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Focusing on Wellness: A vital shift for improving our Health and Wellbeing

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This is why health and wellness coaches are increasingly being incorporated as important professionals and adjunct treatments within the healthcare continuum.  A compendium of research exists supporting that HWC is a promising intervention for chronic diseases.7 Employers, insurance providers, diverse healthcare settings and mainstream influencers like Oprah are recognizing and acknowledging this new profession as vital in improving our global health.

Accordingly, the Health and Wellness coaching field has reached a new level of professional standardization. Beginning in 2017, the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), in collaboration with the re-named International Consortium for Health & Wellness Coaching (ICHWC) – began administering a national certification exam to professionally credential individual health and wellness coaches.5

What does that say to you about Wellness – and our search for it?

Wellness – the quality or state of being healthy in body and mind, especially as the result of deliberate effort.

If we asked our nation where it would rate itself from 1-10 in terms of its own health and wellness, it’s safe to say the rating is low. Consider also that chronic diseases and the health risk behaviors that cause them account for almost 90% of the nation’s 3.3 trillion in annual healthcare spending. In contrast, the other half of the population considered “well”, e.g. lacking a chronic disease and displaying low health risk behaviors, only account for 3% of our annual healthcare spending. 2 We have experienced an unsustainable rise in lifestyle diseases within the last century. In short – our nation as a whole is not feeling “well” and we are suffering a great economic, physical and emotional impact.

The good news is there is increasing conversation and awareness about this – not just between doctors and their patients, but in households, in companies establishing wellness initiatives and in communities leveraging population health approaches. The awareness is also growing that a focus on “wellness” must be taken by all, including healthcare professionals themselves. While these roles often focus on serving others first, a growing body of literature shows provider burnout is high and prevalent.6 Similar to the oxygen mask scenario on a plane, in order to provide effective healthcare to patients, healthcare professionals must also first put the figurative oxygen mask on themselves – and focus on their health and wellbeing – in order to best serve their patients or clients.

Health & Wellness Coaching is the change agent that shifts the culture and delivery of healthcare from dependency to empowerment.

Let’s come back to Paula. In working with her health and wellness coach and defining a wellness orientation for herself, she learned what underlying assumptions were keeping her from feeling empowered in the choices she could make in her own behaviors. She identified that “flexible and discipline” are a key polarity for her and how to leverage both upsides in order to keep her illness symptoms at bay within her new wellness orientation. She learned about her inner saboteurs, how to recognize when they show up, and how to work with them in order to experience overall wellbeing.

As we – individually and our healthcare system – continue to shift from an illness orientation to a wellness orientation, we have the real possibility of reducing our prevalence of chronic diseases and healthcare costs and transforming everyone’s state of health to one of wellbeing!

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One Comment

  1. Joy Goldman

    January 15, 2019 at 9:36 pm

    Petra, thanks for providing a powerful glimpse into the impact health and wellness coaching makes in our world. I appreciated the balance of statistics and theory, with the illustrative story– one that many of us can understand!

    Reply

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