Does your personal wellness experience matter?
The thing about personal wellness is that it is so hard to quantify what that means and to then explain to another person. If I were to ask five people what it feels like to be ‘well’ I would get five different answers and herein lies the challenge with communicating wellness.
I recently watched an insightful documentary on Netflix where researchers and scientists were trying to define and quantify consciousness. Not to get too philosophical, but the conclusion was that although we know it all exist there is no way to compute and measure it – although we each know it is a very real ‘feeling’.
One of the tenants of communicating health information (or any information in fact), is to work under the premise that the end user needs to be given as much valid information to funnel it through their mental filtering system, apply their variables to see whether this applies to them.
That may seem like a tall order, but when presenting new information you want to trigger a thought process of why something may or may not be worth taking on. An obvious example would be a recommendation for specific herbal supplements, of which many can have profound contraindications on certain medications. For instance, St John’s Wort can counter the effectiveness of some hormonal contraceptives – we all agree that is a critical footnote to include!
Anecdotal personal wellness stories are king in wellness, especially when it comes to alternative, and complementary practices and regimes. This is often the only source of effectiveness data, often because they have been written off by the scientific community as pseudoscience and mysticism. As a result of this scepticism, clinical studies on these practices are few and far between meaning that we just do not have the same level of data and evidence and traditional medicine and methods.
Instagram is inundated with people who are very vocal about the benefits of alternative medicine, and there is a growing body of anecdotal evidence to suggest that some practices should be considered for further study in an independently controlled manner.
There is a bar of evidence required before we can make claims about our personal wellness experiences. A big part of this is for safety, trials and studies allow us to explore within a monitored framework the risks and benefits of any particular regime for a general population and more important for specific niche groups.
So although you may have had a revolutionary experience, we need to think about it in the macro scheme of everything else. When sharing a personal wellness experience, we need to ask three questions: is this something that will benefit everyone or are their people this could be a risk for, should everyone quit hat they are currently doing and take this on, is it a fact backed up by substantial evidence.
Extraneous variables are a funny little conundrum that can thwart any correlation or claim you are trying to make. The scientific community dub them ‘undesirable variables that influence the relationship between the variables that an experimenter is examining. Another way to think of this is that these are variables influence the outcome of an experiment, though they are not the variables that are actually of interest.
It is for his reason we need to be careful in the wellness sector to ensure that we do not minimise the complexity of wellbeing to a simple algebraic equation. There are always more than two correlating factors, and when we are communicating our story, let’s make it our role to be both realistic and authentic with what we share.