Quality of life makes the quantity of days an individual gets more meaningful. It takes into account a wide variety of factors, is rather complex, and essentially a subjective measure.
Despite the complexity and diversity of quality of life, methods to improve it are helpful for many. Learn how to get a better life and more life meaning with these helpful tips.
Quality of Life
What is quality of life? Once used as a catch-all term, research has prompted a more particular definition.
Quality of Life Definition
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines quality of life as "an individual's perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live in relation to their goals, expectations, standards, and concerns."
In other words, the term quality of life is a complex, multidimensional measure that takes into account:
• Physical health
• Psychological state
• Personal beliefs
• Social relationships
• Relationships with the environment
Quality of life is a dynamic condition that responds to life events. It can change rather quickly. In most regards, quality of life is subjective.
In fact, one person's quality of life definition can change quickly or dramatically in response to life events. Some of the many include job loss, illness, and disability.
Quality of Life Health
Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is used as a common measure for health care practitioners and their patients to assess quality of life. It goes beyond the direct measures of a population's health to measure:
• Life expectancy
• Cause of death
• Impact of health status
• Positive and negative emotions
• Life satisfaction
Especially useful in the case of chronic illness, treatments, and disability, the HRQoL helps assess patient outcomes, well-being, and participation in life activities.
For example, an amputee can still participate in social and leisure activities and enjoy a good life. The measures are designed to evaluate overall well-being beyond functional limitations.
Quality of Life Index
Since quality of life is so personal and subjective, it can be difficult to assess and measure. Instead, researchers generally use a combination of the following to better quantify quality of life measures:
• Health status
• Social determinants of health and other lifestyle needs
• Providers' ability to understand and assess how a patient feels about their health
Even with different quality of life indicators and metrics existing, most accomplish the same goal. They aim to measure how both health professionals and patients feel about health and how they have worked to make use of information.
HRQoL enables healthcare practitioners to collaborate, leading to wider health and common efforts in the community. Ultimately, better care results and more individuals have access to the tools they need to lead healthier, longer lives.
Quality of Life vs Quantity of Life
The distinction between quantity and quality of life is important. Often, achieving an improvement in both quality and quantity of life is the ultimate goal.
Quality of Life Comparison
Quality of life refers to a state of well-being. On the other hand, quantity of life refers to an extension of days. It is a crucial contrast to be aware of.
For example, a new treatment path may seem appropriate since it extends the patient’s number of days. However, if it causes severe symptoms and decreases the enjoyment they are able to feel, is it worth it?
This is where quality of life comes into play.
What Affects Quality of Life?
In 1997, researchers identified factors that affect an individual's quality of life based on the WHO definition. These factors continue to play a role today in life quality:
• Physical health
• Psychological condition
• Relationships with others
• Environment one lives in
• Illness acceptance
Quality of Life Calculator
An essential component of quality of life is to have the health practitioner listen to the patient experience. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed the Healthy Days Measure to evaluate how people perceive their own health.
Ultimately, this measure also takes into account "unhealthy days" and can serve as a basic indicator for calculating overall quality of life.
How to Improve Quality of Life
Since quality of life differs from person to person, the methods to improve it are also diverse. Picking a new one each day can help improve quality of life, and each will seem more meaningful and full of purpose.
1. Be Grateful
Gratitude draws the focus away from lack and puts it on to celebrating presence. Creating a list of things to be grateful for is an excellent way to be reminded how amazing life really is.
Each day can truly bring something new to be grateful for!
2. Stay Inspired
A greater purpose, especially at work, has a huge effect. When career paths lack meaning, it can lead to a lack of direction.
For improved quality of life, make a small shift towards a dream today.
3. Smile Often
Smiling is not just "fake it til you make it". The act of smiling is simple, yet studies have shown it can reduce stress. This is true whether or not the smile is genuine!
4. Have a Positive Perspective
Recognize toxic influences as a drain to personal energy. From conflict to clutter, stop procrastinating the things that have a draining effect.
Identifying and eliminating these tasks leaves more room for joy and allows for a positive, realistic perspective to take hold.
5. Act Kindly
Gossip and grudges can be a drain and they certainly do not encourage growth or life expansion. Instead of complaining and resenting others, practice kindness (it will benefit others and oneself).
6. Laugh Frequently
Joy is often exhibited through laughter. Find what makes life more balanced, whether it be playing with a baby or doing something creative.
The ability to laugh at mistakes and move on in the moment is essential to forgiving others and oneself.
7. Be a Survivor
Playing the victim card may be warranted, but it isn’t always the way to grow. Survivors have an abundance mentality, and a mind opens to asking and attracting the things they need.
Instead of staying in a dark hole of uncertainty, keep climbing the way up until there’s a glimmer of light.
Lives become richer with reflection. Intentional meditation refocuses the mind, body, and breathing back to the present moment.
Studies show that mindfulness practices can benefit the mind, body, and overall health.
Don’t let every day be "all work, and no play". Instead, make intentional time and space for leisure. Research shows that leisure activity:
• Lowers stress levels
• Improves mood
• Enhances problem-solving skills
10. Eat Well
The food put into the body has a profound effect. Even hydration alone can cause the body and mind to slow down!
Sometimes broad population recommendations aren’t necessarily beneficial to individual quality of life. Consider seeing a dietitian to improve life and health on a more personal, intimate level.
11. Exercise Daily
Exercise is not all about losing weight. In addition to trimming waistlines, it also has the power to:
• Reduce depression
• Reduce anxiety
• Improve memory
• Improve sleep quality
• Boost overall mood
Just 30 minutes of exercise each day can offer mega health benefits!
Relationships play a key role in health. In fact, research shows that supportive relationships increase:
• Life satisfaction
• Psychological well-being
A digital detox can help to encourage real-life relationships or foster existing relationships with friends and family.
13. Sleep Well
An integral part of a healthy lifestyle, the importance of sleep cannot be overstated. The quality of one’s life is connected to the quality of one’s sleep habits. Physical and mental health can easily be impacted by poor sleep, which can also affect:
• Emotional balance
14. Set Goals
Goals help illuminate values and beliefs. Specific, actionable aims can help create a sense of healthy challenge.
Being accountable can also help one connect with others and better connect with their best self.
15. Be Organized
Messy space, messy mind, messy mood. Creating better clutter habits can make a small space seem much more expansive.
Along with straightened up surroundings, a mind can more easily make sense of broadened horizons and produce a more positive outlook on life.
16. Overcome Fears
Trying something new is an exciting form of learning! Research shows that minds need the stimulation of a challenge and as a result, one can become well-informed and well-rounded.
In Conclusion on Quality of Life
Quality of life is different from quantity of life and measures the enjoyment in each day, not just the number of days.
Many factors influence quality of life, and there are also many actions one can take to improve their quality of life.
Alvarado Parkway Institute. 6 Ways to Improve Your Quality of Life. API Behavioral Health Institute. Published March 16, 2018. https://apibhs.com/2018/03/16/how-to-improve-quality-of-life.
Bień A, Rzońca E, Kańczugowska A, Iwanowicz-Palus G. Factors Affecting the Quality of Life and the Illness Acceptance of Pregnant Women with Diabetes.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015;13(1):ijerph13010068. Published 2015 Dec 22.
Carson TL, Hidalgo B, Ard JD, Affuso O. Dietary interventions and quality of life: a systematic review of the literature. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2014;46(2):90-101.
Gunel S. 10 Things You Can Do Immediately To Improve Your Quality of Life. Medium. Published August 25, 2020. https://medium.com/mind-cafe/10-things-you-can-do-immediately-to-improve-your-quality-of-life-7bb6b7b78cd4.
Heath S. 3 Measures that Assess Patient Quality of Life. Patient Engagement Hit. https://patientengagementhit.com/news/3-measure-that-assess-patient-quality-of-life.
Quality of Life: Everyone Wants It, But What Is It? Forbes. Published September 4, 2013. https://www.forbes.com/sites/iese/2013/09/04/quality-of-life-everyone-wants-it-but-what-is-it/?sh=79faab4f635d.
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Health-Related Quality of Life and Well-Being. Healthy People 2020. Published June 23, 2021. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/about/foundation-health-measures/Health-Related-Quality-of-Life-and-Well-Being.
Scott E. How to Improve Your Quality of Life. Verywell Mind. Published June 13, 2020. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-maintain-a-high-quality-of-life-3144723.
Smith L. 9 Powerful Questions That Can Improve Your Quality of Life. Lifehack. Published November 26, 2020. https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifehack/ten-ways-to-improve-your-quality-of-life.html.