Well-being: Being healthy through the mind, body and soul

Well-being: Being healthy through the mind, body and soul

28 February 2024 Health

Around the world – wherever we are – we are increasingly aware of personal wellbeing and relative holistic approaches. Today we are asking, what exactly does it mean, and does it mean the same in all corners of the world? Read on to find out more, and consider actions you can take to improve your own wellbeing, in a holistic way.

Some history behind these terms

In 1946, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or illness“. The concept of health includes different parts in which well-being is the main pillar. The physical, mental, and social parts are equally important and a balance between them is necessary for someone to be considered healthy. Working on all of these facets is called the holistic approach, which in other words, means to support the whole person including their physical, emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing.

Mental health

Mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual is aware of his or her own capacities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community“, so it is clearly an essential part of personal health and well-being. According to WHO data, more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, the leading cause of disability, and more than 260 million have anxiety disorders. Suffering from mental health problems can clearly impact someone’s day-to-day life and, therefore, end up affecting their general health. Your mental health can be affected by a specific life event, stress at work, a mental illness or just the fact that you are far from home and perhaps don´t have a generic support system of friends and family to talk to.

mental health

Physical health

In addition to mental health, the definition talks about physical well-being. It seems obvious to relate a person’s health to good physical health, but as mentioned above, there are other factors of well-being that are necessary to be or become healthy. Being able to move freely, not suffering from pain or having to take medication are some of the characteristics that can define “a physical healthy person”. Everyone has their own set of genes and lives in the culture they live in, also the job you have may affect your physical health. These things you do not always control, but the one thing you can do to live your healthiest live is to be establishing healthy habits. We all want to live to the ripe old age of 80 or 90, but to enjoy this to the fullest it is essential to achieve this age in good health.

physical health

How to promote health in its broadest sense

Establishing healthy habits such as a healthy diet or having an active lifestyle seems to be a small effort and depends often on your own decisions and motivation. The lack of exercising, for example, is one of the main risk factors for mortality worldwide and is one of the main risk factors for non-infectious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.

Although most of us know it starts with yourself, often the first steps are the hardest. The most important is to start making (small) steps that are easy to implement in your daily live. We don´t all have to aim to run the marathon, but just by taking the stairs instead of the lift you are starting a change. You will see small steps take you farther than you think.


Across the world there are many differences in how a country looks towards health and staying healthy. This goes often hand in hand with the political culture and the wealth of the country. Each country often has it´s specific needs and they may be very different if compared. In developed countries, where the main causes of mortality are cardiovascular diseases and cancer, preventive medicine has played a major role. In third-world countries, preventive strategies (e.g. mass vaccination programmes, health education, water purification) have contributed greatly to the reduction/control of diseases that are highly prevalent in these countries, where mortality due to malnutrition and infectious diseases predominate.

There are three main levels of prevention:

  • Primary prevention: aimed at avoiding becoming ill, such as the administration of vaccines or burn-out prevention, avoiding smoking or drinking heavily, focus on physical activity, using a face mask when smog levels are high, etc. Primary prevention aims to halt health populations from becoming ill.
  • Secondary prevention: aimed at early detection of the disease. This is mainly carried out in the field of oncology, for example, mammograms and pap smears in women over a certain age or for men screening and awareness of testicular- or prostate cancer. These measures are very focused on certain healthy populations that are known to be at risk.
  • Tertiary prevention: this is carried out to prevent the progression of an existing and diagnosed disease and thus improve the patient’s quality of life.

The government, along with more and more companies, devotes resources to these preventative strategies as they are cost-effective in the long term by reducing the incidence of disease.

Prevention: what can you do yourself

Apart from these health programmes, there is a lot that you can apply to your daily live to help to stay healthy, such as:

  • Start or keep on moving. We all know sitting is bad for us, applying small changes like walking a couple of times a week, stand up every 60 mins to take a short stroll or bike to work where this is possible.
  • Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol.
  • Follow a varied diet, with all types of food without abusing sugars and fats. Include healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, etc.
  • Have age-appropriate medical check-ups: for example, mammograms and pap smears for women, but also don´t forget the men’s health for example the check for prostate- or testicular cancer.  
  • Maintain an appropriate weight with a healthy BMI.
  • Try to keep an optimistic attitude, and if you have an “off-day” try to talk to someone about it. We are more connected than ever so plan an online cup of coffee with that friend or family member far away.
  • Sleep well, lack of sleep can cause many of mental and physical problems.
  • Keeping the mind active, you can do this for example by socialising, although this can be challenging in a new environment. Nowadays there are many ways to meet people or just call someone who is not that close to have a laugh…or a cry if needed.
  • Avoid stress and try to find moments to relax. For example by taking some time for yourself or by planning fun or relaxing activities.
  • And finally, don´t forget smile – it can change your day!

You have any topic you would like to discuss with one of our doctors to improve your well-being? Please reach out to our team of doctors available to you at no additional cost. The service is rendered through the e-care portal and supported by Teladoc Health. Don´t hesitate to reach out!

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