What is 'Healthy'?
Health is all-encompassing. Depending where you are on the spectrum of health (be it 'good' or 'bad' for lack of better terms), it can indicate how likely you are to stay alive. One huge nuance to this is all of the different aspects of health there is, namely: physical, mental, spiritual and social health, which I personally consider to be the 4 main pillars, but of course they each come with their own subcategories. Despite huge media attention and the limited education we’re taught in primary and secondary school about health, they both do not address that health is personal to everyone and a huge proportion of society do not have access to actually improve their health in a way that’s effective. This leads to a breakdown of information and the time taken to learn about personal health is reduced when other responsibilities become more pertinent. For some, incorporating 'healthy habits' into daily regimens is so far removed, due to lack of funding in healthcare and you guessed it … capitalism! In my opinion, this is what makes discussions and conversations centred around health as a ‘choice’ so grossly misinformed when the bigger picture is whether people have the adequate systems in place to even make choices needed to improve their health. For those that have the advantage, we must learn how to improve our health where we can and then work to help those that aren’t warranted the same opportunities. This will definitely be a discussion for a more informed and older Diana as I am committed to improving human health in the spaces I occupy in my future career.
If we look at health plainly however, what I assume gets lost in translation for a lot of people, is that as soon as one of those pillars mentioned above dip, the rest come down with them. Health is so intricate and intertwined that it can only thrive when all its aspects are fully and consciously considered by the individual. It wasn’t until the Covid-19 government lockdowns that I commenced my own conscious health journey to begin understanding how well I held all of my pillars up and how I could work to maintaining ‘good’ overall health.
So, how do I define these 4 pillars of health? Disclaimer: these are my personal views, which doesn’t dictate how everyone should view their own health, but they may well resonate with you.
Physical: The shape of your body does not and will never determine how healthy you are physically. Instead, consider if your body functions to the best of its ability during day-to-day tasks, given other chronic health conditions that may be present. On average, do you fuel your body with the right composition of nutrients for it to function properly? Do you have regular check ins with your body to address niggling aches and pains?
Mental: Do not expect to have good mental health days/be happy every single day, it’s extremely difficult to achieve that. Again, taking into consideration an individual’s diagnosis of any mental health disorders - on average do you have a more optimistic view of situations? Do you recognise when you are having a bad or good mental health day and thus, what key events contribute to each? How do you speak to yourself daily and what value do you think you hold?
Spiritual: If you follow a particular religion, I consider this type of health to be defined by your relationship to God and how you strengthen it. I don’t believe that to be spiritual, you have to be religious. Spirituality is that omnipresent feeling of knowing that there is a higher power and the recognition of how energies are exchanged in the world – this is a very personal journey which will be different to everyone.
Social: This does not mean you have a huge social circle or that you have to be extroverted. Do you have people around you that truly care about you and your ambitions in life? Do you care about and value the people around you? Are your relationships built on trust and respect?
Of course, there are more to these pillars than what I’ve described, nonetheless, I hope that as you read my definitions of the different aspects of health, you begin to understand their dependencies. Even though I realised this a long time ago, I didn’t take into account the time it would take to get my health at an equilibrium, so I didn’t invest any real effort. Mistakenly, like a lot of people, I assumed that if I attained a certain body shape then my physical health would be at its peak and everything else would fall into place – it obviously didn’t work out that way. After I finished my final year of my undergraduate degree, which was coincidentally in the middle of a global pandemic, I planned how I was going to take the first steps to conquer this ‘health balance’ and my outlook on life has improved tenfold already. I acknowledge and appreciate that this will be a lifelong series of actions which won’t necessarily make my life all sunshine and rainbows, but I do believe that I owe it to myself to respect the power of my mind, body and soul which will make me a better human to be around. If anything, people losing loved ones or hearing of people becoming seriously sick from Covid-19 made me really understand the most important things in life which to me are, your health and the health of those around you in all its forms. After all, health is wealth, right?
In an attempt to not make this blog post a novel and to give this topic the respect it deserves, my next blog will focus on my own personal journey over the last 4 months where I’ll dive right into my realisations on what’s been working, what’s not and how I’ve been developing these areas.
Until next time,