08/28/2013 04:56 pm ET Updated Oct 28, 2013

Promoting Health as Love

I find such joy in my work as a women's health and wellness consultant to hospitals, clinicians, and consumers around the country. I often wonder how I got so lucky to be able to explore with so many people in so many places what it means to really be healthy.

After more than two decades, I can now say that I have an answer to what "health" is to most women as well as how it is perceived by the very best doctors I have met.

Thankfully, it is nearly the same definition.

Health is the feeling that everything is all "right" in balance, and at its most vibrant best. For health care providers, this means a patient who has the "right" numbers in support of an active, positive life. It means that her patient does not complain of exhaustion or sadness, weakness or chronic pain. Incidences of "disease" are temporary and curable -- a bump in the road of a healthy life.

For women, and perhaps for many men, health also has an underpinning of feeling cared for and confident in herself and her life. For the past 25 years, I have been interviewed by dozens of television and radio stations as well as print media. NOT ONCE have any of the interviewers drilled me on blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol ranges or the perils of obesity and unhealthy lifestyle choices. Instead, they have always focused on my work in the lesser known risk factors for disease -- influences like the lack of intimacy, laughter, or friendship in our lives and how they have negative impact on our health. The media inevitably focuses on love, sex, friendship and having fun as "preventive" medicine and how people can worry less about what they are not doing right and concentrate on the things that are both healthy and make them happy.

What if your own doctor began to promote your annual physical as a time to learn how to put more lightness, fun and energy in your life? What if your hospital promised women and their families better, closer and healthier relationships? Wouldn't we all pay closer attention? Tired of feeling guilty about not working out enough, not losing enough weight, not having lower cholesterol -- perhaps Americans need permission to love themselves to health.

This past July, I was invited on FOX5 News This Morning in Las Vegas to talk about the role of love, laughter and friendship on our cardiovascular health. It was a rush of a television segment but the entire studio came alive, laughing, joking and wanting a fresh approach to health and wellness that makes them feel good about themselves.

In this day and age, we need far more focus on the light and positive in our body, mind and spirit to not only survive the phenomenon of constant change and challenge, but to conquer it with physical stamina and joy. Research repeatedly shows that good health, strong immunity and disease resistance is directly correlated to positive attitude, social connection and self-acceptance.

Spirit of Women -- my life's work -- helps hospitals and clinicians promote their services as remarkable human experience rather than intimidating diagnostics, medical treatments and stressful procedures. Sure, we need these things in health care but first and foremost we need NOT to be afraid of medicine but to embrace it as "way points" -- not end points for our health. Spirit of Women builds communities of women who celebrate the health of their spirit as much as they do their strong, healthy bodies.

For more information on the Spirit movement for health, read our online digital magazine.

In the Spirit of Health as Love and Laughter,

Tanya Abreu

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