Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition that is “the absence of illness and disease.” A number of definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. In its most general sense, health is an absence of sickness or disease. However, many of us live in a culture that places more importance on wellness, being healthy, and living a long life than other generations did. Because of this emphasis on wellness, some of the health questions we have may seem absurd or unusual.
The definition of good health is not an easy one. Good health is an absence of illness and disease, but it is also the presence of one or more of the following: physical health, mental health, and social or emotional health. Each of these three areas is related to other aspects of our lives such as our relationships with others, our health and ability to work, and our finances. All of these areas are intertwined, and no aspect of good health can be adequately understood without the others.
Good health, then, is a balance between all of these aspects, a state in which we feel well-balanced and satisfied with our lives. The definition of balance itself is more complicated because it includes the presence of illness and disease, and the absence of absence. Some think that balance means a state in which there is no stress or tension, where we are at ease and our emotions are controlled, and where we live in a physical environment that is free of environmental threats but not polluted. These definitions are not mutually exclusive, but they do represent the most common understanding of what constitutes good health.
Another important element of good health is emotional well-being. Emotionally healthy people have a balanced emotional picture-one that encompasses joy, sadness, anger, stress, and other experienced states. A state in which these four states are strongly present is said to be balanced. A state in which any of these four is weak and miserable is described as suffering from illness. It is possible for someone to suffer from disease, illness, and disease, yet have a high emotional load because the emotional aspects are absent.
The third aspect of physical health that is closely associated with emotional well-being is physical health. People who are physically fit have higher energy levels, they are sleep better, and they are able to better manage their pain and physical illness. In addition, physically healthy people are stronger and less susceptible to disease. Those with higher levels of emotional well-being also have higher levels of physical health.
Health, then, can be broken down into seven dimensions. On a personal level, wellness can be viewed as having an abundance of high-quality bodily and emotional health, and lower stress and depression. At a societal level, wellness can be seen as higher civic achievement and higher quality of life. Lastly, on a physiological level, wellness can be measured through bodily function and the absence of ill-health or illness. By seeing these seven dimensions of overall health and how they relate to one’s emotional and physical well-being, it becomes easier to realize the importance of wellness for everyone.