Hello everybody! Welcome back to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to help people find their way to a healthier lifestyle. I mostly talk about exercise and its science, which is my area of expertise, but I also talk about nutrition, sleeping habits and many other subjects related to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.
Recently I have started studying my Certificate IV in Nutrition. I’m learning lots of new things, and refreshing some other from college. In a few months I will be a qualified Nutritional Advisor and I will be able to bring more nutritional tips and advice to this blog.
One of the things I’ve learnt in the first unit is how subjective the definition of health is and what the dimensions of health are.
Today, the definition that the Constitution of the World Health Organization gives is ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’.
The definition of health, nonetheless, varies depending on one’s perspective. Every individual has their own definition of health subject to their personal experiences. Many people believe that health is the mere absence of illness, whereas others are of the opinion that enjoying a good spiritual health is more important than being physically healthy or the non-existence of a long-term disease, such as cancer.
Given the diversity of definitions of health, it’s important to understand the Five Dimensions of Health.
Although all these are pretty obvious aspects of health, going through them and breaking down item by item made me realise how equally important all of them are in order to be healthier.
- Mental health
Life is full of events that sometimes escape our control. Despite being an amazing worker, your boss doesn’t treat you well and pushes you to the limit, or even though you’re a great parent, your teenager son is in a rebellious state that you are not capable of controlling. Beyond the mere absence of mental illness, like depression or anxiety, to enjoy mental health the individual is capable of coping with every day stress and the obstacles life throws at you with a positive attitude.
Mental health, as we have discussed in many other posts, is strongly connected to physical health. When we do exercise, we increase the secretion of certain hormones, such us dopamines. These hormones have a great impact in our mood and therefore, our mental health.
- Emotional health
Emotional health is the ability of analysing your own feelings, recognise them and canalise them, accepting the good and bad feelings and express them properly. It’s strongly linked with mental health because it helps us coping with the every day stressors with a positive attitude.
It was previously thought that success in our life is what makes us happier and more positive about life, but it’s actually the other way around. Many studies have demonstrated that individuals with a happy and positive attitude are more capable of setting a realistic and approachable goal, and more likely to achieve it. This has an impact in the individual’s self-esteem.
It’s been shown that after a stressful life event, such as an important exam, or a situation at work or at home, the risk of getting sick or having cardiovascular diseases increase.
People with satisfactory emotional health are also capable of recognising other people’s feelings. This is called emotional intelligence. The advantage of this is that the individual can treat the affected person accordingly and with sympathy.
- Spiritual health
My yoga teacher used to say that no matter which illness or disease she has, if she has spiritual health, she will be healthy. Many religious people see death as the opportunity to reencounter with their god, not as something to be scared of. But you don’t need to believe in any religion to have a good spiritual health.
Spiritual health is having a purpose in life. Individuals that enjoy high levels of this type of health wake up in the morning with a feeling of worthiness, ready to have another day enjoying the human capacities. Many people reach spiritual health trough altruistic actions, helping other people.
- Social health
This is the ability of making and maintaining healthy relationships with other people. To achieve this, we must know how to behave and maintain socially acceptable standards. This means that an abusive relationship is not considered a healthy social interrelation.
Like I have mentioned in other posts, the hormone oxytocin is the hormone of social relationships. Its impact in our mood is very high, strongly affecting our mental health.
To have a healthy social life, we must know how to communicate with others and we need to be capable of having intimacy with the other, and a level of accountability.
Like Charles Darwin once said, ‘a man’s friendships are one of the best measures of his worth’.
- Physical health
This type of health is commonly confused with fitness. While fitness refers to someone’s physical capabilities, such as endurance, strength, balance, agility, and flexibility, physical health refers to our quality of life, longevity, a better ageing process, and factors like low blood pressure, absence of pain or disease, and lower levels of stress.
Understanding this is very important in order to avoid frustration and an unbalanced approach. Someone who does not lift a heavy load at the gym, or someone who is not capable of running faster than 20 km/h might perfectly be much healthier than any Instagram fitness guru. In fact, behind all those perfect lives, there are many other factors that affect someone’s overall health. But that is a subject for another post!
Some of the things discussed today have been previously examined in my post “13 reasons why you should do exercise”. It’s so far my most successful post, check it out if you’ve missed it!
That’s it for today! I really hope that you enjoy this post explaining the different aspects of health. If you like what I do and you want to support this project, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and comment! Thank you!