SFH #81: Salutogenesis

Help build your health repository 🔥

Stressors are widespread in our lives; one could argue more so than ever before. Poor 👎🏽 stress management leads to a movement toward dis-easeGood 👍🏽management pushes us towards health ease. It sounds so natural and straightforward. Right?

This unprecedented time in our history has been challenging for our personal and global health, to say the very least. Even when the world isn't flipped on its head, we struggle to eat all the 'right' foods, get intentional movement frequently enough, get good sleep, and find the time for our family, community, and ourselves. With how we maintain our health or optimize for our ideal lifestyle, I like to take a more modern approach--salutogenesis.

Salutogenesis means "creation of health." It contrasts with what we can expect from our current healthcare system--pathogenesis 🦠. Pathogenesis looks at factors that cause disease versus a salutogenic approach to wellness, looking at health as on a continuum between "dis-ease" and "ease.

Courtesy of Amanda Lyons and Health of the Nation

Most of the modern world still hasn't buckled into this. Consider a common intervention that any of us could experience with particular mental health symptoms. Our doctor is highly likely to prescribe an antidepressant (an SSRI) that blocks our serotonin uptake and helps regulate mood. There are plenty of reasons to consider this approach, and I can point out several reasons to start with a foundational course of action.1 2 3

A medical professional will look at supporting your well-being rather than just disease prevention in the salutogenic approach. Your provider could offer a diverse set of methods that can help regulate mood and manage serotonin levels like movement, meditation, food choices, sleep hygiene, exposure to sunlight, thought patterns, and even self-talk. The beauty in the example above is that we have direct control of all of these factors. And these factors underpin our entire health profile.🌟

The pharmacological (pathogenic) solution can only do so much and worse yet, potentially harm us. It's more of a magic pill theory. 💊 Most pills have side effects, not magic. On the other hand, using meditation before these symptoms show up may improve your mood, not to mention all the researched health benefits it may compile for you.4 I'm not here to slam taking pills. I merely want to make a case for a potentially better approach to frame how we support our health. When we lean into a salutogenic path, we open up to new possibilities. We can add to our health repository versus manage our symptoms. We can still get sick, and we can still treat and intervene with pharmacology. We just don't need to have it be the ‘go-to’ methodology.

Here are the three (3) primary updated principles of Salutogenesis:

  1. Wellness is a dynamic balance. ⚖️ Being able to understand the complete picture of your health balance. The comprehensive view.

  2. A diverse approach is vital. There is no one magic solution. A little bit of many good things goes farther than one great thing. 🛤 The manageable view.

  3. How we frame our thoughts and self-talk around our health is how we live. Your story is as important as our actions. It creates meaning for us.🗣 The meaningfulness view.

I suggest we can all take compressive control of our health so that we may realize that our most exceptional health has a higher ceiling than we might know! 🏔