What Health Is...
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
One of my first memories of being a sweet young first year university nursing student is sitting in a classroom during orientation and being required to write out a definition of health. At the time I recall thinking “what the heck do I know about health? I just got here.” In retrospect, I realise that I wasn’t actually “required” to do anything. The exercise was part of a Professor’s research and, no doubt, we were all given the usually blah, blah, blah consent speech but, since I knew even less about research than I did about health, I felt the jab of requirement all the same. I don’t remember what I wrote – it did fill up the entire page and I’m sure I rambled around quite aimlessly for most of the definition.
This exercise repeated itself at the beginning of each year – I suppose we were being measured to see if our definitions became fine-tuned after each successful year of education. By 4th year, I felt downright cocky as I shortened my definition to a few short words that I remember distinctly; “Health is spirit, body, and mind in balance.”
I remember it, of course, because I still believe it today. As a Health Coach, I am often asked by people what kinds of health conditions I encounter with my clients. While I have my fair share of clients losing weight, coping with diabetes and hypertension, I don’t limit my practice to those with physical body conditions. In my opinion, if any part of the health triad is out of whack, my client is facing a form of ill health and working to achieve balance in these three areas is the key to restoring health. As a result, I work with people who face a myriad assortment of health concerns. To answer the question, I offer this non-comprehensive but descriptive list of elements of what I believe health to be.
• freedom to think your own thoughts without fear of reprisal from the nasty little voice(s) in your head
• managing your time in a way that meets the needs of your own priorities, not just the priorities of others
• taking care of business – work, play, love – in a way that feels right for you
• choosing food to fuel you not fill your emotional voids
• connecting to your God – whatever your definition
• recognizing the width and depth and beauty of your human emotions and feeling them fully
• knowing your life purpose and living it without doubt
• taking your medications and eating your prescribed diet
• managing your finances in a way that supports your current and future needs
• owning your illness and taking responsibility for managing your own care and recovery
• loving yourself and developing the capacity for unconditional love of others
• living successfully in a world full of people who are different that you
• recognizing the depth of your ego’s influence on your choices
• practicing gratitude
• operating from a place of compassion and kindness
• treading lightly on your own ground
• the ability to laugh: heartily and with abandon
• investing in a healthy tomorrow by adding some fitness activity today
• considering fitness activities for all three aspects of health: physical activity for the body; learning or brain games for the mind; meditation or prayer for the spirit
• keeping an open mind
• affirming others for the good things they bring to your life
• follow your health provider’s instructions
• deal with your addictions
• stop procrastinating
The list could continue all day but I’m pretty sure you get the point. In my work, I have known tremendously healthy people who were dying of cancer and tremendously unhealthy people who looked, for all the world, like they were truly capable of immortality. It ends up being a matter of balance in the health trinity.
Spirit~Body~Mind in Balance