At ActiveHealth we believe in whole person health and the importance of incorporating mind, body and spirit as we help our members work toward their health goals. The connection between mind and body is well-established. We recently published a white paper that focuses on addressing how physical and mental health are linked, and the importance of assessing every aspect of the members we serve. This is especially true for our members managing chronic conditions.
Why do we include “spirit?” It’s tempting to dismiss the word spirt when connected to well-being. We most often think of it in terms of religion or spirituality, but there are other connotations of the word that are relevant in this space. Consider the phrase “fighting spirit” – it speaks to determination, resilience and perseverance. All of these are necessary when setting out to achieve new health goals.
As we begin our work with members, we focus on helping them create motivation and confidence – the desire to change and the belief that they can succeed. As these become more fully formed and the member begins to achieve their health goals, new feelings emerge, like satisfaction, pride and fulfillment. These feelings drive the urge to set and achieve new goals.
At home and abroad, we’ve experienced a pandemic as well as social and political upheaval. As a result, levels of stress are high and indicators of optimism and happiness are low.1 People are feeling dispirited, which is often accompanied by a lack of motivation and desire to do much of anything. In these times, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy coping behaviors, like emotional eating, isolating oneself, drinking too much alcohol and abusing drugs.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to acknowledge the important role that resilience and a sense of optimism play in our willingness and ability to make positive changes for our health. Making time for self-care is restorative to the spirit, whatever that may be for you. It may be spending time on a hobby, being with loved ones or just being outside. For some, finding a calm, balanced spirit may indeed be rooted in spirituality or religion.
Spirit is easy to overlook, especially compared to the more serious and debilitating effects of physical and mental illness. However, it’s a necessary component of overall well-being. It is from our spirit that we access the drive to improve our health and the commitment to create lasting change.
1Gallup International. Less Hope and Happiness in the World 2021. Available at https://www.gallup-international.com/survey-results/survey-result/less-hope-and-happiness-in-the-world-2021. Accessed March 4, 2022.