Can you avoid the quick fixes of the “wellness” industry?

Is “wellness” a term or a state of mind dreamt up by the annoying “smashed avocado” flat white drinking millennials. It’s a fashionable term  for an elusive state that is constantly strived for but is it ever achieved. Is it just a way of abdicating the responsibility for the state of our health. There was a time when being well  was seen simply as not being sick……. “wellness” now become an aspiration.

BS meterWellness appears to be in a state that is constantly indefinable, just as you think you’ve achieved it the goal posts are moved, and often by others. Our wellness is rated against standards  and commented on by others – “you’re looking well”. It’s a business which has grown from the box ticking exercises of employers to an industry which encompasses everything from boutique fitness gyms to day spas, and is now valued at a monstrous $4.2 trillion, having grown 12.8% in the last two years. The industry now represents 5.3% of global economic output. But is the wellness industry taking advantage of our fears and insecurities in the name of profits. Is it exploiting our willingness to outsource our health to Instagram gurus and fancy Facebook marketers who have created a new culture of consumable wellness  in which mental and physical serenity is only a juice cleanse away.

We now barely get to grips with the latest fad before a next craze is released, guaranteed to always offer more attention-grabbing trends and quick fixes. Our society is becoming ever more enthusiastic about gimmicks because they offer promises of an easier existence and instant improvement or relief.  These ‘great ideas’ from  enthusiasts and gurus, who are good-hearted and well-meaning but who somehow miss the pragmatic realism  that knowledge, hard work and discipline is the only secret to achieving any goal. But that doesn’t stop people trying to hunt for an easy option.

But what causes wellness? What is it that makes us well? Is it Simply avoiding or treating the causes of illness? Are we well when we are not ill ……… In reality there is a spectrum of wellness from Pathogenesis (disease) to salutogenesis. Salutogenesis is a term coined by Aaron Antonovsky, a professor of medical sociology. This term describes an approach focusing on factors that support human health and well-being, rather than on factors that cause disease (Lindstrom & Eriksson, 2005). Put simply pathothogenisis is based on the study of the origin, causes and treatment of diseases whereas salutogenisis is focused on the causes and promotion of health.  Maybe these wellness trends are filling the gap left by our institutional state healthcare. The health system in Ireland like most,  is based on a reactive model ; it is a “sick care” structure. Our system waits for us to become sick before providing appropriate reactive treatment and action. This strategy is not intended to help stop the onset of disease and promote health  but instead to diagnose and treat illness once it has developed. Our healthcare system is designed around an acute care concept, in which the focus is to fix rather than prevent.  Hippocrates – the father of our modern medicine lived about 2400 years ago and even then he recognised that preventing is better than treating. He  that the human body functioned as one unified organismand must be treated, in health and disease, as one coherent, integrated whole. So wellness is not a new idea. According to Hippocrates disease resulted from disharmony and imbalance and good health could only be restored ad maintained by correcting this disparity and restoring harmony (Grammaticos & Diamantis, 2008). But as the wellness industry appears to be thriving, it most always be remembered that wellness is not medicine. “Wellness” may fill the gaps left by our healthcare system but we should never let it exploit them.

References

Grammaticos PC & Diamantis A. (2008). Useful known and unknown views of the father of modern medicine, Hippocrates and his teacher Democritus. Hell J Nucl Med 11, 2-4.

 

Lindstrom B & Eriksson M. (2005). Salutogenesis. J Epidemiol Community Health 59, 440-442.

 

 

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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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