Health is Infinitely Multifactorial

Health is Infinitely Multifactorial

For the Christmas-New Year break period, a friend and I decided to rent a car and drive down the NSW Southern Coastline. We camped and stayed in beach towns along the way. The trip was designed to be an extended period away from the hustle and bustle of the Sydney Metropolitan area. Both of us are city dwellers, so we thought for our holiday it’d be best to escape the noise of the city.

As we drove by vast ocean views, camped and stayed by lakes, I was contentedly drinking a beer at a local beach hostel when I was hit by a sudden realisation. I was calm. Calmer than I’d been in a long time.

As much as I understand the impact of the environment on an individual… I really cannot underestimate the impact of the environment on my state of mind. Being away from the city for the better part of 10 days rejuvenated the side of me that was calm, relaxed and patient. For the first time in years I felt an overwhelming sense of calm and serenity. I could feel a wave of stillness wash over me as I listened to the tides of the ocean crash against the shoreline.

How much of our clients would change their behaviour if we simply moved them to a different location? This is a recurring thought I had. For example, what would happen if we moved our client from a city, to a rural region?

The traffic would be less.

The lights would be dimmer.

The noise pollution would be less.

How would that influence our clients’ behaviours? Would they be sleeping better? More likely to go for a run on the road?

So much of our internal state of being is influenced by the environment. Something as simple as having green plants in a home could brighten someone’s mood. A funny picture, a memento, a card, are all things that can lift someone’s internal state of being. Perhaps the mystery of behaviour change will never be solved because of these tiny nuances. But it’s still important for us to know.

I have said it in the past and this trip has strengthened my belief that health is multi-factorial, but perhaps more importantly, infinitely multi-factorial. There are so many factors that we cannot measure or know, that have a very real impact on health outcomes. We can do our best to, and will likely find key factors. But we will never find them all.