Salutogenesis: The ability to become and stay healthy

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Salutogenesis: The ability to become and stay healthy

Have you ever heard of salutogenesis? In fact, the term means something to only a few people. That's a shame, because the concept hides valuable resources to protect your health. We would like to explain to you how this can work in concrete terms.

What is meant by salutogenesis?

Salutogenesis is a resilience model developed in the 1970s by the American-Israeli medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky. The model is concerned with people's cognitive coping strategies: Why do some people get sick and others stay healthy despite adverse external influences? Antonovsky tried to fathom this question.

Literally translated, salutogenesis means as much as Emergence of health. It is the counterpart to pathogenesis, which deals with the development of diseases. The model of salutogenesis is based on the sense of coherence, which consists of three components:

  1. Understandability = ability to analyze causes
  2. Manageability = awareness of one's own resources
  3. Meaningfulness = My actions have a Value

Antonovsky held the view that it is primarily the personal resources for overcoming negative stress (physical and psychological) that determine whether a person remains healthy or becomes ill. It can be deduced from this that a targeted strengthening of physical and psychological resilience (Resilience) can help maintain health.

salutogenesis definition

What distinguishes salutogenesis from pathogenesis?

As already mentioned, salutogenesis deals with the emergence of health and pathogenesis with the emergence of disease. According to Antonovsky, both models have their raison d'être.

Pathogenesis deals with the management of diseases. The aim is to cure them or alleviate secondary symptoms. This can be done, for example, through surgery, therapy or the administration of medication. The focus is on the existing disease state or on the physical symptoms. The mental component plays a subordinate role.

Salutogenesis does not focus on the elimination of disease, but on the development of health. What sounds synonymous at first glance has elementary differences upon closer examination: Salutogenesis puts the mental component in the foreground, with stress prevention and stress management in the first place.

What is the goal of salutogenesis?

The concept of salutogenesis encourages people to be aware of their own resources for Stress Management to become conscious. This applies equally on a physical as well as on a psychological level. According to Aaron Antonovsky, crises and illnesses are not catastrophes, but can be a valuable training for the physical and mental defenses.

To take this view, you need a good dose of resilience. Some people have strong psychological resilience by nature, others have to train it specifically. The latter is not easy, but it is certainly possible. The core message of salutogenesis is therefore that we are largely in control of our own health.

Those who make an effort to maintain social contacts, strive for a good education as well as a high standard of living have created the best conditions for a healthy life. A positive self-image as well as Self-reflection also play a decisive role. The concept of salutogenesis states that you must be at peace with yourself mentally in order to stay healthy.

Does salutogenesis leave out external factors?

The statement that you are in control of your own health suggests that external factors that cannot be influenced are disregarded. calm become. However, this is definitely not the case. Salutogenesis definitely calculates disturbing factors into the equation. The three greatest health-threatening influencing factors include:

  1. Chemical factors (e.g. toxins)
  2. Biological factors (e.g. fungi, viruses and bacteria)
  3. Psychosocial factors (e.g. Loneliness, pressure to perform, etc.)

All people are exposed to upper factors more or less frequently. Nevertheless, some people hardly ever become ill, while others react with exhaustion and pain at the slightest confrontation. Accordingly, the decisive factor is the Handling with the stressors, which brings us back to the topic of resilience.

The five pillars of salutogenesis

The concept of salutogenesis states that there is a fluid transition between illness and health. In the course of our lives, sometimes one side and sometimes the other can predominate.

Aaron Antonovsky uses the metaphor of a river in this context, which represents the course of life. When crossing it, there can always be unexpected obstacles. In order to be best prepared for these obstacles, it is important to know the five pillars of salutogenesis.

1. movement

A rolling stone gathers no moss. This frequently quoted Life wisdom there really is something to it. To maintain your health, you should exercise regularly. It's best to set yourself a daily step goal, which you can increase as needed. Alternatively, you can choose a sport that you enjoy and do regularly.

2. sleep

At Sleep important regeneration processes - both on the physical and mental level - take place. The need for sleep can vary from person to person. Seven hours is often cited as a guideline.

But even more important than the duration is the quality of your sleep. To improve this, you should declare your bedroom a screen-free zone. Also, make sure the room temperature is comfortable and not too warm, around 18 degrees.

3. diet

The food you eat is like fuel for an engine for your body. A balanced diet thus contributes decisively to the preservation of your health at. It is best to orient yourself to the Food pyramid as well as to the 10 rules of the DGE.

4. emotional stability

Yours emotions have a direct influence on your state of health. In our hectic society, many people are under permanent tension, which can have a massive impact on health. If the physical and mental recovery phases are missing, diseases can develop.

There are various methods for finding inner peace. Many people already find a walk in nature helpful. But also targeted relaxation techniques such as autogenic training, yoga or Meditation can make a valuable contribution to the health of your body and your psyche.

5. social contacts and environment

Loneliness makes you sick. Current Studies even prove that people with sufficient social contacts suffer less frequently from certain diseases. An intact social life is therefore an important component of salutogenesis.

Furthermore, the natural interaction with our environment and its conditions has been lost bit by bit in recent decades: We spend our time in heated or air-conditioned rooms, drive our cars for every little trip, or use an elevator instead of climbing stairs. However, we depend on natural environmental influences for the development of resilience and physical robustness.

How (and for what) can salutogenesis be implemented in everyday life?

The concept of salutogenesis can help you stay healthy and fit for a long time. To do this, it is important that you keep your physical and mental health in check. Needs and pay attention to them. At this point, we come back to the three essential components of salutogenesis that we mentioned at the beginning: Understandability, manageability and meaningfulness.

Do not ignore your problems, but deal with them in a targeted manner. In the first step, try to understand the connections: Why are you not feeling well right now? What factors are involved? In the next step, become aware of your personal resources: How can you constructively meet the current challenge - be it physical or mental?

Now it is important that you see yourself as capable of taking action. Don't see crises as catastrophes, but as challenges that you can grow from. This perspective helps you to prevent illnesses or to mitigate their course. In summary, salutogenesis helps you to become more mindful, Joie de vivre and serenity in everyday life.

Salutogenesis in the business / professional environment

Stress prevention and stress management are essential components of salutogenesis. This is particularly important in the professional context. Quite a few people fall ill with burn-out syndrome or even become depressed because they suffer from constant excessive demands.

The principle of salutogenesis sensitizes you to your needs and helps you to remain calm in (professional) crisis situations. The basis here is also the sense of coherence, which is made up of the three components explained above. Those who remain calm in critical situations and consequently fall ill less often have better chances of climbing the career ladder.

In the professional environment, however, the focus is not only on the individual employee, but also on functioning teamwork. Since every person has a different level of resilience, some companies already take advantage of coaching offers regarding salutogenesis.

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Reviewed by Dr. med. Stefan Frädrich

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