The World Health Organization defines health as: “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
The state of our health can determine how we experience, interact with, and even interpret the world around us. It has the power to influence both the length of our life, and the quality.
Are you as healthy as you would like to be? Imagine what perfect health would feel like for you. What might you accomplish if your body, mind, and social life were at their best?
Living vs. living well
On a scale where the basic health required to live is at zero, and your ideal health at a 10, where would you rate your current level of health?
For many people, health is not something they think about until they become ill, injured, or mentally overwhelmed. When your health is somewhere in the middle of the scale, it may not be at the forefront of your mind. For the next moment, consider the benefits of implementing habits that not only keep you in good health, but which lead you to optimal health.
“Feeling healthier” means different things to different people. To decide what optimal health means for you, ask yourself the following questions:
How does my body feel?
Am I free of pain?
Am I strong?
Am I energetic?
Am I able to move freely without stiffness or discomfort?
What emotions are dominant?
Am I able to think clearly?
Do I sleep well?
Am I focused on the present moment?
Do I react to situations in a rational and productive way?
Am I involved in activities that I find mentally stimulating?
Do I have a good balance between work and play?
Do my relationships drain me of energy, or do they make my life happier?
Do my relationships allow for personal growth?
Do I feel well-supported?
Do I feel safe and loved?
Taking time to reflect on how your current state of health will give you insight into which areas could use the most improvement.
What health is NOT
Be careful that your health goals are not based purely on superficial measures of success, such as numbers on a scale or a busy social calendar. Stay focused on what being healthy feels like for you.
Yes, creating healthier habits may require sacrifices here and there. However, goals that appear to improve one pillar of health (e.g., physical) to the detriment of the others (e.g., mental and social) aren’t in your long-term best interest. Aim to set goals that enhance all 3 pillars of your well-being wherever possible.
Six steps to a healthier you
You may not be able to control every aspect of your health, but establishing small, healthy habits can lead to big changes in the future. Here are 6 things you can start doing today to become the healthiest version of yourself:
1. Prioritise your health goals
Is there one issue that seems to be impacting your quality of life more than others? Whether it’s knee pain, anxiety, or a difficult relationship—you may find that addressing that one issue first can have a positive ripple effect across other areas of your health.
2. Define WHY you want to be healthier
Maybe you want to eat better so that your favourite pants fit again, or so you have a stronger immune system, or so it’s easier to play soccer with your kids. Keep your end goal in mind to fuel your motivation when things get challenging.
3. Consider which changes could have the biggest impact
For example, committing to a group exercise class each week might help you improve your physical health, boost your mood, and be a good way to make new friends. How might your overall health be improved if you got more sleep? Or cut back on alcohol?
4. Start small
If you would like to move your body more, your goal can be as simple as walking instead of driving to a nearby location; or you might do some stretching while you’re watching TV. Set goals that are achievable, and gradually build up to larger goals over time. Focus on just one new goal at a time to avoid getting frustrated or overwhelmed.
5. Be consistent
Break your health goals down into small steps, and schedule them on your calendar. If you miss a step, remind yourself about your desired outcome and get back on track as soon as you can. If you did not reach a daily goal, you can still benefit by making even a little progress towards it. For instance, if you planned to walk for an hour but are short on time, go for a 20-minute walk instead.
6. Create a support system
If sticking to goals is difficult for you, or if you just want some extra support, find someone you can check in with regularly to encourage you and keep you accountable.
Today’s action steps
Write down why you are working towards your goal(s), and focus on how you will feel when you get there. Remind yourself of your ‘why’ whenever you find yourself getting side-tracked by external measures of progress.
If you have several health goals in mind, prioritise the ones that maximise benefits across all 3 pillars of health. This might mean taking a group exercise class once a week for the physical, mental, and social benefits. Or it might mean seeing a chiropractor about your back pain so you can move freely, feel happier, and be able to meet up with friends again. Today, pick just one goal to start with that will give you the biggest return on your investment.
Break your goals down into small, easily achievable steps. If you want to ‘eat more vegetables,’ steps may include looking up new recipes, grocery shopping, preparing dinner, and so on. Write each step down, and schedule a time to work on each.
Different people may have different ideas of what it means to be healthier. As you set your health goals, remain focused on what optimal health means to you. Change may not happen overnight, but just by taking this time to reflect today you’re already on the path to better health.
Our world-class coaches on Hello Coach can help you set goals that enhance all 3 pillars of your wellbeing – career, relationships and wellness.
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