The Determinants of Health and Wellness
Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is “the condition of being fit and healthy; a state of full physical, emotional and social well Being; not only of the absence of sickness and disease.” A variety of other definitions have also been applied over the years. Still, there seems to be one commonality among people when it comes to health: the idea that it impacts the way we feel and the way we live our lives. It is important to note that “health” does not always refer to the absence of illness or disease. Rather, it refers to the capacity to be capable of enjoying a balanced life.
When we speak of “physical wellness,” the definition includes the capacity to enjoy a varied range of activities. Emphasis is more on physical fitness than it is on reaching some sort of ideal weight or height. Physical well being encompasses normal weight maintenance, the ability to move comfortably, the ability to swim, the ability to climb stairs, and the range of daily activities and leisure. In this sense, it excludes things like sleep disorders, pain, injury, and other conditions, which detract from the ability to do things in an effective way and may cause mental distress, such as depression. In its most general form, the definition of “physical wellness” includes all of the aspects of good health that contribute to one’s ability to live a quality life.
By contrast, the definition of “social wellness” has more to do with the habits and attitudes that lead to a balanced health. A good number of these conditions stem from the physical environment, including air pollution, noise, chemicals, and other environmental toxins. These conditions also impact one’s mental health and emotional well being. A person’s social wellness also includes having positive interactions with others and a sense of community. For example, physical environment can’t completely eliminate the negative effects of stress, but understanding how stress affects your body and coping with it in a healthy way can help you maintain a higher sense of social wellness.
One example of environmental determinants of health is the level of physical activity people engage in. Although there are several social determinants of health, the quality of physical environment and social interaction are two factors that cannot be avoided. In fact, many health services are built around these two areas. For example, if you are sick, you can use hospitals, doctors, and specialists in order to overcome your illness. Likewise, if your community lacks resources for physical activity and you have a low quality of life, you can be at greater risk for disease, obesity, heart disease, and other ailments.
There are also several environmental and psychosocial determinants of health. This includes, among others, work, relationships, and housing. Work related to physical health, such as staying active, performing hazardous tasks properly, and working with other people can help you maintain a high level of well-being. On the other hand, emotional health, or the state of being happy and emotionally healthy, is tied closely to the quality of your physical health, and poor relationships, lack of housing, and the difficulty of getting good housing can lead to greater emotional illness.
The next time someone asks you about your personal well-being, ask them about their overall health, as well. If they answer with a question mark, the chances are that they don’t see how their lifestyle affects their physical wellness. Most people do not think about their mental health as they might the physical one. Mental wellness, as it relates to your sense of overall health, can be the key to both physical and emotional wellness. If you are willing to make the effort to change your lifestyle, and make changes that help you feel good, you will find that your well-being will improve as a result.