Health Concepts

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HEALTH: THE ROOT TO HAPPINESS

Health is often taken for granted, and its value is no fully understood until it is lost. ‘Be healthy’, ‘I am fit and healthy’ etc are some of the common phrases we use every day. But in the real scenario, are we really healthy? To understand this, we must understand the concept of health. If you are not suffering from any major illness, does it mean that you are healthy? Let’s find out the answer.

CONCEPT OF HEALTH

Modern medicine is often accused of its preoccupation with the study of disease and neglect the study of health. And thus our ignorance about health is extreme. As per the definition given by WHO (World Health Organization), health is the state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not mere absence of any disease or infirmity. This is a very broad concept and implies a perfect harmony of the internal environment of man and external environment consisting of the physical, chemical and biological surroundings. It includes aging well, longevity, quality of life, freedom from pain etc.

Health is a common theme in most of the cultures. The ancient India and Greek shared the concept of health as being at harmony with the self, the community, the God and the cosmos. This show us how closely related is the concept of health of ancient India and the modern medicine.

DIMENSIONS OF HEALTH

Health is multi-dimensional. The WHO definition envisages three major dimensions- the physical, the mental and the social. The spiritual and the emotional dimensions of health are also now taken into account. The dimensions function and interact with one another, though each has its own nature.

Physical Dimension:

The state of physical health implies the notion of ‘perfect functioning’ of the body. This is the state in which every cell and every organ is functioning at optimum capacity and in perfect harmony with the rest of the body. It refers to the traditional definitions of heath as the absence of disease and injury.

Mental dimension:

It is not the mere absence of mental illness. Good mental health is the ability to respond to the many varied experience of life with ease and a sense of purpose. Earlier, the mind and the body were considered as independent entities. Researches proved that this is not correct and that psychological factors can induce all kinds of illness, not only mental illness. For instance, prolonged stress can cause physical illness like headaches, heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, diabetes etc.

Social Dimension:

It implies harmony and integration within the individual, between each individual and other members of society and between individuals and their work in which they live. It has been defined as the quality and quantity of an individual’s interpersonal ties and the extent of involvement with the community. A very broad concept indeed. In simple words, it is the relation between individual and the community he belong to. If he is able to function properly as a whole person and also as a part of the community, and is able to make and maintain meaningful relationships with others, then he is socially healthy.

Emotional Dimension:

Earlier mental and emotional dimensions were treated as one element. But researches says that there is obvious difference between this two and they suggest that mental health can be seen as knowing or awareness while  emotional health relates to ‘feeling’. Emotional well being includes the ability to manage your feelings and related behaviours, cope effectively with stress, and adapt to change.

Spiritual Dimension:

It relates to the sense of overall purpose in life. People usually finds this purpose from a belief or faith system, and others find their own purpose. Having a purpose in life can help a person to apply himself to achieving goals and also can help people to maintain proper perspective on life and overcome adversity. A person who has purpose life is said to be healthier than those who don’t see a purpose to life.

If you look closely into each dimensions of health, you will notice that they are closely related and influence each other. For instance, when you are suffering from fever(physical dimension), you stay at home taking rest and avoid mingling with others to prevent risk of further infection and also takes a leave from work (social dimension), which in turns add your work pressure and thereby causing stress (mental dimension), and you become grumpy and scolds your daughter or wife unnecessarily (emotional dimension) and after that anger outburst you feel like your life is bad and you feel useless and even gets angry on God (spiritual dimension).  

The above example doesn’t imply that falling sick with a fever is great health issue. But instead, it shows that, even a mild fever can affect your overall functionality, and this overall functionality is what is called as health. When you are able to function to your optimum level (optimum is not definable and mostly considered a mirage as no men are perfect, but then if you function to the best of your capacity, it can be considered as your optimum level), then you are healthy.