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Health is More than Just the Physical

When you think about taking care of your health, what first comes to mind? For many people, physical health is the first thing they think of. But health is comprised of so much more than just the physical. We also need to take care of ourselves emotionally, socially, mentally, and spiritually.

As a family therapist, I’m always looking at how different areas in our lives are intertwined and affect each other. This is true with health as well if you look at it through the biopsychosocial lens. The biopsychosocial model (Engel, 1977) of health says that humans have various elements that make up their overall health and well-being, including those of the biological (physical health), psychological (mental/emotional health), and social (relationships). All three of these areas are interrelated and affect the other ones, and therefore, it is important that we attend to all three of them in our own lives.

A first step in thinking about your own health in this holistic way is to consider which of the three areas you pay more attention to, as well as which maybe get pushed to the wayside. The goal is for the three areas to be as balanced as possible. Some other questions to think about might be:

-What changes can you make so as to focus more on each of the three areas?

-Are there people in your life who may be able to support you as you make these changes?

-How do you know when you are balanced among the three? How does it feel? How are your relationships impacted? How does it feel when they are out of balance?

-Which of the three areas do you think might be the hardest to make changes in and why?

As you think about the above questions, below are some examples of things you can do to enhance each of the three areas of your health:

Bio: exercise, take a walk, yoga, eat a nutritious diet

Psycho: go to therapy, journal, meditate, practice mindfulness

Social: get together with friends/family, join a local group, take a class to learn a new skill

If you are feeling like any or all of these areas are out of balance in your own life, counseling can be a great place to explore ways to enhance them, especially your mental and social health, which can ultimately enhance your overall health.


Engel, G. L. (1977). The need for a new medical approach: A challenge for biomedicine. Science, 196, 129-236.

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