Friday, July 12, 2013

UBC day 12- Art thou healthy?

I met a close friend last month, and as is the norm, I asked her, “How are you?” fully aware of what the standard reply would be. I was expecting an - ‘I’m fine’ reply but she zapped me by launching into a detailed account of why she wasn’t entirely fine. She began with ‘now that you ask’ and went on to tell me how she had been diagnosed with diabetes and how the stress of not being able to eat what she wanted was getting to her, and ending it but not before letting me know how her health check-ups and medications were eating into her finances.
That got me into thinking what actually defines good health. It brought to my mind the inland letters and postcards (that are completely redundant today!) that I used to write to my cousins and friends beginning with “I trust this letter finds you in the pink of heath and spirits.” Apparently, good health did not just mean being physically healthy, it also meant being healthy in spirits, the meaning of which had not been evident then!

What then comprises ‘good health’?
1.Physical health
Does good health mean being in great shape, being physically active and healthy? You bet it does. So how would you know that you are physically healthy? What a silly question to ask, you may say. You are right partially, because, physical health is the most visible form of being healthy. If you aren’t suffering from any of those life threatening health issues, you are fairly healthy!
But like they say, things are not what they seem to be, you might have to scratch a little below the surface to know what risks you may be prone to in the future, even if you seem quite healthy today. What then is the mantra for good physical health?
1.Get your routine health check-ups done- knowledge is always strength.
2.Eating right  is not rocket science. Our ancestors have been eating healthy forever! You don’t need fancy diets, just eat what your mother and granny always told you to!
3. Exercise and get proper rest- sleep for at least 6 hours if not more and exercise for at least half an hour each day.
2.Mental Health
This is as important as physical health. Stress, anger and hostility form a deadly mixture that is detrimental to the mind and to the body. Stress puts your body into a flight-or-fight mode and the constant pile up of stress never lets the stress hormone drop below ‘crisis’ level in your blood. Most of us are monumentally stressed, but we do not even realize how many tiny, inconsequential stresses keep annoying us every day.
There are many ways to de-stress yourself. Breathing properly is itself a huge stress reliever, but we do not realize that more often than not, we breath incorrectly, taking shallow breaths instead of deep cleansing ones! Take deep breaths, stretch your neck, relax your muscles, and meditate. There are other techniques like, visualizing a peaceful scene, listening to music, getting into a steam bath, spending time with pets, etc. Each one may have their idea of stress-busters, the only thing left to do, is actually getting down to doing THAT!
3.Social health
With the advent of technology, it has become more convenient to keep in touch with friends, you may say. It has become easier to meet each other on ‘Facebook’ rather than face to face! So where does that leave room for social interaction? Remember those times in school and college when unburdening your problems was so simple! You just had to talk to your best friend and Voila! They always had a solution to the most difficult problems! Does the joy of having a heart to heart talk with a few friends compare with posting your pictures in the most exotic place you have visited and getting a hundred comments on it? Is that all conversation is restricted to now?
With the kind of work we do, it becomes difficult to meet friends and relatives every day, but it isn’t impossible, is it? Add a little bit of socializing (and I do not mean partying when I say that!) to your life and you would realize how it adds to your good health!
4.Spiritual heath
I am definitely not hinting at going to astrologers or gurus! Whatever your faith, follow it and apply its essence to your life. If you do not follow any particular faith, accentuate positivity in your life in every way you can. This helps to keep anger, depression, pessimism, anxiousness and fear away from your life and probably also add a few years to it.
5.Financial health
Even if you have managed to take care of all other factors, you may still not be in good health, if your finances continue to trouble you. Whatever your income, whatever your expenditure, plan your finances well. Make saving a habit, it could be by way of mutual funds, fixed deposits or buying gold or land. However small the amount, commit to saving it religiously. It is not for nothing that they say, every tiny drop makes the mighty ocean and every grain of sand makes the vast desert.
So go ahead, pave your own way to “good health”, and the next time someone asks you how you are, make sure you are truly in very “good health”.
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