What is healthy living?

What does it look like? How do we achieve it?

According to the World Health Organisation, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing." [1]

Healthy living can be defined as the steps, actions and strategies one puts into place to achieve optimal health.

It would be fair to say that most people would agree that a healthy person exercises, is at a healthy weight, eats a balanced diet, feels relaxed, has good relationships and a balanced life.

When approached in this way living a healthy life should be simple to do and easy to achieve.

However, this does not appear to be the case as we are continuing to see so many people suffering from fatigue, depression, insomnia, anxiety, obesity, constant pain and lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancers, arthritis and mental illnesses, to name just a few.

Why then, if it appears that we know what a healthy lifestyle looks like, are so many people living less than healthy lives? Is there a part of the puzzle that we are missing?

Do we not fully understand the true definition of healthy living?

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that our lifestyle plays a huge part in how healthy we are. What we eat and drink, how much exercise we take and whether we smoke, take drugs or consume alcohol, all these factors impact our health.

But is there more to it than this?

Of course eating properly, getting physically fit, emotional and spiritual wellbeing are indeed all a part of creating a healthy lifestyle that is directed towards prevention of illness and disease.

We know more about health and how the body works than ever before and yet the statistics show that the state of our body is not keeping pace. Yes, we have people living longer but we also have more illness, disease, obesity and mental anguish than before. And yes, for many, lifestyle changes like getting fitter and eating better would be very supportive.

But is being fit and eating well really the answer?

  • Have you considered that we have super-fit athletes who have experts telling them how to care for themselves to achieve optimal fitness and peak performance, yet they still get cancer for example?
  • If being physically fit is supposed to be the answer to our health dilemmas why then are we seeing athletes who have access to all the best research and advice getting sick?

Something is not right when everything we are being told will deliver good health, like exercise, doesn’t prevent us from becoming unwell.

For many of us though, keeping healthy is rarely near the top of our ‘to do’ list, with such busy lives that convenience and perceived easier options often win out over more supportive, healthy, loving choices. We often think that going to the gym occasionally, detoxing once in a while, having a few dry days without alcohol or going on a diet will make up for the way we treat ourselves the rest of the time and take care of everything for us. But can these things wipe the slate clean and undo the way we live if we continue with exactly the same ways and habits?

Outwardly we can appear to be fit and healthy and able to function very well in life, but are we really healthy if we are:

  • tired and exhausted and need coffee, sugar and energy drinks to get us through the day
  • stressed, emotional or overwhelmed
  • depressed, down, fed up and lacking in enthusiasm for life
  • feeling empty inside or as if something is missing in life
  • needing alcohol and or drugs to take the edge off how we are feeling
  • living out of balance, fatigued, lacking in vitality and joy?

If we are living stressed out, exhausted and emotionally up and down, would it not make sense that this will influence our body, the way we feel and our health? And would it be worth considering then that there could be more to being healthy than eating well and physical fitness?

Could it be that how we are living, everything that we do and all the choices that we make affect our overall wellbeing and health?

If this is so, then everything we do in life has the potential to support us to be healthy or take us along the path to poor health and eventually illness and disease.

With this in mind, would it not be sensible to make choices that foster health and wellbeing in every moment of the day and not just when we feel that we should go to the gym, diet, detox or lay off the alcohol as we instinctively know what is right for our body and what is not.

Truly healthy living starts with making choices that are respectful and caring of the body and how we feel. This is based on taking time to develop a relationship with our body and ourselves, and requires a commitment to truly care for and take responsibility for our own wellbeing.

And that for us to be and feel healthy, the body and mind require not only good nutrition, beneficial exercise, rest and stress management, but also positive thoughts, love, compassion, playfulness and joy, that come from making self-caring choices, and just being loving every day towards ourselves and others.

Through this relationship and increased awareness of how our choices impact our body and how we feel, we can come to understand that the way we live can be one of our greatest forms of medicine.


  • By Dr Rachel Hall, Dentist

    Dentist, business owner, writer, author and presenter. Family woman, guitarist, photographer, passionate about health, wellbeing and community. Lover of Vietnamese food, fast cars, social media, café culture and people.

  • Photography: Dean Whitling, Brisbane based photographer and film maker of 13 years.

    Dean shoots photos and videos for corporate portraits, architecture, products, events, marketing material, advertising & website content. Dean's philosophy - create photos and videos that have magic about them.