What does health mean to me?

Health and being healthy probably has a different meaning to all of us. By definition, it is ‘the state of being free of illness or injury.’ While none of us actually want to fall ill or suffer injury, these simple terms to explain ‘health’ just don’t seem to do this word justice. I believe health is about the big picture. It is about looking after our physical body through food and exercise, our mental health through mindfulness practices and managing stress levels and our spiritual health by living in alignment with your beliefs and being who YOU want to be (not who social media suggests you SHOULD be.) It is about creating balance in all areas of life so that at any age and stage in life – happiness is easy to find, you feel great about being you and you are physically able to do all the fun things in life that you enjoy most.

My grandparents are 94 and 95 years old. They still live at home, on the farm, by themselves. They have few health complaints besides the usual parts wearing out over all that time. My Pop still gets up every morning to check his cows and feeds his dog at night.  My Nan does all the gardening and cooking and knitting and jigsaw puzzles.  And no matter what, they still get up every morning to get their jobs done. I believe it has been their positive attitude towards life, hard work and getting things done that has kept them going for so long. They haven’t been without health problems in the past.  My pop has had tetanus, diphtheria, open heart surgery, pinched nerves in his back and a brain tumour but, despite all that he has maintained his ‘one day when I start to feel a bit better’ optimism. My Nan has had two knee replacements and her ‘someone’s got to cook the dinner, I’ll be right’ attitude has meant that it didn’t slow her down for a second. I admire them so much and I know that their mindset (along with good genetics) has helped them avoid morbidity and sustain their ‘pretty good considering’ health.

Have you ever stopped and thought about how a few days of a sniffly nose and headaches can really leave you feeling down, or, how it really is a pain to not be able to use the finger you broke at netball? We sail along usually taking our health for granted until something big happens. Although a head cold and a broken finger isn’t the worst thing in the world, it’s enough to put a spanner in the works and interrupt your usual routine isn’t it? When it comes to bigger more major illness, we tend to ignore the warning signs (there is almost always a warning sign) until it’s too late. Maybe NOW is the time to stop taking your health for granted and do the work to keep your body happy because at the end of the day, what do we have if we don’t have our health?

I will ask you to consider what your own version of ‘optimal health’ could look like and think about what you can do today to start looking after yourself – be it physically, mentally or spiritually. We are all doing life at our own pace and everyone is so different and that is why, I think, looking at the whole picture makes so much sense! Some of us have serious health problems that need managing constantly.  Some might be putting off loosing that last 10kg.  It could be the need to start managing your stress levels more effectively before it creates illness or effects relationships.  Some of you might just want to start using chemical free products in your house and cutting preservatives out of children’s food. Whatever it may be…. today is the day to stop and think what does health mean to me?

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