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What does being healthy mean to you?

How do you know you have good well being?  If you have symptoms how do you know when you’re ‘better’?  What is that ‘good health’ we are all trying to achieve?

Well it depends!

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines good health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well being”.

Whilst this in itself is possibly one of the better definitions out there, it is open to interpretation – for a start, what exactly is ‘well being’?

And I can guarantee that each and every one of you will have your own take on what good health is,

which may contain an element of the ideas of the WHO but will undoubtedly also include many additional, often very personal, checks and balances we all use to measure our own well being.

So, for instance, something along the lines of “I’ll be healthy when…….”

I can go out walking with my friends

I can sleep well on a night

I no longer have this pain in my neck

I can eat normally (this is one of mine and of course begs the question of what is ‘normal’!)

I have more energy

I can stop taking medication

I don’t feel anxious any more

I can go on holiday

…….. and no doubt you can add your own to this list.

The one thing all these conditions for better health have in common is that we innocently make them up based on our own thoughts, experiences, beliefs and interpretation of the world around us.

They mean a lot to us and nothing to someone else, have no real basis from a scientific or physiology perspective, and in many cases have little, if any, real relation to how well we actually are.

But does this matter?

Well, on the one hand, no not at all.

The ability we have as human beings to think our own thoughts is one of our unique qualities, and certainly that freedom of thought is a much defended right (one that sadly, even in our modern world, is not available to everyone). From a health perspective having our own personal checks and measures for our health can give us a way of gauging how well we’re doing, prompting us to take action to stay within our defined boundaries, and give us motivation to do something when we don’t feel we are achieving good health.  There’s nothing wrong with that!

Problems arise however when, as with everything, balance is lost (there it is again – that keyword – balance!).

So when all we can see are those restrictions we have innocently imposed upon ourselves – ‘I can only be healthy when….’

Imagine for a minute looking through a very small peep hole in a fence.  All you can see is the restricted view allowed by that small amount of space to see through.  If you widen that peep hole then your view widens too and you’ll start to see all sorts of things that you couldn’t see before (and probably thought didn’t exist because you couldn’t see them).

The same applies to your health.  While you are focusing so hard on those conditions you have placed on yourself, the ‘I can only be healthy when..’ elements, you can potentially miss all the other wonderful ways that your health is improving or is already good!  Not only does this keep you stuck in ill health it can actually make symptoms worse as you worry and become frustrated by your seeming lack of progress.

And the really sad thing about this?

Those restrictions that are keeping you stuck aren’t true.  You’ve just innocently made them up; your own thoughts and beliefs that generally have no real basis to them.  What if you are actually enjoying better health and don’t know it?  How would that change not only the way you see your own health, but what you do to improve it and how?

So is your idea of better health keeping you unwell?

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