The term health is generally used to refer to the state of well being of a person’s mind, body and spirit; often meaning to be free from pain, illness or strain. Psychology on the other hand is defined as the study of mind (both conscious and the unconscious) usually through the examination of behavior. This is aimed at identifying general trends in human mental development, establishing particular psychological related dysfunctions and creating a unified understanding of individuals and groups (Banyard 2002). With this understanding, it is important to note that health and psychology are interdependent. For instance, the term health-psychology refers to an emerging field that is concerned with investigating how biological, behavioral and psychological factors contribute to or affect physical health (Sarafino 2011). Health psychologists work together with other medical professionals in clinical settings in their quest to determine how psychological well being or lack of it affects the physical health of an individual.
In a work place setting, the health of individuals is of great concern since employers provide health insurance coverage for most of their employees and in the recent past, employers have been facing skyrocketing health care costs. Thus, there is a great need for employers to discourage unhealthy lifestyles among their employees while promoting healthy living in a bid o cut down on such costs, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity (Robbins Et el 2011).
There are a number of lifestyles choices that affect health and psychology of individuals in a work place. Social, environmental and behavioral factors contribute to the health psychology of individuals (Sarafino 2011). For instance, a busy and overburdened work schedule often weighs down on an individual’s mental well being and if not arrested, it may develop into poor physical health such as migraines and body fatigue. Furthermore, such a schedule leaves the individual with no free time to engage in health promoting activities such as physical exercises or time to rest and rejuvenate their bodies. Other high-risk lifestyle behaviors in the work places include drug and substance abuse, chief among them being tobacco and alcohol abuse. The abuse of alcohol and tobacco is usually associated with peer influence, and the workplace offers considerable amount of peer pressure since different employees find themselves in distinct age and socio-economic groupings (Banyard 2002). Such lifestyle choices will lead to physical health complications.
Work related stress is also a major cause of poor physical health. Stress may be due to unreasonable targets that employees are required to meet, unprofessional or poor management as well as maladjustment of the employees in the workplace following some major changes (Robbins Et el 2011). If the employee fails to seek help, such stress can develop into depression or other stress related mental illnesses. In addition, failure to maintain the recommended body weight can lead to obesity which is usually associated with a number of health complications such as coronary diseases and high blood pressure.
Healthy lifestyles that enhance health and prevent illnesses include eating a balanced diet, maintaining an appropriate body weight, undergoing routine health screening programs as well as taking immunization against preventable chronic diseases. Physical exercise and maintaining a healthy mental well-being also enhances health and reduces illnesses. Getting regular and adequate amount of sleep gives the body enough time to regenerate used energy. Moderate use of alcohol or not using it at all also enhances health. Avoiding tobacco and substance abuse is also a healthy lifestyle that helps prevents opportunistic illnesses such as cancer (Banyard 2002).
In conclusion therefore, employers should not ignore the deep connection between health and psychology but should instead strive to promote a friendly environment in the work place that caters for both physical and psychological well-being of the employees. Promotion of healthy lifestyle is a key component in such a process. Therefore, good mental health is a reflection of proper physical health management and vice versa.
Banyard, P. (2002). Psychology in practice: Health. London, England: Hodder & Stoughton Educational.
Robbins, S., Decenzo, D., & Coulter, M. (2011) Fundamentals of management: Essential concepts and applications (7th ed.) Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.
Sarafino, E. P. (2011). Health psychology: Biopsychosocial interactions (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.