Psychological tools for wellness / Category / Emile Du Toit / October 31st 2015
Do we really need another health and wellness blog? Who is qualified to write such a health blog, if this is even possible? In today’s world of high stress, increasing chronic illness syndromes and misleading contradictors, and often downright inaccurate health articles, the need for an accurate and useful healthy lifestyle program and resultant health care plan is undisputed. But such a health care blog may well be beyond any one author, or even multi-disciplinary team, and all health blogs will come with their limitations. Tools for Health and Wellness explores these issues in this article and also gives an indication of what you, the reader, need to keep in mind when searching for your own personal self-help online health guru.
Some of the questions that I asked myself when considering whether to devote a large amount of time and energy to creating a health and wellness blog were the following:
These are all good questions. I am a clinical psychologist with good skills in cognitive-behavioural therapy, life coaching and neuropsychology across a wide range of disorders and conditions. This makes me inclined to believe that I am qualified to comment on the wellness part in ‘Tools for Health and Wellness’. But my skills as a researcher into aspects of physical health, nutrition and exercise do not suddenly give me a qualification as a M.D., neurologist, pharmacist or even kinesiologist. So what gives me the right to create a health and wellness blog?
The truth is that I am not fully equipped to write a blog about health online, or anywhere else to be sure. There are regions within total health that I am proficient at, in others assuredly less so, and in some areas I am learning along with my readers. However, are there truly any health care professionals who are qualified to write a blog on tools for health and wellness and help people to buy in to a healthy lifestyle program with a constructive, integrative health care plan? Make no mistake, there are no doubt professionals out there who are better qualified than me! However, when I really consider the issue, no skill set is broad enough and yet still detailed enough to cover this entire domain of total health.
The ultimate health and wellness blog would be written by someone with a master of cognitive-behavioural therapy, life coaching, neuropsychology, general medicine with a key focus on integrative medicine, nutrition, exercise, spirituality, finance, kinesiology, biochemistry, virology, genetics and a wealth of other disciplines.
Clearly the perfect health and wellness blog would require collaboration between a fairly large multi-disciplinary team. Which would be excellent in terms of theory-based articles, but the inevitable differences in perspective and opinion would make it somewhat challenging for a reader to integrate into an actual healthy lifestyle program and health care plan.
Anyhow, as my disclaimer clearly states, this is one man’s journey to examine the complex interactions of health and wellness and aid readers in creating a healthy lifestyle program for themselves, towards the ultimate goal of happiness!
The kind of health and wellness blog that I am interested in creating should not only explore the vast range of disciplines that are vital to the mind-body concept of total wellness, but also need to be able to tether together both the theory and practice of an holistic (systemic) view of wellness.
In my opinion many of the health and wellness sites out there are useful but not comprehensively so for self-help.
Most tend to fit into one of the following categories:
Now my issue with these kinds of more singular approaches is not the approach in and of itself, but rather how they then translate into the field of self-help. In most cases this is not their purpose. Text books and websites dedicated to the underlying theories in a particular field are absolutely vital and worth their weight in gold. However, they are largely for qualified practitioners who are then able to use this knowledge to help their clients. Journals describing breakthrough discoveries further aid these professionals to improve their knowledge and clinical ability. The often rather disheveled website summaries of these journal articles provide good reading for lay people, but have very little context to them and are often badly misinterpreted (e.g. commentary on research surrounding the Banting diet v low fat diet). And then on the other side of the equation many of the self-help guides and to-do lists come with very little theoretical orientation or context. ‘These 6 exercises will give you a six pack’ and ‘this new wonder supplement will help you lose 2kg a week’ are unhelpful, untrue and often dangerous. Which does not mean that the particular exercises or supplements cannot lead to improvements whilst maintaining safety, when employed correctly as part of an overarching health strategy. It is just that the actual theory and context are seldom provided.
This in turn opens up the door to outright dishonesty where the only goal of an article is to attempt to sell you something, irrespective of what the research actually says in terms of efficacy or safety. Knowledge on the internet is easily written or indeed copied, without much actual proof of its authenticity or credentials.
In my opinion not so many sites examine health in terms of total wellness (covering a wide range of physical and mental health practices) as well as constructing an actual health model, where the various health articles provide both an overview of what is necessary for complete health, various important theory and breakthrough’s in some of these fields as well as the actual practical techniques that need to be employed to stay healthy.
Anyhow, it seemed important for me to flesh out the goals of my health and wellness blog in more detail and I hope this provides you with a better overview. I will attempt to explain why brief health interventions like fad diets, binge exercising and reactive living are generally not conducive to prolonged health and happiness and why it is imperative to monitor and structure elements of one’s health care with a healthy lifestyle program. We will examine this in the context of total health and the mind-body link that is so vital for ongoing health and wellness. The importance of the mind-body link cannot be underestimated and this helps inform us as to what is therefore necessary for healthy living, including aspects such as building on one’s genetics by maximizing one’s physical and emotional health whilst also improving environmental health factors. As mentioned in this article though, it is imperative to combine theory with practical application. In order to manage healthy living it is important that people can conceptualize and quantify their goals, and I am going to begin this process by mapping out a practical health care plan.
Lastly, with the overwhelming amount of information out there on these diverse range of vital physical and psychological health care topics, I would like to be able to give my readers actual tools to help them to order, monitor and balance their lives better, and thus keep a finger on the pulse of happiness!
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