The Health Triangle
Most of you have probably heard of physical health, maybe you have even heard of mental health if your reading this blog. But have you ever heard of social health? What is the health triangle and why does it matter in your overall health?
Why the Health Triangle Matters
Is physical health the only thing that matters? Or does mental and social wellbeing contribute to your overall health? You are not alone if you thought it was just physical. I used to only focus on the physical (nutrition, exercise, and sleep) aspect of my health. I never even thought about how the other two could impact my overall health.
Have you heard of The Health Triangle? There are 3 states in the triangle that contribute to overall health and wellbeing. Physical, mental and social are all interlinked. If one state is out of balance it affects the other two states.
Physical health deals with your body’s ability to function normally. This includes your diet and nutrition, getting enough physical activity or exercise, enough sleep to recharge for the next day, and weight management. Other things that you may not realize such as your hygiene; this includes taking care of your teeth, keeping your body and hair clean are all important to your physical health.
Exercise helps to give you more energy, maintain weight, and helps battle chronic diseases. Nutrition helps to create a balance of what we eat and the way our body uses the food for energy and growth. On average a person needs about 8 hours of sleep. It is important to maintain that regular sleep pattern which includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Lastly, maintaining a healthy weight decreases your risk of diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes. Exercise and a proper nutrition can help maintain that healthy weight level.
Mental health focuses on your thoughts, feelings and emotions. It gives you the ability to cope with stress and problems that are a normal part of life. Accepting who you are and being positive about it is also a part of your mental health. Being mentally healthy, you are aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
Mental health gives you the ability to learn and develop new skills. The development of skills, behaviors, and knowledge helps you grow as an individual. Learning increases self-confidence, awareness, and self-perception. Stress from school, friends, or family can cause mental illnesses. Therefore, it is important to learn healthy ways to cope with stress. Having a positive attitude is key to maintaining your mental health.
Social Health encompasses relationships with others. Whether that is family, friends of peers, or coworkers. Social health measures the way a person reacts to people in their environment. It includes how they can communicate, care for others, seek and lend support, and the ability to make and keep relationships. These relationships could occur at home, school, work, or social gatherings.
Having a family relationship that is supportive, loving responsible, and balanced can contribute to your social health. Families should work together to eliminate stress and negativity. Strong supportive friendships will increase happiness, self-esteem, and reduces stress.
Don't just focus on the physical wellbeing. Look at your mental and social wellbeing as well. Each of the three are equally important in maintaining an overall healthy life style.
Health Triangle Assessment Exercise
Feel free to download a copy of the Health Triangle Assessment Worksheet to perform this exercise to evaluate your overall health. This exercise will allow you analyze your own health triangle and each of the aspects that contribute to your overall health; physical, mental, and social. Download and print a free copy of the Health Triangle Assessment Worksheet to evaluate your overall health.
Assess your Overall Health
Answer Yes or No to each of the questions associated with each aspect of the health triangle.
I get around eight hours of sleep each night
I eat a well-balanced diet, which includes a healthy breakfast
I keep my body, teeth, and hair clean
I do at least 30 minutes of some form of physical activity each day
I avoid use of tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs
I see a doctor and dentist for regular checkups
I generally feel good about myself and accept who I am
I am able to express my feelings clearly and calmly, even when I am angry or sad
I accept constructive criticism
I have at least one activity that I enjoy doing by myself
I feel like people like and accept me for who I am
I like to learn, think about new things and develop new skills
I have at least one close friend that I keep in contact with regularly
I respect and care for my family
I know how to disagree with others without getting angry
I am a good listener when a friend or family is in need
I get support from others when I need it
I say no if people ask me to do something that I don’t feel comfortable with
Illustrate Your Health Triangle
Once you have completed answering each of the questions you can now illustrate your health triangle. To do this draw each side of the triangle one at a time. Use a ruler and the length of each side should correspond with the number of times you answered yes for that aspect of the health triangle, 1 inch for each yes answer. If you answered “yes” 5 times the length you should draw is 5 inches.
Analyze Your Results
Reflect on your triangle and describe what your overall health looks like based on the results. Think about the following:
Does your health triangle have equal sides?
Is there one area you are strong in?
Is there an area you need to improve on?
List your strengths in each area (physical, mental, and social). Reflect on the top strengths you have based on how you perceive yourself and on the results of the health triangle. Now identify how you can continue to maintain each of those strengths.
List your weaknesses in each area (physical, mental, and social). What areas do you feel you need to improve on or would like to work on? Identify what you can do to improve on each of those weaknesses.