How do you measure health?

How do you measure health?

Formal definitions of health relate health to the absence of disease and the presence of wellbeing in mind and body. The World Health Organisation, for example, define health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, where the Merriam-Webster dictionary site health as the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit. … and the definition presented in the Collin’s dictionary is the condition of the person’s body and the extent to which it is free from illness, a sense of wellness and not suffering.

Most of us in today’s developed world view health in a holistic way that encompasses body, mind, spirit and social wellbeing. This view implies that good health is not possible unless all components are in good shape.

Then there’s the continuum of health. Poor health can be defined as one who is suffering illness, disease or injury where good health can be defined as one who has an absence of illness, disease and injury. Does that mean that great health is aligned with a marathon runner who is free of injury, is physically well, mentally stable, attends church on Sundays and has lots of friends?

Health is dynamic; it fluctuates, shifts and changes sometimes without warning. The balance between mind, body, spirit and social harmony can tip and health falls towards a deficit. Or, something completely out of our control effects our health in a positive or negative way.

adapted from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Abraham Maslow 1943)

In our current climate, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs comes to mind. This theory asserts that humans are only capable of satisfying ‘higher level’ needs if ‘foundation’ needs are met. For instance, if someone is struggling for survival, then they are not thinking about rushing to pump class. If they are concerned about illness, they are not likely to book an adventure holiday. Basically, we need to address our base needs before we can grow and flourish.

So, in our current circumstances, we are all focussed on illness. Avoiding contracting or spreading COVID-19. This impacts our other segments of health – causes mental stress, sleep problems, prevents us from accessing gyms, impacts our relationships, affects our access to foods and more. These side-effects, if left unchecked, can become serious issues, spiralling into mental and physical conditions that may be long-lasting.

Taking 5 or 10 minutes each day to do one small thing that supports your wellbeing can help keep stress in check, quieten the mind for sleep and keep the heart and muscles working for positive health.

What will you do today for your Health Break?

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