A few months ago I needed medical attention for a long-standing knee pain. The end result was surgery. Then came a hip problem, and an equally long-standing shoulder pain. Strangely, they all affected the same side of my body. When the doctors mentioned the psychological stuff, I just shrugged it off. At first. Then over time I began to wonder if there was something behind what they were saying.
Physical problems are always obvious, but what about mental problems? After all, it is much harder to notice them than physical pain. Are mental and physical problems even separable?
Much research suggests that worry and anxiety have become so much a part of our lives that we are unaware of the impact they have on our lives and therefore on our bodies. Constant stress reduces the immune system’s resistance, for example. The sadder we are, the weaker our body’s defences become.
According to the same view, the relationship with ourselves and our family also plays an important role. The question is, do we love ourselves? How is our relationship with our family and loved ones? Have we experienced any trauma in our lives?
Of course, health is also influenced by many other factors that should not be ignored. These include hereditary factors, lifestyle and environmental factors.
OK, but if it is so complex and complicated, what can we do to support our health? The importance of physical activity has long been stressed by science and the good news is that mental health can also be improved. The solution is multi-faceted, but if you can appreciate yourself, express your feelings and manage your anger and worries when under physical and emotional attack, you are on the road to health. Not easy, is it?
Stressful situations come and go in everyone’s life. They can’t be avoided, but that’s not the point. Rather, the point is to be able to look at things realistically even in difficult situations.
However, we also know that humans are social beings, and that it is through social contact that we learn about ourselves. Our social health and general well-being also includes the need to establish and maintain good relationships with others and to integrate into society.
Taken together, these understandings suggest that health is not so much a stable state, but rather a complex process that affects both body and mind over a lifetime. As in the unity of yin and yang: one cannot function without the other, but only in a mutually reinforcing way, and it seems time to recognise this.