What does it mean to be healthy?
Does it mean eating organic food, getting enough sleep, exercising an hour a day, practicing yoga, or something else entirely?
The view on health, and what it means to be healthy is constantly changing. In the past, health was always viewed as being free of disease or illness. This viewpoint then changed in 1948, when the WHO defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. And more recently, health has been viewed as the ability to adapt to life’s stressors.
It also seems that society has it’s own definition of health, with a strong focus on weight, nutritional intake, and fitness levels. Currently, health is also being shaped by health and wellness influencers’, with their perspectives being shown through their social media posts.
But with no concrete definition of health, how do we know if we are truly healthy? And what guidelines should we follow when striving towards good health?
1) FOCUS ON HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL
I think the key to good health is focusing on how you want to feel mentally, physically, and emotionally, and then working towards that feeling. For example, if you want to feel less stress, then your focus will need to be on incorporating more mindfulness and relaxation activities. Whereas, if you are wanting to feel more energized, start looking at your sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Your body is smart and it will give warning signs if something needs attention. So if you want to be healthy, you need to learn to listen and react to your body’s changes and warning signs.
2) DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
Maintaining health also involves avoiding the ‘herd mentality’, and instead focusing on what works for you. In order to create lasting health habits, we need to be flexible and discover what aligns with our individual needs (rather than those of others). However, when it comes to being healthy, sometimes it can be easy to fall into the trap of what’s trendy. So it’s important to realize that what may be trendy, might not be what you necessarily need to be healthy. Therefore, it’s important to experiment with different foods, do workouts that you enjoy, and develop wellness routines that work with your lifestyle.
3) TAKE BABY STEPS
I also think that we all know what we need to do to become healthier. However, we’ve become bombarded with too much information. We are too overwhelmed to start implementing any healthy habits or lifestyle changes so we remain stuck in the same unhealthy patterns. To overcome this, we must make small increments towards a healthy lifestyle. Overall, every small step counts, and progress only comes with consistency.
4) PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION
Finally, an important aspect of good health is releasing perfectionist tendencies. When striving towards health, perfectionism can really be counterproductive. This is because perfectionism usually either causes procrastination or defeat. In the first instance, perfectionism can really prevent you from becoming healthy because you tell yourself that you won’t be able to achieve the goal. And as a result of this belief, you put off the tasks and don’t bother trying. Perfectionism also often causes us to set too high of standards. And when we don’t meet these standards, we give up altogether.
Overall, being healthy can mean different things to different people. And what may be healthy for one person may not reflect the needs of another. However, what is universal is the idea that with some experimentation and implementation, you can learn to be healthy.