The word health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is ‘a condition of total physical, mental and emotional well-being with no interference with normal functioning.’ A wide variety of other definitions have also been applied to the concept of health. In general, health is described as a state of well-being with the ability to enjoy life to its fullest. It therefore includes being able to see, hear, walk, feel secure and engage in activities of daily living.
People in the developed world strive to attain wellness. This has increased over the years due to societal developments and economic influences. Societies that emphasize good health are likely to have higher rates of survival and longevity, and lower instances of major illnesses such as obesity, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These factors lead to lower health risks. The process of achieving wellness, though, involves more than just watching diet and physical activity. A comprehensive approach to good health requires a certain amount of lifestyle changes in behavior as well.
One way of thinking about health is to think of it as having four separate components – physical well-being, psychosocial well-being, cognitive function and behavioral health. Achieving optimal psychological and behavioral health depends on achieving balance among these four components. For example, physical well-being refers to being able to get up and walk around, maintain a balanced body weight and perform basic bodily functions. Psychological well-being is related to your attitude and outlook towards life, and is influenced by your beliefs, expectations and support system. Achieving psychosocial well-being is related to your experiences and behaviors, such as your relationships with other people and your social network, experiences and thoughts, and how you cope with stress.
Achieving optimal physical health requires paying attention to your emotional and physical health, as well as to your relationship with food, exercise, home environment, work and leisure. The quality of your relationships with others has a big impact on your physical well-being. Paying attention to your emotional health also involves managing stress, learning stress management skills and developing a positive mental outlook towards life. Developing a positive mental outlook can be achieved by putting yourself in situations that make you feel relaxed and at ease. People who have a positive mental outlook tend to be happier with their day-to-day lives and are less likely to experience mental illness.
Achieving optimal psychological and behavioral health also requires making sure you eat a well-balanced diet, get regular sleep and exercise regularly. Attending therapy sessions and receiving counseling can also help you improve your overall health and well-being. Counselors will help you deal with stress, improve your skills and abilities in dealing with problems, improve your sense of purpose and meaning in life and deal with conflict and other tough issues that might be affecting your mental health. They can also help you develop ways to deal with your depression, anxiety and other emotional health concerns, including learning effective communication skills.
Although the causes of mental illness are still unknown, there is some evidence to suggest that your mental health can affect your physical health. Poor coping skills, low self-esteem and a history of poor health are all associated with higher rates of mental illness. In order to maintain optimal mental health, it is important that we take care of our physical health as well.