Everyone gets sick sometimes, be it a cold, the flu, breaking a bone, or something more serious. There would be few who had never experienced a physical issue at some point in their lives. Most of the time, with the right treatment, these physical issues resolve. However, some issues such as diabetes, weight management, sleep problems, and chronic pain, can hang around, wearing us down over time. Dealing with these on an ongoing basis can lead to psychological issues such as stress, depression, anxiety, and difficulties with adjustment. These can in turn affect how we manage our physical symptoms.
Health Psychologists specialise in looking at how the physical, psychological, and social factors within a person’s life can affect their wellbeing. They can identify the elements within our lives that may not be working optimally and then help us make sustainable adjustments to improve those elements. Ultimately, health psychology is about empowering individuals to better manage their health.
Having a chronic illness can at times be debilitating. With the right help, it doesn’t always have to be that way. A Health Psychologist can help us recognise how the chronic illness is affecting us and prevent it from defining who we are. This process centres on appreciating our strengths, shifting our self-expectations, and learning to be kinder to ourselves. It works towards improving quality of life and learning to live with challenges.
We are often familiar with the signs and symptoms of physical health issues, and where to go in looking for help. Mental health can be a different story. These issues can sometimes go unnoticed until things are very wrong, or until someone else notices. Our natural habit is often to soldier on and wait for sanity to resume, using the coping strategies we are already familiar with. Sometimes these strategies can be enough, however at other times they can make things worse. A Health Psychologist can identify the less helpful patterns and strategies and help us move towards more effective coping techniques.
The patterns and strategies we all use the most don’t come from nowhere. They are often developed as we are growing up and forming our picture of how the world works and how we thrive. These patterns can become very entrenched, so even when they lose their usefulness it can be very hard to change them.
At the end of the day, Health Psychology is about identifying what isn’t working within our lives and making sensible changes to improve it. A Health Psychologist can help us explore issues within both our physical and psychological health in a holistic way, specialising in treating us as a whole person rather than a collection of symptoms.
With the right help and motivation, making changes in our lives doesn’t have to be hard. If you think you are ready to make your life better, find a Health Psychologist and have a chat!
Written by May Wong – Cause Effect Psychology