Saturday, October 5, 2019

Are You "Healthy"?

(ed. note: By request, the following is a short overview that you, the reader, will hopefully find useful. These ideas are currently being expanded upon and will be available soon as a short e-book).

There are various types of health/wellness and I've seen interesting "health" break-downs over the years, but recently revisited the concept. I rather like the one listed below (which I have, admittedly, altered to how I best process information and attack goals).

Hoping you will find something serviceable, if not out and out useful, below.

1) Physical health
Yes, yes...exercise. But also dietary habits, body awareness, sleep, and the like. And exercise (for one example) can be sliced up various way. For example, cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, etc....or functional fitness vs isolation training, strength vs coordination, speed vs stamina, and the like.

Diet, as another example, can include not only what you choose to eat (or not), but how you choose to consume it (cooking methods, for example, or time restrictions, for another, or calorie loads, for another).

One interesting concept is to break down health by topics such as visual health, oral health, aural health, etc, or skeletal health, muscular health, cardiovascular health, and more.

But these things can be as simple or as complex as you need them to be to fit your purposes at any given moment.

So, how is YOUR physical health?

2) Psychological health
Sometimes called mental health or emotional health, the focus is on thoughts, feelings, self-analysis & introspection, cultivating positivity, etc.

Some models cover stress management, sleep management, rumination, social connection, and the like. A few years back, Gregg Henriques wrote an interesting piece for Psychology Today that had a very simple continuum - with "distress" balanced by "satisfaction" and "dysfunction" balanced by "optimization" - by which one could measure (and thus adjust) once's circumstances.

So, how is YOUR psychological health?

3) Intellectual health
Developing linear as well as lateral (creative) thought processes, increasing knowledge & mental skills, navigating differing logic paths, and so forth.

Obviously things like learning new skills, deepening current knowledge of a topic of interest, perhaps playing games (memory games or logic games, for example) that push one's mental abilities or learning a new language...all these are good approaches.

I rather like the functional structure provided by Howard Gardner's model of Multiple Intelligence, but obviously there are other options as well.

So, how is YOUR intellectual health?

4) Social health
Personal friendships & social networks, communication skills, meaningful relationships, etc. all fall under the wider rubric of "social health".

One nice model was a set of concentric rings with "self" at the center, then radiating out with things like "family" and "friends' and "local community", and so on. Obviously, there are several possible ways to list the expanding circles, and Jaron Lanier's "Circle of Empathy" is an interesting model one can lay atop your rings for perspective and illumination.

So, how is YOUR social health?

5) Environmental health
Being in healthy physical spaces (for example: in work & play) and your interaction with that environment (being mindful of your impact on your local environment, for example).

While there are a multitude of ways to analyze this one, I find it easiest to consider where you spend most of your time. For most people, this is probably home, work, and perhaps your primary mode of transportation. Then ask yourself if each environment is healthy.

So, how is YOUR environmental health?

6) Occupational health
Obviously this references one's employment. But do you have a job or a career? And is your job/career what you want? Is it what you need? Does it serve you properly?

These are relevant questions designed to assess your current job as well as your employment trajectory, allowing you to decide if its worth it to continue or if you need a change (and what sort of change, and how you might accomplish it).

So, how is YOUR occupational health?

7) Spiritual health
Not simply religion (unless, for you, it is) and also beyond just psychology, and more at higher purpose, altered states, mindfulness, contemplative practices, and the like.

A common way to slice this particular pie is in half: religious well-being and existential well-being (dealing with meaning & purpose). Another might be a 3-fold approach of "religious", "individual", and "nature". Yet another slices the pie 5-way: meaning, value, connection, transcendence, and becoming.

For now, I'll simply leave it at that.

So, how is YOUR spiritual health?

8) Financial health
Money enough that you are secure in your bills & enough savings for a rainy day.

Investopedia had a lovely definition with built-in breakdown that reads simply:

"Financial health is a term used to describe the state of one's personal financial situation. There are many dimensions to financial health, including the amount of savings you have, how much you’re putting away for retirement, and how much of your income you are spending on fixed or non-discretionary expenses."

Chris Muller wrote a 5-step financial health assessment that included 1) determine your net worth (and which way its trending), 2) calculate your debt-to-income ration, 3) evaluate your housing situation, 4) assess your spending (i.e. - where your money is going), and 5) make sure your investment strategy is aligned with your situation.

Other systems simply say "if you don't have enough cash savings to walk away from employment for a year, cut your expenses now, and look for way to increase either the number of revenue streams or the amount in your current revenue streams".

Perhaps my favorite is a mildly altered version of the "5 Measures of Financial Fitness" (for reasons I'll outline later), which are:

1) Debt to Income Ratio
2) Credit Card Debt 
3) Personal Savings Rate
4) Emergency Savings Fund
5) Net Worth

Let's face it: Life has always been risky, and having the resources to cover water, food, shelter, and clothing (and then sanitation, education, transportation, communication, health services, and the like) is only the beginning of our financial lives.

So, how is YOUR financial health?

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The breakdown is fairly arbitrary, of course, with some systems combining occupation & financial, for example, or spiritual/social/psychological, for another. But I like the extra category(s) for a finer granular approach, but still a short enough list to be practical on a daily basis on one's road to self improvement and self-actualization.

Whatever sub-set system works for you, and whatever scoring system (some writers suggest using, for example, a score of 1 to 10 on each health component, and then seeing what your "total health score" might be), I sincerely hope this 8 point breakdown is of service to you and your needs.

If you'd like to support my work...

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