Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any health program.
There are four main pillars of health: physical health, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health. Each one is important in its own way and they all work together to create a foundation of good health and an overall sense of wellbeing. Let’s take a look at each one in a little more detail.
But first, let's discuss what health pillars are...
What are health pillars and why are they important?
Pillars, in general, hold up a structure. In the case of health pillars, they’re the framework that supports and hold up your health. Just like a physical structure, if one of the pillars is weak or damaged, it can cause problems for the whole structure. That’s why it’s vital to focus on all of the health pillars, not just one or two.
Think of it like this: if your physical health is poor, it will affect your mental and emotional health. If your mental health is poor, it will affect your physical and emotional health. And so on. They’re all interconnected.
To preface the next section, it’s important to note that all the pillars are important and the way we are listing them doesn’t mean that one is more important than another.
Health Pillar #1: Physical health
We'll start with physical health because it is the most obvious and what others can see. When we talk about physical health, we’re talking about the health of your body and how it feels and functions.
Why physical health is important
Have you ever felt lethargic, run-down, or just not quite yourself but you couldn’t put your finger on why? It could be that your physical health is out of balance. Maybe you’re not getting enough exercise or you’re eating a lot of processed foods or maybe you are just overly stressed. Perhaps you’re carrying around extra weight or you have an underlying health condition. Whatever the reason, physical health is important because your body is the vehicle in which you navigate and experience life.
If you were going on a long road trip and you had the choice to choose between two cars, one that was in excellent condition and one that was in poor condition, you’d probably choose the one in excellent condition, right? That's because you know it would be more reliable, efficient, and comfortable. The same goes for your physical health. When you have a body that feels good and is functioning well, your journey through life is just better. You have more energy, you feel better mentally and emotionally, and you can do the things you want to do.
We understand that some people have dispositions that make physical activity difficult and that's okay. Everyone's physical health journey looks different. The key is to find what works for you and to do your best to stick with it.
Ways to maintain the physical health pillar
You've probably heard what we are about to say a million times but we'll say it again because it's that important: What you eat and how much you move your body is key. Eating healthy whole foods is important for so many reasons. It gives your body the nutrients it needs to function properly, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and reduces your risk of developing chronic diseases.
And exercise isn’t just about looking good. It’s also about how it makes you feel. Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. It also helps to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. And it increases energy levels, which is helpful when you’re feeling run-down or sluggish.
Looking good is a by-product of physical wellness but it's not the main focus. Feeling your best is what physical health is all about.
We all know the basics:
- Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and quality protein
- Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week
- Don’t smoke
- Limit alcohol intake
- Get enough sleep
But it's not enough to just know these things. You also have to make a conscious effort to do them. It's hard work, we know, but when you get to a point where physical activity feels like second nature and healthy eating is just part of your normal routine, it gets a lot easier. Trust us, it's worth it.
“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Health Pillar #2: Mental health
Mental health is often overlooked but it's just as important as physical health. The mind is the command center of the body, emotions, and everything we do. When our mental health is out of balance, it can have a negative impact on every area of our lives.
Why mental health is important
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act on a daily basis. It also plays a role in how we handle stress and make choices in our lives. In short, mental health is essential to our overall well-being.
Just as we need to take care of our bodies, we need to take care of our minds as well. When our mental health is not in balance, we may have difficulty concentrating at work or school, maintaining healthy relationships, or dealing with setbacks and adversity. We may also find ourselves turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse or overeating.
We all go through periods of good mental health and periods of poor mental health. However, by paying attention to the state of our minds and making positive choices, we can stay on the path to wellness.
Ways to maintain the mental health pillar
The key to maintaining a healthy mind is to constantly check in with yourself. Be honest about how you're feeling and why. Oftentimes, awareness is half the battle. Once you know what's going on, you can take steps to make changes.
A healthy mind has many benefits that include:
- Reduced stress levels
- Improved sleep
- Increased productivity
- Greater creativity
- Stronger relationships
- More energy and motivation
Start by taking small steps to improve your mental health. For example, if you're feeling stressed, try relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. If you're having trouble sleeping, try making some changes to your sleep hygiene habits. And if you're feeling low on energy, try adding some physical activity to your daily routine.
No matter what, always remember that you are not alone. Mental health conditions are common and there is no shame in seeking help when you need it. Talk to a trusted friend or family member, see a therapist, or call a helpline if you need someone to talk to.
If you're experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Health Pillar #3: Emotional health
Emotional health is often seen as the ability to cope with life's challenges and maintain a positive outlook. However, emotional health is about more than just resilience. It is also about having a deep understanding of one's emotions and being able to express them in a healthy way.
Why emotional health is important
When we are emotionally healthy, we are able to manage our feelings, set boundaries, and connect with others in a meaningful way. We are also more likely to find fulfillment in our lives and to make choices that are in line with our values.
Conversely, when we are not emotionally healthy, we may have difficulty dealing with stress, communicating our needs, and forming meaningful relationships. We may also find ourselves engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms to feel better in the short-term, but consequently causing more damage in the long term.
Ways to maintain the emotional health pillar
The key to maintaining emotional health is to be aware of your emotions and to understand how they affect you. It is also important to develop healthy management techniques for dealing with stress and adversity. Here are some tips for getting started:
Acknowledge your feelings:
Don't try to bottle up your emotions or pretend they don't exist. Recognize how you're feeling and why. This will help you to understand your emotions and to find healthy ways to deal with them.
Talk about your feelings:
Talking about your emotions can be difficult, but it is a crucial part of maintaining emotional health. Find someone you feel comfortable talking to, such as a friend, family member, therapist, or counselor.
You can also journal which can be a helpful way to process your thoughts and feelings and allows you to better articulate and understand them.
Express yourself creatively:
One way to process your emotions is to express yourself creatively. This can be through writing, painting, drawing, or any other creative outlet that you enjoy.
Take care of your physical and mental health:
Your physical and mental health has a big impact on your emotional health. Be sure to eat a balanced diet, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.
Seek professional help:
If you are struggling to cope with your emotions, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or other health professional can provide you with the tools and support you need to manage your emotions in a healthy way.
Remember, if you are experiencing an emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
Health Pillar #4: Spiritual health
Spiritual health is often seen as a very personal concept. For some, it may be about religion or faith. For others, it may be about a connection to nature or the universe. And for others still, it may simply be about having a sense of purpose in life.
Why spiritual health is important
Spiritual health is important because it helps us to find meaning and purpose in our lives. It gives us a sense of hope, peace, and interconnectedness. When we are spiritually healthy, we are more likely to lead fulfilling and satisfying lives.
Conversely, when we are not spiritually healthy, we may feel lost or directionless. We may also struggle with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Ways to maintain the spiritual health pillar
Here are some tips for maintaining your spiritual health:
Find what's meaningful to you:
What is it that gives your life purpose and meaning? Think about what makes you want to get out of bed in the morning. This may be your family, your friends, your job, or something else entirely.
Connect with others:
Connecting with other people is an important part of spiritual health. Find a community that shares your values and that you can connect with on a deeper level.
Meditate or pray:
Taking time to meditate or pray can help you to connect with your spiritual side and find peace and calm in your life.
Spending time in nature can help you to feel connected to the world around you and can be a great way to reduce stress and anxiety.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. It can be a helpful way to reduce stress and anxiety and to find moments of peace.
Give a helping hand:
One of the best ways to feel good in life is to help others. You can do this by volunteering, donating to charity, or simply being there for someone in need.
Overall, maintaining our spiritual health helps us make sure that our actions and thoughts are in line with our life purpose and values. It allows us to connect with something greater than ourselves and to find peace, calm, and happiness in our lives.
Conclusion on the pillars of health
Maintaining all four pillars of health is essential for leading a happy and fulfilling life. When any of these pillars are out of balance, it can cause mental and emotional distress. That's why it's important to make sure that you are taking care of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health equally. If you need help in any area, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, your health is your responsibility, however, you don't have to do it alone. Health coaches, therapists, and other professionals can help you to create a healthy balance in your life.