In an age where the size of the house determines your level of success in life and the colour of hair no longer determines your age, the word ‘health’ has now come to mean much more than what it did hitherto. Health is no longer an absolute determinant of longevity and vice versa holds true too. Health has now become an umbrella term where the diameter of the umbrella is constantly being rechecked and reset; it is progressively inclusive.
Health, as defined by WHO, is a state of complete mental, physical and social wellbeing and not the merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Each part of the sentence can be analysed further for a more comprehensive understanding of the term. Health doesn’t imply mere freedom from diseases or handicaps but a more fulfilling life. The definition steers us towards a more holistic view of life and health where a person is physically normal, mentally stable and socially well-adjusted. Not just that, the person is capable of earning a livelihood and live a spiritually satisfying life.
Physical health is the easiest to gauge and take care of amongst all the three sub-categories of health that WHO mentions. With advanced technology, numerous blood tests and imaging procedures are available which help us easily determine any abnormalities within the body and correct them promptly. Clinical signs and symptoms tell us of any abnormalities in any particular organ. A pink, smooth skin with white dentine, lustrous hair, absence of body odour and sparkling eyes are all signs of a healthy body. Basic measures of hygiene need to be adhered to, to maintain a healthy body. Adults can manage their health easily but kids’ health can be a major concern for their parents.
Mental and social healths are far trickier to determine and deal with. For a person to be mentally healthy, it is necessary that he have a certain amount of introspection, some aims and goals in life, the capacity to bear failure and an inquisitive and curious mind that seeks answers. A person, who is endowed with a desire to enjoy life and at the same time keep focus on the aims in life, will be able to live a healthy and gratifying life in spite of failures that might occur. Such a person can bounce back from setbacks and not tend towards socially mal-adjusted behaviour. Socially well-adjusted people enjoy the company of others while valuing the privilege of solitude. They have patience and agree to disagree with others occasionally. They enjoy the company of friends and family, equally. People with anti-social behaviour are not considered to be healthy despite complete physical fitness.
Such is the new age definition of health. Spontaneous recovery from minor ailments is also considered as part of being healthy. This just gives us an understanding that health is like a spectrum of light where total health is at one end of the spectrum and death at another end. Everything in between is owing to some amount of health.