From Head to Toe: Understanding Your Body and Mind for Total Health

Achieving total health requires attention to all aspects of your body, including your physical, emotional and mental well-being. You may be tempted to focus on one of these components, but doing so only leaves your health wiggly and susceptible to disease or injury. The concept of harm reduction in medical and health practices aims to minimize the negative consequences that can arise from certain behaviors or activities.

A total body wellness approach will help you improve your health and wellbeing, as well as your happiness and productivity levels. Whether you are a health professional or a lay person, learn to look at your own body and mind from a whole-body perspective.

Physical Examination

During your physical examination, a doctor will evaluate your body using observation, palpation (feeling with the hands), percussion (tapping the fingers), and auscultation (listening). They may also ask about your medical history, personal health concerns, or medications.

A physical exam is the cornerstone of preventive health care. It provides reassurance that you are in good health and allows your doctor to become familiar with you.

The exam can include a variety of tests, including blood pressure and cholesterol. It can also help to identify problems before they become severe.

Mental Examination

Mental examinations provide a detailed assessment of the patient’s mental functioning, through a series of tests or questions designed to determine level of consciousness, orientation to the environment, and higher cognitive function. This information is helpful in the differential diagnosis of organic versus psychiatric illness, and in the treatment planning process for mental disorders.

Affect, which is a moment to moment expression, is assessed by observation of posture, movements, body and facial expressions. It is important to observe a patient’s non-verbal communication as well, and note their attitude in relation to their behaviour.

Perception is an essential part of the mental examination, as this is where we can see how a patient’s thought processes are affecting their behaviour. Hallucinations, for example, are an important aspect of the mental exam, as they may be indicative of a more serious issue, such as dissociation.

Emotional Examination

Emotional health is a key part of understanding your body and mind for total health. The ability to manage emotions, express them and handle stressful situations is a vital skill for living a healthy life.

The ability to understand and explain your own emotions and those of others, enables you to better manage stress and build positive relationships. Low rates of emotional health are linked to higher rates of depression and mental illness, so it is important to take steps to maintain your overall wellbeing.

Practicing optimism and gratitude, cultivating social connections and developing a positive self-image are all ways to promote emotional health.

There are many types of tests that can help you determine your level of emotional intelligence, which is an essential skill to achieving optimal health. These include a variety of self-report and observer-based assessments, which are all validated and available free of charge for research and clinical purposes.

Nutrition Examination

A nutritional examination is one of the most important aspects of understanding your body and mind for total health. It includes an examination of the foods you eat, the activities you do, and the way you feel.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a program of studies that assesses the health and nutritional status of children and adults in the United States. It combines interviews and physical examinations at mobile examination centers.

NHANES data provide information on the prevalence of a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and infectious conditions. The surveys also examine factors that affect the onset and progression of these conditions.

A head-to-toe assessment is typically conducted when it is determined that the patient needs a thorough examination. The assessment is generally conducted by using inspection, palpation, percussion and auscultation.