Today I am introducing you to the health triangle, a tool to help you achieve a balanced combination of physical, mental/emotional, and social well-being, the three key components of health.
Let me tell you something extremely important right at the start, if you want to enjoy good health it is absolutely essential that you maintain balance in your life. Without this balance you will find yourself experiencing chronic illness, symptoms of stress, dysfunction, relationship friction or just plain burnout.
So many of you struggle to achieve any form of balance in your life. Your lives are completely unbalanced, trying to pay your bills has taken precedence over everything. You spend more time at work than you do sleeping, playing, exercising all together. Work and finances consumes your life.
Many of you are probably already fighting a battle with your health. Medication is helping but hasn’t brought you back to what you regard as a state of good health. You are desperately searching for what you should be doing to restore your health to a level where you can say ‘I feel great!’
I want to offer you today a very simple strategy that will provide you a focus that is truly going to be able to help you raise your level of health considerably. It’s going to help you get your life back into balance.
I know that with your busy life, it can seem difficult if not impossible, to nourish, care for, and support your health. I assure you this strategy I’m going to give you today is simple, yet effective.
There are steps you can take to change what isn’t working and get back some control and balance in your life and a way to measure it.
Let me introduce you to the health triangle.
The Health Triangle
The Health Triangle is best introduced by referring to these words written in Wikipedia:
‘The maintenance and promotion of health is achieved through different combinations of physical, mental, and social well-being, together sometimes referred to as the “health triangle.”’
The best known definition of health supports this where it says:
Health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” WHO definition of health
What this is basically saying is that for us to achieve health we have to take care of three things:
- Our Physical Health
- Our Social Health
- Our Mental Health
So let’s be clear here. For you to maintain or bring back good health your focus needs to be on these three specific areas. Your physical, social and mental health.
I want you to imagine a triangle. It is an equilateral triangle therefore has three equal sides. One side of the triangle represents physical health, another side represents social health and the other side represents mental health. This is a health triangle.
If one side is longer or shorter than the other, then it will not be an equilateral triangle anymore. This is the same as the health triangle. Physical, mental and social health must be well balanced to live a truly healthy life. In fact, devoting more attention to one particular side, while neglecting the others, can lead to health imbalances.
From now on ensuring you maintain a perfect equilateral health triangle will be the way for you to achieve overall wellness and to reach a level of good health.
So let’s quickly just consider what we mean by physical, social and mental health.
What is physical health?
Physical health addresses the body’s ability to function. It can be defined as “a state of well-being when all internal and external body parts, organs, tissues and cells can function properly as they are supposed to function.”
We also refer to physical health as a state of physical well-being in which a person is physically fit to perform their daily activities without restrictions.
We know that by not taking care of our physical health then we will suffer with ill health, potentially chronic disease, and certainly we won’t benefit from having lots of energy, get up and go and vitality. Hence the importance of doing everything possible to create a good physical health for ourselves. According to the health triangle this is one of the three areas we need to focus on and get into balance.
What is social health?
Social health involves your ability to form satisfying interpersonal relationships with others. It also relates to your ability to adapt comfortably to different social situations and act appropriately in a variety of social settings. It involves connecting with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours.
Loneliness and isolation can bring about incredible effects on both our physical and mental health. The sadness or distress resulting from being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you is harmful to your overall health. The health triangle brings focus to this area for you.
What is mental health?
Mental health covers an enormous spectrum of emotional and psychological states. The dictionary definition of mental health is: ‘The psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment.’
Mental health is considered to be our ability to handle the stresses of daily life and maintain a generally cheerful and optimistic attitude about life.
When you are down, depressed, struggling to stop negativity taking over all your thoughts, your health deteriorates. Clearly you’re not going to sustain vitality in that condition. The health triangle makes your mental state one of three things that you have to get to a high level to enjoy good health.
There can really no doubts about the importance of these three areas. They are indeed the three key aspects of life. You now need to bring your focus to working to balance your physical health, your mental health and your social health. To ensure your future health, work towards getting these three areas in balance. Make this your priority, so you become the priority to yourself.
Health is a choice
The power to achieve amazing health lies within you.
So now I want you to measure your health according to the Health Triangle. To help you do this let me provide you a health triangle self-assessment.
Health Triangle Self Assessment
Score yourself one point for each positive answer.
- I wash my hands and face regularly during the day
- I brush and floss my teeth daily
- I am within 5 pounds of my ideal/desirable weight
- I drink eight cups of water each day
- I eat 3 balanced healthy nutritious meals daily
- I snack only on fruit, vegetables or nuts.
- I limit my sugar, salt and fat intake.
- I do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week or more
- I stretch or do flexibility exercises at least 5-10 minutes every day
- I do strength training exercise for at least 30 minutes for at least 2 times a week or more
- I participate in some form of physical pursuit e.g. swimming, dancing, walking etc.
- I avoid the use/abuse of non-medicinal drugs including tobacco and alcohol
- I get at least 8 hours of sleep each night
- I relax and unwind for at least 30 minutes each day
- I don’t sit for more than one hour at a time (without taking at least a 5/10 minute walk around)
- I don’t suffer from energy dips during the day or feel run down throughout the day
- My resting heart rate is below 70 beats/minute
- My blood pressure is between 120 and 90 over 60 to 80
- I am not suffering from any major health problems
- I make my health a priority
Score ____ (Maximum of 20 possible)
- I show respect and care for myself and others
- I connect with my relatives and friends on the phone on a regular basis
- I meet up with my relatives and friends on a regular basis
- I am a member of or volunteer to local groups, clubs or organisations
- I have someone I can turn to for advice when things are not going well.
- If I decide one afternoon that I would like to go to a movie that evening, I could easily find someone to go with me.
- If I had to go out of town for a few weeks, I have someone who would look after my house or apartment (the plants, pets, garden, etc.).
- If I were sick, I could easily find someone to help me with my daily chores.
- I communicate clearly and use good active listening skills with others
- I meet people easily and am comfortable entering into conversations with new acquaintances
- I have at least one or two close friends (develops supportive friendships)
- I can be assertive and set personal boundaries with family, friends, others, etc
- I can say “no” to my friends if they are doing something I do not want to do
- If I have a problem with someone, I try to work it out (resolves conflicts effectively)
- I avoid gossiping about people
- I seek and lend support when needed
- I socialize well with others
- I understand and accept my own sexuality
- I continue growing, learning, and facing new challenges throughout life
- I relate to the larger environment (home, community, world) and take a share of the responsibility for it
Score ____ (Maximum of 20 possible)
Mental / Emotional Health
- I’ve been feeling optimistic about the future
- I’ve been feeling useful
- I’ve been feeling relaxed
- I’ve been feeling interested in other people
- I’ve been dealing with problems well
- I’ve been thinking clearly
- I’ve been feeling good about myself
- I express my thoughts and feelings in a positive manner
- I am willing to accept new ideas and try new things
- I have at least one hobby or interest I pursue and enjoy
- I feel that my life has meaning and have a sense of control over my life
- I don’t often feel tense or ‘wound up’
- I am generally a very positive person
- I don’t feel particularly worried about anything
- I like to meet challenges head on, confident I will find solutions
- I have not had treatment for a mental health condition (e.g. depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis)
- In the last 12 months I have not experienced stress, change or loss (e.g. relationship problems, loss of someone close, illness, pregnancy loss or complications, financial worries, moving house)
- I successfully manage my stress and frustrations
- I am aware of my emotions and manage and express them appropriately
- I recognize emotional problems in myself or others and seek help when needed
Score ____ (Maximum of 20 possible)
TOTAL for PHYSICAL HEALTH (0-20) ____
TOTAL for SOCIAL HEALTH (0-20) ____
TOTAL for MENTAL HEALTH (0-20) ____
TOTAL HEALTH SCORE ____
A score of 50 plus shows that your life is pretty much in balance. So well done. If you scored less than 50 you need to begin masking changes to bring things into balance. Look at your 3 scores separately and look to improve each of them. Make this a strong part of what you focus on daily.
Now you have a measure as well as a clear direction of things that you need to change to bring about good health. Change your answers by shifting your behaviour. Work on increasing both your score and the balance between the three key areas of health and you will see a remarkable improvement in your health.
Begin now to work on your health!