Wednesday, 2 January 2013

A Healthy New Year?

The saying may be just a phrase that everyone says to everyone else at this time of year . . . But wishing me a 'healthy new year' is particularly hard to hear this year. I know health is a subjective thing, but when you have a long-term condition, all the fresh starts of a new year are not going to make you healthy again! It seems a rather insulting comment from family and friends who I know haven't grasped the time-frame of my illness - I'm not going to get better! The time-frame of long-term health conditions is hard for people to understand, and their lack of comprehension and the comments that result are one of the most annoying things about LTCs. But can I find some truth or hope in the dreaded phrase - a 'healthy new year'?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) definition of Health is as follows:
Redefining what health means to us! 
Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

So while my physical health may not change, there is certainly scope for my mental health to improve and my social well-being! The absence of disease is an interesting concept regarding health - can I be healthy while living with 6 conditions? It depends on how you define healthy really. Health to me several years ago meant being able to row at 6 in the morning and still have the energy to do a day's studying and a night's partying. Visits to the doctor were only for jabs for exotic holidays. Under those preconceptions, the idea of a healthy 2013 for me is as remote as anything.
But if I take 'health' as being also my well-being, and a healthy attitude to my body and lifestyle, then I, myself, have the power to make 2013 as healthy as possible, through maintaining my good diet, continuing to look after my body through exercises and relaxation, and continuing to work through my CBT. I can self-manage my way to a healthier 2013, even though I will never have the absence of disease.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year!

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  1. I think you're absolutely right (and I love your blog, btw). I teach Recovery Coaching skills (in mental health) and use the concepts (developed by others) of wellness and illness being two separate, though related scales. Thus is it entirely possible to be 'well' whilst still having symptoms of illness - just as one can be free from symptoms and yet feel anything but well. My view is that the NHS will move (I hope!) to focusing on building wellness (well-being, positive emotion, connectdness etc etc) instead of stopping at reducing illness.

    1. Thank you for your comment! Your work sounds very interesting and certainly important in this new way of thinking that I hope too will become more mainstream.