Health is one of the most important factors that determine the happiness of a person, his/her quality of life, and even longevity. As defined by The World Health Organisation (WHO) in the preamble to its constitution, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
When we say health, we are generally talking about two factors: physical health and mental health.
Physical health is referred to as physical well-being of the body, which can be defined as something a person can achieve by developing all health related components of his/her lifestyle. Also called fitness, it reflects a person’s endurance, strength, flexibility and body tone in general. Some factors which contribute to physical well-being are nutrition, body weight management, avoiding drug and alcohol abuse, avoiding smoking, responsible sexual behaviour, good hygiene and getting adequate sleep. The key factors that contribute to a physically healthy body are exercise, nutrition and enough rest to recuperate energy lost during activity.
Mental health is difficult to define, it usually refers to a person’s psychological and emotional well-being. It also means a lack of any mental disorder. According to WHO, being mentally healthy is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. The concept of mental health is subjective. It is easier to define mental illness rather than mental health. It is not enough to say a mentally healthy person is free from mental illness. If you pick 100 people who do not suffer from any mental disorder or illness that could be diagnosed by a psychiatrist, some among them will be mentally more healthy than others. It can be generalised that being mentally healthy includes the ability to enjoy life, the ability to bounce back from adversity, the ability to achieve balance, the ability to be flexible and adapt, the ability to feel safe and secure, and making the best of what you have.
The factors that influence a healthy body are wide-ranging, and sometimes have a bigger impact on our health than even access and use of health care services. Some of the factors are:
- The place we live
- The state of our environment
- Our income
- Our relationship with friends and family
- Our level of education