Why Everyone (Healthy and Not) Needs Lifestyle Counseling
You might have heard it said that America doesn’t have health care, but instead has “sick care.”
This comment reflects that fact that, of the money spent on health care in the United States, 75% is spent on treating preventable diseases. In other words, Americans spend more money treating sick people than promoting behaviors that prevent sickness.
But many folks are working to change this by taking charge of their own wellness. One way to do this is with healthy lifestyle counseling.
Depending on your current situation, lifestyle counseling can help you either improve or maintain your health. Let’s look at some of the ways it can benefit you personally.
What Is Lifestyle Counseling?
The purpose of lifestyle counseling is to help a patient identify factors that affect their wellness and to learn better habits and behaviors. Like other types of counseling, health counseling is centered on directed conversations between the patient and the provider.
Lifestyle counseling can focus either on preventative measures or on behaviors to alleviate current ailments. For instance, a patient with a family history of high cholesterol may seek health counseling to learn good diet habits. By contrast, a patient with diabetes may benefit from counseling to learn habits to maintain their condition.
What Kinds of Behaviors Will Counseling Address?
When you visit a lifestyle counselor, they ask a variety of questions about your daily habits and practices. This helps them to get a better idea of what factors could be affecting your health.
For instance, most lifestyle counselors will ask questions about your eating habits. This will help them identify whether your diet is healthy.
In some cases, a counselor may identify foods in your diet that could be adversely affecting you. For example, while you may not have noticed that you tend to experience stomach problems after eating dairy or eggs, a lifestyle counselor might notice this.
Of course, exercise goes hand in hand with nutrition. Based on your current level of fitness, they will recommend exercises that are appropriate for you.
A counselor will also ask about your sleep habits. They typically ask how long you sleep, and whether you sleep through the night.
Sleep allows the body to heal itself and manage stress. If the counselor notices that your sleep is irregular, they can help you identify habits to promote better sleep.
Finally, they will also ask about your relationships with your friends and family. While this might not seem relevant to your overall health, it actually has a big impact on it. People who have supportive relationships in their life are more successful in implementing healthy activities.
What Are the Benefits of Counseling?
If you are generally healthy, you may feel that you do not need health counseling. But the truth is that both healthy and sick people can benefit from counseling.
Avoid Preventable Illnesses
As we discussed at the beginning of this article, most health costs in the United States are related to treating preventable conditions. One of the biggest benefits of health counseling is learning behaviors to avoid these conditions.
For instance, research indicates that the average cost of treating type-2 diabetes over a lifetime is $85,000. Investing in lifestyle counseling could help a patient learn to manage their sugar intake early in life, making it less likely that they will develop diabetes. Preventing these kinds of chronic illnesses will lower patient health care costs significantly.
Another large source of health care costs is obesity-related disease and complications. Factors related to metabolic syndrome, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can be expensive to manage. Adopting healthy eating and regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of developing these illnesses.
Healthy eating and exercise are not the only lifestyle factors to consider when seeking health counseling. Mental health-related issues like stress and anxiety can also be addressed with health counseling.
Stress is related to many adverse health symptoms, including muscle pain, insomnia, chest tension, and headaches. Counseling can help patients learn strategies to combat stress. These include breathing routines, exercise, and meditation.
Get a Full Picture of Your Health
One of the problems with America’s approach to healthcare is that it can sometimes be fragmented. If you are experiencing stomach pains, you will visit a gastroenterologist. If you have trouble sleeping, you will seek out a sleep specialist.
Each of these specialists will look at one aspect of your health and will respond to that aspect. As the old saying goes, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” This can prevent physicians from identifying the connections between varied symptoms.
By contrast, a lifestyle counselor works to find the root causes of symptoms. For instance, if you are having digestive problems, trouble sleeping, and muscle pain, a lifestyle counselor may be able to identify stress or anxiety as the root cause. This way, you can treat the causes of your illness, rather than just manage the symptoms.
Promote Employee Wellness
Most Americans with health insurance receive their health insurance benefits from their employer. Since patients with good coverage do not have to cover all of their own medical expenses, they sometimes do not consider the costs of developing long-term health problems.
Even if employees do not always consider these issues, their employers do. This is why many employers are adopting corporate wellness programs, which promote healthy living among their employees. By promoting employee wellness, employers can lower their health care costs.
This is why many corporate wellness programs include access to lifestyle counseling. The goal is that investing in this counseling will lower the total cost of health care for all employees. Additionally, healthy employees are often more productive, which boosts the company’s bottom line.
Taking Steps to Better Health
With the right lifestyle counseling, you can develop healthy habits that will improve your quality of life.
If you want to learn more about how counseling can improve your lifestyle, contact us. Our experts will work with you to find the perfect plan for your needs.