Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “an assemblage of the physical, psychological and social elements that affect an individual’s ability to cope with life”. A variety of other definitions have also been used over time. However, the WHO emphasizes that “health” includes “the whole person” and should be evaluated in its totality. The goal of lifelong health care is to ensure the continuation of a person’s health and life-long values.
In industrialized nations, where the bulk of the population lives in a state of ignorance regarding basic health and illness, it is easy for people to fall through the cracks and develop some form of illness. In many cases, this ignorance results in poor nutritional status, low self-esteem and an overall poor health status. Health problems are more likely to compound and become much more severe if a person remains unaware of the disease’s progression and prognosis. It is this potentiality of serious illness that making healthy lifestyle choices such as the consumption of healthy foods and a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management and social support all so important to achieving good health.
According to the second definition, health is “the absence of disease or infirmity”. This second definition is based on the idea, “Absence of disease means absence of physical environment conducive to the spread of the disease”. A physical environment that is free of dust, pollution and chemical toxins can be an excellent microcosm of health. A healthy microcosm can be viewed by looking at one’s own behavior, community and environment. It is necessary to incorporate these three components in order to achieve an overall definition of health that encompasses all the aspects of good health:
In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is necessary to make the right choices. This choice refers to both the individual and his or her relationship with the world around him or her. The individual must choose to live in a community which has an optimal environment for physical well-being. Individuals who lead a healthy lifestyle also have stronger relationships with their partner and other family members.
The third definition of health highlights mental health as the extension of good health. Good health can be defined as the absence of illness, disease, disability or impairment. Mental wellbeing therefore, entails being psychologically healthy and free from fear and anxiety. The concept of mental wellness also includes the ability to learn new things, to solve problems and cope with anxiety and depression. Health and wellbeing are closely related, as they are often affected by each other and each can be improved through appropriate practices and medication.
These definitions provide a basic framework upon which to build our understanding of wellness. They are essential for educational purposes and to assist in the implementation of public policies that promote health and preventative measures. These definitions provide an initial framework upon which to build our understanding of what it means to be healthy and how to measure health and illness. By taking each of these definitions under consideration, we can develop a more comprehensive picture of the human condition and be better able to address its ramifications.