Returning to optimal health

Returning to optimal health 2017-03-16T15:30:39+00:00

Returning to optimal health

You have completed your course of rehab and reaching a level of health that you feel good about. What does being healthy mean, and how do you achieve an optimal level of health?

What is optimal health?

If we asked a group of people this question, their responses would be quite different. Some would say physical health is the key. To them, athletic skills or physical abilities might matter most. Others might view good health in terms of relationships and maintaining social interactions. Still others believe that emotional health and intellectual challenges are most important. We are all very different and complex individuals. We grow and change as different challenges, problems or needs present themselves.

How do we continue to grow ­and keep in good health­ in the presence of a disability?

Healthcare professionals agree that health is not merely “freedom from disease” or disability; rather, health includes life’s physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual aspects as well. It is not simply medical self-care and treatment of health problems that promote optimal health; these things also increase its potential.

Five areas that make up your overall health include:

  • Physical health, which relates to your body and includes eating habits, exercise, medical self-care and treatment of health problems. Smoking, drugs, and alcohol use have potential negative affects on your physical health.
  • Emotional health refers to your state of mind. It includes reactions to daily stresses, your sense of worth and your ability to relax and enjoy leisure.
  • Social health, which is the ability to maintain healthy interactions with friends, family, neighbors or co-workers.
  • Spiritual health includes having a sense of purpose in life, the ability to give and receive love and the ability to feel goodwill toward others.
  • Intellectual health results from mental stimulation and development we get through our work, school, community service, hobbies or cultural pursuits.

Physical health

  • Follow good health practices and seek regular medical follow-up
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Maintain the best body weight for your height and age
  • Reduce alcohol consumption and keep track of the variety of daily medications
  • Take voice and/or singing lessons

Intellectual health

  • Read books and the newspaper regularly; if necessary, look into adapted page turners
  • Attend educational lectures and programs
  • Decrease time watching TV
  • Explore at your local library
  • Learn computer skills
  • Learn from public library or college library audio and video tapes
  • Explore volunteer opportunities

Spiritual health

  • Set time aside each day for meditation and/or prayer
  • Attend a spiritual or religious meeting
  • Read a spiritual book or lesson
  • Select a valued personal characteristic (e.g. patience, forgiveness, compassion) and develop it
  • Journal or write an account of your daily life, feelings and thoughts

Emotional health

  • Learn to recognize your feelings and express them
  • Accept compliments or praise graciously
  • Seek professional help for serious adjustment problems
  • Relieve tension with relaxation and leisure activities
  • Learn how to cope with and adapt to stress
  • Learn relaxation and stress management techniques

Social health

  • Show more affection toward loved ones
  • Be less critical of others
  • Express your feelings
  • Help to educate others about what disability is ­ and is not ­ about
  • Fulfill responsibilities to others
  • Learn relaxation strategies
  • Learn effective communication and other life skills