The 3 Aspects of a Healthy, Balanced Lifestyle

The World Health Organization defines health as “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Ok, so let’s break that down. The WHO has given us three things we need to focus on in order to achieve an optimally balanced lifestyle. 3 things! Only 3! But what they are also saying is just because we take our vitamins and wash our hands doesn’t mean we are healthy. We must find a balance between these 3 aspects of health in order to achieve balance. How do we do this?

1. Physical Health

Yeah, we have all been told to exercise more, eat less junk and get plenty of sleep. That’s old news. But why is it so difficult to do these things? There are many barriers that can prevent us from achieving these things such as lack of time, lack of energy, lack of money and lack of education. Here is a nugget of truth: physical inactivity is the number 1 cause of death in the developed world. Physical inactivity can lead to heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancer among other things. We don’t have to run marathons, climb mountains or cycle the entire of France, but we do have to move. If we don’t we will likely shorten our lives and have a pretty bad quality of it for the last few years. Call me blunt but it is the truth. Walk, garden, play with your dog or dance around your house. It doesn’t matter how it is done as long as there is 30 minutes a day of movement. You can break this 30 minutes up into smaller bits throughout the day! And while you are at it, eat well and get some sleep. 7-8 hours of it per night preferably.

2. Mental Health

Taking care of the mind is just as important as taking care of the body. Stress is the body’s response to a perceived threat and is not supposed to be a chronic state. When there is a perceived threat (for example your sister decides to hide behind a wall and jump out at you) your body immediately goes into fight or flight mode, the heart rates spikes and stress hormones are released into the body. Once the perceived threat has disappeared, the heart rate finds its baseline and the stress hormones are dissipated. However, when the perceived threat never disappears (think looming deadlines, big exams and relationship issues) the stress response can wreak havoc on the body and lead to anxiety, depression, cardiovascular problems, lack of concentration, digestion issues and weight fluctuation.

3. Social Health

This one is a bit trickier to break down because many of us have a different view on what being social is. Some need constant companionship while others prefer solitude. Fostering meaningful relationships and maintaining them is what I believe social health is. Loneliness has been found to contribute to depression and other mental health complications and can create a sense of not belonging. Belonging is one of Maslow’s foundation principles (only ranked behind physiological needs – food, water and warmth and safety – shelter and security) and without a sense of belonging (to a family, a friendship or a community), we cannot reach self-esteem or self-actualization which are necessary, as defined by Maslow, to be fully human.

So how do we strike a balance for these 3 aspects? Let the fun begin and let The Balanced Collective help find balance in our crazy lives.

Danielle BoydComment