Have you met “Meg”? She’s that “healthy” girl who works out six times a week for an hour. She’s thin, fit, has green smoothies for breakfasts and eats raw or organic food the rest of the time.
She’s the picture of health until you dive under the surface where you discover she has an uneasy relationship with alcohol and has toxic self-talk on repeat in her mind. Due to past traumas, she also eats emotionally, often binging on junk only to starve herself for days afterwards to make up for it.
Meg may be fictitious, but her story is a familiar one. It’s an indictment on our society, where we put so much emphasis on the external, physical aspects of being fit and healthy, but miss paying attention to other elements that contribute to our health and wellbeing.
Health as we really know—as defined by the World Health Organization—is wholistic and multi-faceted. What it encompasses includes:
The reality is, we all have work to do in each of these areas in some ways. Some of us have excellent social or spiritual health, but struggle in the area of physical health. Others, like Meg, may be doing great in the physical health space, but are really lacking in their emotional health. Each of these facets needs to be in harmony to experience true health, which impacts our overall happiness, contentment and quality of life.
There was a fascinating study a few years back that identified the highest populations of centenarians (people who live to 100 or more) around the world. Researchers found the people in these areas, known as Blue Zones, shared nine key habits despite their vastly different cultures. The “Power 9”, as they’ve been termed, are surprisingly (or not so surprisingly) wholistic in nature.
Their habits include:
- Active living
- Plant-based diet and smaller meal portion principles
- Daily rituals that minimise and manage stress
- Purposeful living
- Belonging to a tight-knit social and faith-based community
- Priority placed on family
Perhaps it’s worth us having a self-guided “check-in” to determine how our health is going in each of these areas. I’m certain none of us are 10 out of 10 in every one of them. I believe though, that we should be striving towards maintaining the areas that we’re on top of, and working on the ones that are lacking. Because, at the end of the day, wholistic, harmonious health is what defines true living at our best!