Why you need to set your own health standards

My healthy living pinwheel
The definition of health is somewhat controversial. The WHO’s definition is the most quoted, stating health to be “a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This definition was formalized over half a century ago but has since been challenged by others.

Critics argue that the WHO definition of health is utopian and unachievable. Nobody is likely to achieve, let alone maintain, such a level of health for any reasonable period of time. Enter the world of dynamic health. This is a state of well being characterized by a physical, mental and social potential, which satisfies the demands of a life commensurate with age, culture, and personal responsibilities. That’s a mouthful of a definition, but we are free to define for ourselves what health is and strive to achieve the standards we set.

Most of us have an idea of what health is all about. Granted, we need to be constantly reminded and sometimes reprimanded, if we veer from the healthy pathway. But why wait for government agencies, and well-meaning NGOs to remind us about what’s good for our health? We are constantly setting self-directed standards for many other life goals, but many keep forgetting to define a path for healthy living.

You can easily start with your current state of health, remembering that none of us can achieve the ideal. Make a simple definition of what health means to you, without caring how others define it. Take stock of the many ills you harbor, either physical, mental or whatever. Then reflect on the simplest of remedies you could put in place immediately, without costing you a dime or undue effort. There are countless things you can do right away. Eat less junk, build in some daily physical activities, stop smoking, drink less alcohol, avoid unsafe sex, etc. Come up with your own list, and aim to uphold some, if not most of your newly defined health standards. That way, Big Sam will no longer be needed to define health for you ever again.

Next, make conscious efforts to get the recommended check-ups every now and again. Our bodies are constantly being battered from all conceivable angles. No amount of healthy living will completely shield us from unwanted illnesses. Strive to get all the recommended vaccines, be up to date with screening tests for chronic diseases and cancer, and get unusual symptoms checked promptly. If something that needs specific treatment crops up, please adhere to the recommended treatment for god’s sake. Unless of course, you have defined your health in unconventional terms.

Individualized health standards are a great way to rid us of many communicable and life-style acquired diseases. It’s all self-driven, we are less likely to break our own health rules. Try it for a while, you’ll never again require an ad to remind you of healthy habits.
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