The term ‘whole person health’ is commonly used in the health and wellbeing sector, from mindfulness programs to medical practices. But what does it really mean?
In this blog we’ll uncover the concept of whole person health, to help you understand what it’s all about and why it’s so important.
What is whole person health?
Whole person health is about tending to all the dimensions of our being that contribute to our sense of wellness. This includes the body, mind, and spirit.
When one of these elements is neglected our life becomes unbalanced, which is why it’s important to treat our physical, mental and spiritual health equally and make a conscious effort to keep them in check.
Doing so promotes self-responsibility, optimism and self-worth, and a lifestyle that actively supports each dimension of our wellness. This, ultimately, helps us lead happier, healthier, and more enriching lives.
The elements of whole person health (and why they’re so important)
Our body is the vessel in which we live. Made up of an interconnected system of bones, muscles, organs, nerves and skin, it allows us to lead the lives we want to, carrying us from cradle to grave.
Looking after our bodies by giving it the fuel, rest and exercise it needs to function at its best is therefore essential to feeling good as we move throughout our lives.
Our mental health affects how we think, feel, and act.
The World Health Organisation describes good mental health as a state of wellbeing where individuals are able to realise their own potential, work productively, cope with the normal stresses of life, and make a positive contribution to the community.
While positive mental health doesn’t mean you’ll never be sad or go through emotionally-challenging times, it can help you bounce back more easily from these types of experiences (this is called mental resilience).
Some ways you can foster your mental health include:
- taking care of your physical needs by eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of rest
- making time for social connections and open up about any troubles that may be weighing you down
- recognising and challenging any negative self-talk with positive words to help reframe your mindset
- participating in mindfulness exercises such as meditation and journaling
- seeking help if you need it.
As humans, we need meaning and purpose to live a full and enriching life.
This is where spirit comes in. Spirit is about being centered and having an understanding that you’re part of something much bigger than yourself, providing clarity of life purpose.
A good way to distinguish your spirit is by asking yourself questions like ‘what provides my life with meaning?’ and ‘what motivates me to get up in the morning?’. Developing a set of ethics, values and guiding principles is also a great way to keep your spirit burning strong, no matter what life throws at you.
The role movement plays in whole person health
Physical activity, in whatever form, provides essential stimuli to develop and maintain human function. This makes movement necessary to the health and vitality of the whole person.
Research also shows that the benefits of regular physical activity span all three elements of body, mind, and spirit, as outlined below.
- builds stronger bones, muscles and joints
- combats health conditions and diseases
- increases energy levels so you can get more done
- helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly
- helps you manage stress and tension
- promotes a positive attitude and outlook
- improves your self-image and self-confidence
- can help you feel alive
- increases positive social interaction
- clears your mind and promotes self-awareness
- improves your interactions and relationships with others
As humans, we are multidimensional beings. Tuning into our body, mind and spirit, and continuously nurturing them, is therefore essential to living a rich and fulfilling life.