Everybody’s talking about “health”.
How to stay healthy.
How to improve your health.
How to be more health-conscious.
But the problem is, all too often the topic of “health” only focuses on a couple of areas, mainly physical and nutritional. But when you think about the concept of overall health, you have to consider all the different aspects that contribute to good health. So today I’m gonna share the 10 most pivotal aspects of health. When we grow and nurture these different areas, we will in turn develop healthier habits and a more balanced lifestyle.
It’s important to note that health is more all-encompassing than a balanced diet and adequate exercise. It involves stimulating your brain, feeling socially connected, practicing sound spending and budgeting, and feeling grounded spiritually. It’s essential that we understand our health is a reflection of our overall being, not just how we look or eat. Building good, lasting habits in these different aspects of health impacts our mood, satisfaction, and overall sense of purpose. So let’s dive into each aspect as it relates to our overall HEALTH!
Social health means finding satisfying interpersonal relationships, friendships, and community. When we feel a sense of connection to our community, it gives us a sense of being known, loved, and appreciated. Practicing healthy habits in this particular aspect of health means finding people who you can do life with. People that challenge, encourage, and love you for who you are. Toxic relationships have no place in good social health. If you find yourself in a relationship or friendship that feels one-sided or unhealthy, step back and assess why you are in this relationship. Does this person make you want to be better? Do you feel like you can be yourself around them? It’s important to find people to be in relationship with who are going to spur you on to be your best self.
Spiritual health is a groundedness and peace between the physical and psychological. Practicing good spiritual health means knowing that you aren’t alone in this journey and knowing where to find peace and comfort. For me, I find my comfort in my faith as a Christian. When I spend time reading scripture, being prayerful, and sitting in stillness, I am much more able to combat the daily grind, because I know my strength and courage come from the Lord. Healthy spiritual habits include quiet time, prayer walks, investing in my knowledge of God’s word, and discussing scripture with other believers. Good spiritual health isn’t something you mark off a to-do list, it’s something you actively practice and seek out daily.
Physical health involves the overall condition of your body in regards to exercise, lifestyle choices, body habitus, sleep hygiene, and sexuality. It’s more than just how you look, it’s about the choices you make that affect your energy, stress levels, and risk of disease. When we prioritize our physical health, positive trends follow. Regular exercise can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and improve your quality of sleep. Cardio can help you maintain a healthy weight, decrease your cortisol levels which correlate to stress, and improve your performance during intercourse. Good physical health has tremendous benefits for your overall health.
Emotional health involves control over your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Good emotional health can lead to fruitful social and occupational health. It has repercussions for a variety of areas in our lives. I find that in my own personal life, my emotional health is a great indicator of my overall spirit. When I’m struggling with feelings of anger, depression, loneliness, dissatisfaction, or FOMO (just to name a few), I find it’s often because I’m not tending to my emotions as I should. It’s easy to disregard our feelings in a world brimming with criticism. Emotions can often be viewed as a weakness, when in fact they are important roadsigns we need to pay attention to. Knowing why you feel the way you feel and acting appropriately in response to that feeling leads to healthy behaviors and actions.
We need purpose. Plain and simple. Depression and anxiety run rampant when our sense of purpose is lost. So what does purposeful health look like? Many times it plays a significant part in occupational, spiritual, and emotional health. When our jobs feel purposeless or when we lack a specific calling on our life, feelings of aimlessness and uncertainty follow suit. But when purpose is found, everything else seems to fall into place.
This may be the most challenging aspect of health to explain, but let me give it a try. Environmental health encompasses all the different areas of the environment that have an effect on your quality of life and general health. This may include air quality, food sources/quality, water sources, chemical exposures, and cleaner living. There’s been an incredible push in the beauty, food, and lifestyle industry over the past couple years to provide the general public with more products that are environmentally-conscious. And as more research comes out about how certain substances affect our integumentary, respiratory, endocrine, and reproductive systems, people are becoming more aware of what they consume. Good environmental health equates to deeper understanding of what you’re consuming, using, and buying and how it affects your body and the world at large.
Occupational health is closely linked to purposeful health. It involves healthy work relationships, adequate work opportunities based on your skill set, and a general sense of protection/safety in your workplace. Good occupational health makes way for good social, emotional, and purposeful health.
Nutritional health is maintained by balancing nutrient intake with your specific daily energy requirements. It includes mindful eating, portion control, and a balanced diet. When I say “diet” thought, I’m not referring to any specific type of diet (Atkins, Keto, Vegan, etc.), just a balanced daily intake of fruits, vegetables, carbs, proteins, and fats. Understanding what you’re eating, where it came from, and how it got to your plate are all important things to consider in regards to nutritional health.
Fiscal health involves mindful spending, saving, and budgeting. When we use our resources with wisdom and integrity, oftentimes we’ll experience peace and security. Knowing when to invest, spend, and save can have major implications on our emotional and spiritual health. When I got married, finances were the most challenging area I had to learn about the reality of two becoming one. It’s vitally important that you create goals together so that you can manage expectations with reality. And if you’re single, laying out your personal goals and expectations can help you devise a feasible plan for your future. Whether that’s to buy a house, a car, a pet, have a child, or relocate, talking through and mapping out goals allows you to create a future uniquely yours.
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death” – Albert Einstein
Absolutely love this quote! We need mental stimulation not just when we’re children, but also when we’re adolescents, adults, and aging. Good intellectual health lends itself to lifelong learning, which includes reading, writing, educating, and studying. We should never tire of learning and growing in our knowledge. Honestly, I hate it when I leave a shift in the Emergency Department and feel like I haven’t learned anything. We should always be striving to learn and grow in our understanding of this world.
Now in discussing these 10 aspects, I am by no means asserting I’m an expert in overall health. I strive to maintain a balanced, healthy lifestyle, but some days are better than others. Some days I’m slaying at emotional and physical health, and other days I’m struggling in the spiritual and social health department. And that’s okay! It’s important to bring awareness and understand that health is much more multi-faceted than what society and culture project. We are complex beings and finding balance between all these areas can be challenging. But knowing your areas of strength and weakness will help you find and achieve more balance overall. I pray that this exercise in exploring the various dimensions of health empowers you to seek change and become your best self. You got this!