Health and psychological well-being are some of the most important aspects of what people value in their lives because these two elements have an impact on quality of life, social life and personal identity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) (1946) “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Health is not only the absence of physical or psychological symptoms, rather it is a broad concept that includes the individual attitude toward their well-being. A healthy condition is made of several aspects: physical, mental and social well-being and not only the lack of disease. Health is associated with balance among the body, mind and external relationships, beyond the presence or absence of illness. Someone might associate health with freedom from disease, or autonomy and vitality. Elders might see health as inner strength and the ability to cope with life’s challenges, while younger people focus on the importance of fitness, energy, and strength.
Health and psychological well-being are the result of a combination of physical, social, cognitive and emotional factors, since mental, physical, and social functioning are interdependent. This is a holistic definition of well-being. One’s psychological well–being is affected by individual factors and experiences, social interaction, external conditions, and cultural values. It is influenced by experiences in everyday life, in personal and professional contexts. Psychological well–being is an important individual resource that enhances the individual’s quality of life. Maintaining balance between health and psychological well-being allows a person to cope with the normal stress of life, to be more productive at work, and contribute to their community.
During moments of significant distress and crisis, it is difficult to manage life’s challenges and maintain psychological well–being. The real difference is how a person decides to face these challenges, what mindset one’s has and what coping strategies one’s can use. Mindset is a particular way of thinking. A person with a closed or fixed mindset assumes that they are going to fail, and feel helpless, hopeless, and not committed to finding a better way to change the situation. On the other hand, a person with an open mindset has a different attitude, trusts in the future and is engaged in finding new opportunities. However, the greatest challenge is to transform the narrow view about health and psychological well-being, that sees them as the absence of disease, and to be aware of several aspects, such as body, emotions, life purpose and meaning, social relationships, cognitive development, have a relevant impact on the level of psychological well–being.
The metaphor that expresses the relationship between health and well-being is the melody that an orchestra can play. As an orchestra is made of different instruments and plays better together than apart, so health and psychological well-being mean feeling good and functioning well, playing at best when all the aspects of life (emotional stability, relationships, engagement, resilience, optimism, vitality, meaning) work well together. This melody can be interpersonal, expressing what is inside of you, or external, expressing the voice of your body outside.
The ability of the body to recover from an accident and to heal is strongly connected with emotional reactions. It is very important to enhance emotional health to have psychological well-being. Changing the internal approach to reality and training the mind to try and have a deeper experience of reality by the practice of mindfulness is one of the ways to accomplish a state of health and psychological well-being. The practice of mindfulness trains some cognitive aspects like perception, letting go, acceptance, and presence of mind. Understanding these and how they work helps to manage the emotional world in a more self-compassionate, kinder, and effective way and enhances health and well-being. Mindfulness increases the ability to acknowledge thoughts and feelings, develop a different perspective of life’s challenges, and boost emotional resilience. This is associated with physical health, self-esteem, the ability to manage conflict, and the ability to maintain an open mindset. The fostering of these individual qualities is important to achieve psychological well–being.
Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash
Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash