Surviving to Thriving – Mental Toughness (Steve Harris)
Chapter 2. SURVIVING TO THRIVING GUIDE
Differentiate between signs and symptoms of wellness
I like to use the following anecdote in change management; respond to the light or you will have to react to the heat. The light I am referring to can be interpreted as the signs of change and the heat is the symptoms.
John W. Travis’ Illness–Wellness Continuum (1972) introduced the notion of responding sooner to emerging situations in a wellness context. He differentiated between the signs and symptoms that indicate wellness and explained their relationship to proactivity and reactivity.
Moving towards ill health
By using a continuum, Travis illustrated the differences between a good health paradigm, on the right side of the continuum, representing improving wellness leading to superb wellbeing. On the left side he had increasing illness culminating in premature death. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2019) claims that 60% of premature deaths are attributable to lifestyle diseases. We can view premature death metaphorically as well, like the premature death of our intentions, a loss of relationship, failure in business, or even diminishing physical and mental abilities. This left side of the continuum is characterised by energy leaks, illness, and suffering. In summary, failing.
As one moves to the left of the continuum there is progressive worsening, starting with signs, then manifesting in symptoms and finally the real or metaphoric premature death.
Physical symptoms of declining wellness (I will not expand, as you have often seen them)
Disturbed sleep patterns
A poor or obsessive exercise regime
Deficient food habits or neurotic control over your eating
Signs and symptoms of declining mental wellness
It’s generally agreed that one of the starting points, and possible causes, of declining mental health, is trauma. I have even heard trauma referred to as a mental injury in some circles.
When you consult psychiatrists because you are experiencing mental health issues, and are distressed or in a psychological crisis, they are likely to diagnose one of the disorders catalogued in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). These diagnostic labels, given in the DSM, invariably have the unintended consequence of compounding existing feelings of humiliation, of stigmatizing and of exclusion, for the distressed person.
For those who are significantly symptomatic, hospitalization is often the first line of treatment and, in most cases, clinicians prescribe pharmaceuticals in the form of neuroleptic drugs. Tragically, the side effects of this regimen usually make already fragile people feel more powerless and increasingly vulnerable.
I would like to suggest an alternative approach to the allopathic method and have come across many encouraging case studies, but I fear that in extremely symptomatic cases there is an overwhelming concern that the distressed person may inflict self-harm or harm others, due to their mood swings or a lack of self-awareness. This elevates the prominence of the psychiatric medication model.
However, I am concerned that a medication approach in isolation of psychotherapy, exercise and nutritional options can lead to worse mental health issues including disability or suicide. These two are the major negative outcomes that loved ones are trying to avoid when they accept the use of medication. If medication has been prescribed, I believe it is important that it is applied within a holistic approach that includes an exit strategy to wean the affected person off the medication if, or hopefully, when they stabilize. However, despite my preference to stop medication once the patient has stabilized there is a possibility that they experience new mental health issues if the withdrawal of medication is not carefully monitored.
Of course, there is the chance that the only option is medication as the affected person has an underlying pathology for which some level of medication seems to be the only practical route. As you can tell, I have opinions but do not have the experience nor the acumen to have a definitive approach to this problem. Will Hall, an American mental health advocate and leader in the recovery approach in mental health writes and speaks eloquently on this topic. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Hall)
Write to us and let us know how you suggest one moves wellbeing from red oceans to blue oceans
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From the 2nd – 5th December we will be hosting a series of live webinars & events aimed at our Fitness staff inclusive of all our PTs & Group Exercise Instructors. We call this collection of events our Inspired Conference.
The purpose of the conference is to Educate, Collaborate and Motivate our people in preparation for what we hope will be an amazing 2021.
I would like to invite you and your organisation, including past and present students, to attend these events digitally (free of charge), to hopefully give you a taste of the vision and direction we as an Exercise team at Virgin Active, are moving towards for the upcoming year.
We have been able to secure some amazing local and international presenters, all of whom very much show off the Virgin Active DNA we are so proud of.
Places are however limited and so attendance / bookings will be on a first come first serve base. Please thus book early to avoid disappointment as each webinar has a maximum of 500 slots.