When I first started nursing school, I always thought health was the absence of disease. That makes sense, right? However, that does not necessarily define what health is. That’s like defining that light is the absence of darkness. It merely tells you what it isn’t rather that defines what it is. Therefore, let’s take a look at what health is and how to maintain health.
To start, I do not always agree with the World Health Organization, however, they define health fairly well. Health is “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
I don’t know about you, but for me, that sets fireworks off in my head. Basically, they are saying a balanced body, mind, and spirit equals a healthy individual. In the medical field, we call this homeostasis. Now, some people will say this definition means that everyone is sick because no one can ever be balanced in all areas, and they wouldn’t be wrong. It makes more money to make more labels and make pills to “fix” those labels. However, adding more labels and pushing more pills does nothing to solve the problem. If so, we should be seeing less disease and more “health.” Preventing people from getting sick or maintaining their health is more important.
Mental health is a large part of this spectrum. Only recently has mental health become a greater concern. Last semester, one of my professors mentioned how mental health is become more part of primary care, rather than a specialty. This is because it is becoming increasingly evident we have a mental health crisis in the United States. Generally, the body and mind operate in a symbiotic relationship. The body feeds the mind and the mind controls the body. However, when the mind is sick, the body can also become sick or vice versa. In the future, I plan on discussing the possibility of how nutrition might help mental deficiency and illness. In the mean time, having a healthy and balanced mind is critical to homeostasis within the body.
Social health is also important as well. How you treat your body through your lifestyle, diet, and exercise is also critical. Lifestyle is a large one that can be overlooked. When healthcare looks at lifestyle, they largely look at smoking, drugs, sexually transmitted diseases, etc. However, whoever the patient hangs around, or what music they listen to, or daily lifestyles can build or hinder your health. This should be mentioned to make the patient aware of how these things can change the patient, both for the better or worse. What you feed the body is not just about physical food, but also brain “food” as well. Social health ties very strongly into emotional/mental health because those experiences can shape the brain (literally).
In conclusion, health is an overall balance of the human body. As I alluded to, environmental factors play a very large role into health. In the future, we will go over how to be healthy and live a healthy life. For the time being, consider this a foundation of what health is and a blueprint of the posts to come. Until then, continue to live healthy!