How Do You Define Health?

healhy kidsOn Saturday, March 22, we will be celebrating our annual Healthy Kids Festival. In the event, the museum visitors will learn about health and healthcare through various fun activities. While I encourage everyone to come join this fun festival, I also want to take a moment to reflect on what we mean by “health” or “healthy.” The World Health Organization defined “health” in 1948 as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” But some people have different definitions, which often emphasize the ability to adapt to physical, mental, and social challenges.

Given those definitions, we can ask ourselves questions: When someone was born with a disability or illness, does it mean that the person is not healthy? If you are feeling sad, does it mean your mind is now unhealthy? But what if you never experience any difficulties in life? Is that healthy? I bet different people have various opinions and answers to those questions. I think it’s okay to have different definitions for everyone. Each one of us has a different body, different life experience, and different abilities. By figuring out what “health” means to you and your family, you can have clearer expectations of what you need to do to reach the status of “healthy” on your own terms.

For families with very young children, it is especially important to think about how you want to define health for your developing child. Come to Tasty Tuesdays and share your thoughts about health!

1.        Physical Health.

Having a nutritious, balanced diet and also an appropriate amount of exercise is important for your health. But you need to decide what’s appropriate for you and your family based on where you are right now. Do you think you should add more vegetables to your meals? Do you want to consider walking or biking to places instead of driving a car?  It’s important to find the right fit for your own lifestyle and preferences. Good hygiene and regular medical check-ups are also things you may want to consider about when you are thinking of physical health.

2.      Mental Health.

Mental health encompasses feelings, or how you manage your feelings. Do you generally feel happy or sad? On what occasions do you experience anger and frustration as well as joy and calmness? How do you cope with negative emotions? Balancing different kinds of emotions is the key to good mental health. Knowing how each emotion feels to you, what triggers certain feelings, and how you control some of the emotions may help you identify your own definition of mental health as well as your child’s mental health.

3.      Social Health.

What do you think of your relationships with your family and friends? How do your children get along with each other and with their friends? How does your child react to strangers? When there are difficulties in a relationship, how do you get back to being pleasant with each other? Again, there is no single answer that fits everyone. You need to think of the comfort levels and feelings that you or your family members have about each relationship.

These are just guidelines that you can use when thinking of your health in each area. Whatever ways you define your own health, I hope it helps you have more confidence and clearer ideas about what you can do to stay healthy!

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