Sounds nice. What does it mean?
Dictionary.com defines integrated as “combining or coordinating
separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole.”
definition, integrated health can be defined as “the health that exists when there
is health within each of the composite areas that comprise a human life.”
human life, there is the level of the individual as a distinct entity, and then
the integration and coordination of that entity within a group or society.
definition above, integrated health within an individual is when the mental, emotional,
physical, and for some, spiritual dimensions are adequately tended to and in
effective communication and coordination with one another.
By way of
example, everyone has experienced being physically ill and noticing that it
affects your emotional and mental condition.
people, if they are in a struggle with their spiritual life, whether that is a
particular religious affiliation, or another spiritual orientation, that
struggle will translate into angst in the mind, emotions, and even body.
It is now
widely understood and accepted in all fields of medicine that emotional and mental
distress negatively impact physical health.
every-day, commonplace, examples demonstrate how each part affects the
whole. This means that if you are in
ill-health in one area, it will influence the other areas. There is an inherent interconnection within individuals
where each component affects every other area.
Let’s call this individual level the “internal landscape”.
individual sits within a group or a society.
At the group level there are external arenas within which each
individual must operate. Integrated Health
requires health not only at the individual level, but also at the junction
point between the individual and the group/society.
of the societal level include financial, legal, political, and social
components. Effective coordination of
the individual with these external components is essential.
example, that you or your friend is going through financial difficulty and her
house is in danger of foreclosure. It
goes without saying that this will have a profound effect on her mental,
emotional, and physical health. What
about if you or your friend are involved in a law suit? Or what happens when political changes impact
your lifestyle or your love ones?
One of the most important components of integrated
health is the social component: friends, colleagues, professional affiliations,
familial relationships. Again, just
consider going to work after a heated argument with your spouse, or finding out
that your child is ill. Imagine the
impact on your mental, emotional, and physical state. It could even impact your financial life.
Once you have a framework for thinking about
Integrated Health, you can begin to focus on which areas need attention. As one area improves and develops, it has a
beneficial effect on all other areas. As
the whole strengthens, it will have a buffering effect on the composite parts,
which means that if one area is struck unexpectedly by difficulty, the strength
of the whole can more easily withstand the weakness of an individual component.
Take a minute and think about these areas within
yourself and your life. Where are the
strengths and weaknesses in your Internal Landscape? Where are the strengths and weaknesses in
your External Landscape?
Remember, Integrated Health is what results when
each composite part is combined and coordinated in an effective and cooperative
What components can you commit to strengthening in
the next three months? The next six
months? What can be strengthened over
the next year? What can be developed
over the next five years?
This step-by-step approach allows you to gradually strengthen
each composite part and therefore, overtime, strengthen the whole.
That is Integrated Health.