Health is not just avoiding sickness. In positive terms, health is the capacity to grow to our full mental, physical and emotional potential – and to flourish. Being healthy is about feeling good and functioning well.
There are two ways in particular that could are elementary in promoting our health:
1. Improving our eating habits
While many of us enjoy good health, there is also cause for concern. Our lifestyles need improving and our communities need strengthening. Many people do not eat enough vegetables or fruit, nor get enough physical activity. There are increasing numbers of people who are overweight, while eating disorders are also on the rise.
2. Being mentally, emotionally and spiritually stable
Being healthy includes having a mind and spirit that is nourished and resilient. Yet more and more members of our community experience depression, anxiety or problems from drugs and alcohol. Mental-health issues affect one-third of families and every 40 seconds, someone in the world dies of suicide.
Most adults with mental-health problems first experienced issues as a teenager. Young people with a mental-health issue are also more likely to have low incomes, be in trouble with the law, be a parent, experience physical illness and have poor educational outcomes. Tragically, suicide is one of the leading causes of death in young people.
Yet there is much reason for hope: conditions including anxiety and depression are treatable (although only a quarter of people affected seek help). Our understanding of mental illness is growing all the time. Suicide is preventable. And, even better news; we can promote good mental health to prevent problems.
Our lifestyle and the environment we live in largely influence our health. If we are to focus on wellbeing rather than only treating illness, we must take responsibility for our own health rather than expecting doctors to pick up the pieces of our unhealthy lifestyles. It also means helping to make our community a healthier place in which to live.
The causes of chronic illness such as heart disease and cancer are mostly related to alcohol use, smoking, being overweight, and not eating enough fruit and vegetables and physical inactivity.
Don’t wait for a wake-up call. Our lifestyle is in our control: many of the illnesses we experience are preventable. We need to build the strength of our minds and bodies so we are more resilient, to reduce chances of problems occurring. When we are in touch with our health and we know our bodies and minds well, we can catch problems early.