Introduction: Exploring Health

By Luke Jones. Connect with him on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Hippocrates - the father of modern medicine (Photo by Mira66)

Hippocrates – the father of modern medicine (Photo by Mira66)

 

“The wise man should consider that human health is the greatest of human blessings.”

Hippocrates

My aim in the Health Room blog is to explore ideas in health, lifestyle and sustainability, and share them with you as I continue to learn and grow.

I’d like to mention that I’m not here to tell you what to do or to point out where you are going wrong, and I’ll never claim to have all the answers.

My way is not the ‘right way’, I’m just on a journey to find out what works best for my health, as that’s the only thing I can influence directly. My goal is to help as many people as I can, but I think the best way for me to do that is to be authentic and set a good example, rather than to preach.

So I hope you enjoy this first post, and if it helps even the smallest amount I’ll be a very happy person!

HEALTH

Health is a word and concept that’s thrown around quite frequently. Many people believe they live ‘healthy’ lifestyles, or stress the importance of a ‘healthy balanced diet’. There is even an industry built on ‘health’, with millions of so-called ‘health’ professionals and practitioners, many of whom will argue that their approach is the only correct one. 

So what does it mean to be healthy?

The World Health Organisation defines it as:

“A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”

So health can be viewed as a series of interacting components that combine to make a complex whole.

For human health, these components might include nutrition, movement and physical activity, rest and recovery, mental and emotional stability, social engagement, spirituality, environmental conditions…

There’s a long list of different factors, and I don’t believe any of them work properly in isolation. You may have covered all bases with your sophisticated physical training routine, but if your diet is poor or you’re facing chronic stress and disease, it’s unlikely you’ll be experiencing your full health potential. Some components are out of balance. Some of the spokes from the wheel are missing.

A similar occurrence is found when we consider the health of the planet, and just about any earth system we can study. Consider the climate system for example. We often split this complex system into several interacting sub-systems; including the hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere, biosphere and lithosphere.

We know from experience that when we make changes in the atmosphere, the other sub-systems adjust in an attempt to rectify the changes, bring it back towards equilibrium and a healthy state.

Just like you can’t study physical fitness without considering nutrition and human emotions; you can’t look at changes in the cryosphere without taking into account the knock on effect on the hydrosphere.

WHOLISM VS REDUCTIONISM

“Yeah, we get it, everything is linked to everything else, big deal,” I hear you say… But I think it goes a little deeper than this.

Initially, I felt a little uncomfortable splitting health into any subsystems or topics at all. It starts to infer that there are boundaries between them. In reality, these boundaries are non-existent. They are completely made up lenses imposed by humans.

We apply these lenses to help us begin to comprehend systems that are too far complex for us to otherwise understand. At what point can you precisely define where the cryosphere becomes the hydrosphere? Where do your thoughts and emotions become separate from the health of your physical body?

Rather than taking a reductionist approach and viewing each topic or system as a separate entity, the approach I want to use in this blog will consider that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

No matter how much information we can gather from individual sub-topics and systems, we will not be able to re-create the complexity of the whole (in this case, health).

However, in some cases it may be necessary for us to zoom in and study each topic more closely from time to time to make any progression.We can consider each sub system or division as a temporary platform, built so that we can describe what has come before hand in the easiest way possible. But we need to be careful not to become too focussed on the individual platform and lose sight of the big picture.

So sometimes I’ll look closely at these different topics and viewpoints within health and sustainability, but I’ll always try my best to keep the bigger picture of whole-istic health in mind.

I’m aiming to resist categorical thinking, and to bring everything together as best as I can. I want to blend the boundaries we’ve created and hopefully shed some light on how we can increase our all round vitality, as well as improving the health of the planet we live on.


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Thanks for reading!

If you’d like to support my work, the best way you can do so is by subscribing and sharing with others. If you want to take things a step further, if it feels right for to you, you can donate any amount of money via the paypal link below.

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones is a mover, blogger and wellness enthusiast. He spends his time exploring and sharing ideas in mindful movement, healthy living and adventure.

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