleep. And there are other pillars that play a factor in it. They are important, but maybe not as fat of a pillar as the others. Let’s take relationships and take your spirituality, creativity and career.”

Vandiver reiterates these areas support wellness and make an individual feel well-rounded and connected. Combined with holistic practices that succinctly determine the root of problems, holistic wellness naturally creates whole health.

“What we are doing is trying to diversify your routine,” says Vandiver. “We are not going to help you with your career. We are not going to help you with your spirituality, necessarily. But we are going to bring certain pillars into play. Your exercise, your movement is really important.

“What SoulBody believes in is that you don’t need to beat yourself up. You don’t need to train really hard and pound yourself to keep it healthy and moving, right? There is that saying, ‘Train smarter, not harder.’”

Root Causes Holistic Health and Medicine, also in Fort Myers, stresses wellness as a health collective. “We look at you as a whole person, and not just a collection of symptoms to be corrected,” its website states. “We strive for balance and wellness through lifestyle management, nutrition and naturally occurring compounds and therapies whenever possible.”

The platform of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland, concurs.

“Patients are increasingly looking for a holistic approach to medicine, which addresses the well-being of the whole person—body, mind and spirit,” the organization maintains. “For holistic medicine practitioners, each patient is seen as a unique individual, not a cluster of symptoms. Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Holistic Health Care Providers

Access Holistic Health & Hypnosis


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My Naturo Wellness


Root Causes Holistic Health and Medicine




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