Although it is a difficult concept to explain, most people intuitively perceive what quality of life is. That is, although the meaning of quality of life is sometimes not obvious to some people, its notion is clear to everyone. Most people relate quality of life to “feeling good”. In fact, this notion of quality of life is in line with the main factors that influence it, as we will see below, which are health, work and the environment.
Concept of quality of life
The concept of quality of life is very broad, comprising not only physical health but also the psychological state, the level of independence, social relations at home, at school and at work and even their relationship with the environment. In fact, there are naturally other factors that influence it, but let’s start by seeing what quality of life means for the World Health Organization (WHO).
The concept of quality of life is directly associated with self-esteem and personal well-being and comprises several aspects, namely functional capacity, socioeconomic level, emotional state, social interaction, intellectual activity, self-care, family support, health status, cultural, ethical and religious values, lifestyle, job satisfaction and/or satisfaction with daily activities and the environment in which we live.
Quality of life – definition
For WHO, the definition of quality of life is the perception that an individual has of his or her position in life, within the context of the culture and value systems in which he or she is inserted and in relation to his or her goals, expectations, standards and concerns.
This definition includes the influence of physical and psychological health, level of independence, social relationships, personal beliefs and their relationships with characteristics inherent to their environment in the subjective assessment of individual quality of life. In this sense, we can state that quality of life is defined as “the individual’s satisfaction with his/her daily life”.
Quality of life and health
Quality of life and health are inseparable terms. Quality of life is so associated with health that many authors do not distinguish between them. For them, health and quality of life are the same. In fact, health is not the only factor that influences our quality of life, but it is of central importance.
Generally, health and quality of life are two closely related issues, since health contributes to improving the quality of life of individuals and this is fundamental for an individual or community to have health. But it does not only mean physical and mental health, but that these people are not only well with themselves, but also with life, with the people around them, in short, having quality of life is in harmony with several factors.
With regard to health, quality of life is often considered in terms of how it can be negatively affected, i.e. the occurrence of a debilitating disease that is not life-threatening, a life-threatening disease, the natural decline of an elderly person’s health, mental decline, chronic disease processes, etc. All these situations are crippling to our quality of life.
Quality of life and physical health
Physical health obviously affects our quality of life. For example, there is a relationship between physical activity, improved health and quality of life. Similarly, there is a relationship between proper nutrition and quality of life.
Quality of life and healthy eating are closely related concepts. Having a healthy and balanced diet is fundamental for the individual’s well-being. When the body receives the ideal amounts of nutrients and vitamins it needs, its physical health improves and consequently increases the quality of life.
Quality of life and mental health
The concept of quality of life has become increasingly important in the field of mental health and health care, increasing its importance in medical discourse and practice.
It is no coincidence that the WHO’s definition of health is broad. It defines it as “the state of complete physical and mental well-being”. Often, some people when thinking about health and quality of life leave mental health aside.
Mental health, however, is of enormous importance today. We are seeing an increase in cases of chronic stress and burnout, anxiety and depression and so many other psychological and emotional problems.
A person with weakened, depressed mental health, for example, has great difficulty in maintaining loving relationships, performing functions at work and even raising children. A person with emotional problems can influence all family members.
Mental health care is much simpler than it seems, just maintain good relationships with people around you, have a satisfying love life, don’t dwell on past problems, don’t be too demanding on yourself, forgive yourself and others, laugh whenever you can, cry when you need to and love. If you experience difficulties in doing this, it is best to seek help from a professional.
Stress and quality of life
Stress is currently a serious problem with unquestionable implications for quality of life. The problems will be more intense depending on the level of stress to which the individual is subjected, the causes that gave rise to it and the symptoms perceived.
Quality of life at work
It is not by chance that many companies and organizations reveal concern, nowadays, with the quality of life at work. As we know, we spend a lot of our time at work. Many times, we are in contact with our co-workers rather than with our own family. For these reasons, the quality of life at work has come to be seen as fundamental in modern times. When we refer to work, we refer to the activities developed in companies, organisations, schools, etc.
The worker’s quality of life is generally observed taking into account the quality of life in companies and their productivity, but also in aspects of the worker’s life not directly linked to their work. However, some recent controversies use the terminology “worker’s quality of life”, making it clear that quality of life is not only limited to the place and time of work, but also to the relationship with various other aspects, namely personal satisfaction, family relationships, leisure opportunities, etc.
Quality of life in old age
The quality of life does not end in time. Many people are worried and wonder about the best way to have a good quality of life in the present. However, quality of life should also be seen as a future and lasting goal. Longevity is increasing, but sometimes with a reduced quality of life. Many medical treatments allow us to improve our health condition, but often at the expense of therapies that weaken us and reduce our quality of life.
We should therefore seek a good quality of life in all phases of our lives, aware that it is in the elderly that we often observe the greatest problems.
How to improve the quality of life
In order to ensure a good quality of life in the future, we should start to be concerned about maintaining healthy habits, namely: caring for the body, a balanced diet, physical exercise, healthy relationships, having time to perform leisure activities and various other habits that provide the person with well-being and quality of life.
Health promotion is the process that aims to increase individuals’ ability to control their health in order to improve it. To achieve a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, the individual must be able to identify and fulfill their desires, satisfy their needs and modify or adapt to the environment.