My patients come to me exhausted after years of trying and trying and trying. They know they’re not healthy, but when test after test comes back with no diagnosis, they begin to wonder. What does “healthy” actually feel like? Are they supposed to be this tired? What are the signs of health?

So often we think of good health as being free from a diagnosis, but that’s not real health.

What does healthy feel like? Well… The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines health as, “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spiritespecially : freedom from physical disease or pain.”

Mind, body, or spirit… Why not say mind, body, and spirit? I want all three.

In my experience, health is the fusion of mental, physical, and spiritual harmony.

Practically speaking, what does this mean? What does a holistic vision of health feel like?

6 Holistic Signs of Real Health

  1. Happiness.

    Of course, there are natural ups and downs to everybody’s feelings. But, for the most part, you should be able to take a step back, look at your life, the things you do, the people you surround yourself with, and feel happy.

    If you don’t, that’s a sign of poor health in mind, body, or spirit. It’s time to adjust the sails.
  2. Gratitude.

    Again, feelings of gratitude have a natural ebb and flow. But, when you look at what each day has brought you, a person in good health feels grateful for their life.

    There are terrible days, days which include diagnoses and tragedies that nobody wants to face. You don’t have to be grateful for the awful things, but you can be grateful that you’ve made it this far and life continues to bring sweet things to you.

    When you can’t feel gratitude anymore, your mind, body, and spirit are out of balance.
  3. Peace.

    When you look toward the future, do butterflies fill your stomach? Or do you feel okay about the twists and turns that life will inevitably bring?

    There’s a lot in life we can’t control, but anxiety about the future doesn’t help. When you’re in a healthy place, you should be able to stop in the midst of craziness and find that inner place of peace.

    If you can’t, something’s out of balance. It could be due to physical causes, such as a hormonal imbalance, or due to a traumatic history. Whatever the case, it’s worth addressing. 
  4. Patience.

    So often we inflate our sense of patience. An important test of how patient we are is in how others interact with us.

    When you come home from work, is your family happy to see you? That’s a good sign of patience. Or, are you shouting at the kids again? Do you feel like you’ve got a short fuse all the time? That’s not a sign of health.

    We tend to develop a short temper when we’re struggling in some way, whether physically or with anxiety or depression. That’s why patience is an underappreciated sign of health.
  5. Mental Alertness.
    You’re on point. You hear a problem, you think, and you respond. That’s healthy mental alertness.

    It’s easy to take for granted the ability to think critically and solve problems, until it starts to slip.

    What happens when you wake up day after day in a brain fog? You’re slow to respond to the issues at hand, you forget things constantly, and problems seem beyond your scope of thinking.

    If that’s you, this isn’t healthy and it’s a sign you need to seek out help.
  6. Energy.

    So many people look at this sign exclusively for an indication of health, but it’s only one sign. That being said, it’s important. You need energy to get through the day, and a healthy person has what they need.

    If you’re in pain all day, you’re not going to have adequate energy. Or, if your hormones are out of balance. Or, if you’re fighting depression.

    No matter what you’re dealing with, not enough energy to face the day is not healthy. If you’re struggling to figure out what’s normal, ask yourself these questions:
    • Do I wake up for the day ready to accomplish the tasks at hand?
    • Do I have the energy reserves to handle changes that come my way today?

It’s normal to feel tired in the evening after a full day of life, but you should not start the day tired. If you do, your mind and body are telling you, something’s off. Maybe you’re not getting enough sleep. Maybe you’re doing too much. Or maybe you’re struggling with an undiagnosed health problem. Whatever the case, it’s time to readjust.

In short, healthy feels like…

Life’s good. Maybe not in the middle of a bad day, but when you look at the great arc of your life, life’s good. When it’s not, it’s time to seek help. Each of us will go through times when something’s off, and we need help.

Mind, body, and spirit work together to create health. When one is out of balance, all three suffer. A good functional medicine practitioner is trained to help you address all three areas of health.