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In Stress and Health

What does health mean?

The English word “health” comes from the Old English word “hale”, meaning “wholeness, a being whole, sound or well”. The lexical unit “hale” derives from the Proto-Indo-European root “kailo”, which means “whole, uninjured, of good omen”. The most famous modern definition of health was created during a Preamble to the Constitution of the World Health Organization as adopted by the International Health Conference in 1946 and entered into force in 1948. This definition sounds as “[h]ealth is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” During the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, the WHO (1986) defined health as “a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.” Based on this definition illness is just trouble. Quite a large number of people perceive such an interpretation to be narrow as according to it every human being is in some way ill. On a closer examination illness has a different meaning and a different approach to deal with it and hence, its causes and symptomatic characteristics appear in a different light.

The word “health” is not used in plural as well as “illness”, because both concepts define the forms of the human condition as integrity and do not relate to individual parts of the latter. Grounding on the definition of health as well-being at all levels it is possible to identify its impact on the relationships among people, in other words our interactive surroundings. Conflicts, disagreements, quarrels, misunderstandings, and so forth are those phenomena which more often knock us off balance and influence our both physical and mental health.

Physical health relates to anything concerning our bodies as physical entities. Another term for physical health is physical well-being, which might be defined as something an individual can achieve through development of all health-related components of his or her lifestyle. Some of contributors to physical well-being include proper nutrition, abstaining from drug abuse, avoiding alcohol abuse, hygiene, and so on.

Mental health refers to people’s cognitive and emotional well-being. A person who enjoys good mental health does not have a mental disorder. According to WHO (2007), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.

Taking into account all the determinants of health WHO emphasized in its reports, it is possible to determine three main forces, namely, (1) the social and economic environment we live in; (2) the physical environment; and (3) the person’s individual characteristics and behavioral patterns.

 


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