There are a couple of drivers behind this trend. The worsening obesity crisis and the dire state of our mental health in this country combined with our dysfunctional health service are demanding that we look after ourselves. We are fronting up to our unhealthy relationship with alcohol. We are beginning to rely on ourselves to look after our health, to get well and to stay well.
The importance of physical exercise and healthy eating in getting and staying well is cutting through. The success of the RTE show Operation Transformation has reached critical mass. The growth in running, cycling and triatholons in Ireland has been in rapid growth over the last 5 years, while gyms struggle to gain memberships.
The quantified self trend, where technology provides us with external data that helps us manage our health is set to continue. Right now we can track, using wearable devices our steps, distance and progress.
The next trend in technology enabled quantified self movement is internal data. Wearables will tell us our blood pressure, our heart rate, our temperature and other information that we, and the medical and insurance industry can utilize to help us to get and stay healthy.
The other aspect of our health, is our mental health. Stress is Ireland’s modern day affliction. We live in a time when 1 in 4 people will suffer a mental illness. The pressures of family, work and time are not going away anytime soon. Pressure and stress will continue to be permanent features of our society. We need to skill up to manage them, build our confidence in ourselves to cope and restore balance to particular areas of our lives.
The mychiatry trend has yet to make inroads in Ireland. Mychiatry is about proactively managing your mental health, the way many of us do our physical health. There is an ever-expanding self-help section of the bookstore. Mindfulness is all the rage; there are myriad mindfulness clinics and courses, and our primary teachers are being trained in its teachings. Somethings happening that is causing us to want to be present and in the moment. There is an awareness that what is important is now.
We are accessing online forums to gather information and learning more about our mental health, but we are still a distance from managing our mental health in the way we try to (or intend to) manage our physical health. Watch this space though.