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Consider a health behavior that you find yourself (as well as family and friends) engaging in (smoking, unhealthy eating, stress management, going to the doctor). Based on your readings, describe and analyze how your health beliefs have related to this behavior? Analyze and discuss the psychological drivers and deterrents that you observe in your own behavior and the behavior of your family and/or friends. (Adapted from Ogden, J. , 2017. ) Health behavior is defined as “ any behavior that related to the health status of an individual”. This can be either negative or positive behavior, and it plays a very important part in determining health outcomes and illness. For this assignment, I evaluated the things that are going on in my own life, and how my health behaviors contributed to my current conditions. The two health behaviors I decided to focus on are lack of sleep, and over indulging in caffeine. I’ve always been one who didn’t need much sleep to get me through the day. I could sleep maybe 1-3 hours each night and still be fine the next day. Sleeping too much more than that always gave me a sick feeling to my stomach, or I would be extremely groggy. It was almost as if my body rejected sleep over the years.
During this time, my health behavior was due to attitude and perception of risk. I would always have people telling me that not sleeping much was unhealthy and that it would eventually make my body “ shut down”, but I always disregarded it. I felt that I was still young, and that I had done it all my life, and nothing bad had happened to me. I also felt people were being dramatic when they would make the shut down statements because I had never heard of that kind of thing happening to anyone. I didn’t believe Health Beliefs and Behavior 3 anything would happen to me, because nothing had happened yet. These health beliefs and not taking the risk seriously contributed to me continuing to sleep very few hours daily, and sometimes even staying up for two days at a time if I was enjoying myself enough, or had too many things to do. I was furthering an unhealthy habit because I didn’t really believe the risk was severe or even realistic for that matter. Another terrible health behavior was my addiction to caffeine. I got addicted to caffeine at a young age. As soon as my parents allowed me to begin drinking soda, I was hooked. I would sneak and drink 5, 6, sometimes even 7 and 8 sodas a day. This terrible habit carried on into my adult years. Although I don’t drink nearly as many sodas today, I still have to have my Coca Cola daily. When I don’t have Coke, I need coffee or an energy drink in order to avoid getting terrible caffeine- withdrawal headaches. Caffeine went from being something I just enjoyed to something I depended on over time. When I began to feel the effects of never being able to get enough rest, and going throughout my days doing so much that I didn’t have time to get rest even when I desperately needed it, I would rely on caffeine to get me through the day. This even turned into me beginning to use 5 hour energy shots just to get me through my graveyard shifts for work because I couldn’t sleep during the day like I was supposed to. All these health behaviors were triggered from my attitude and perception of risk. I didn’t feel like things were wrong or affecting me, even though over time they started to. It was not until last year that it all caught up to me in a major way.
My health behaviors turned into illnesses. My lack of sleep began affecting my immune system. I was getting sick easily during flu and stomach virus seasons, I was feeling sick to my stomach daily from not being able to sleep, and I was intaking more caffeine just to keep going. Health Beliefs and Behavior 4 Eventually this all turned into hypertension, an enlarged heart, and left ventricular hypertrophy. An enlarged heart is more commonly known as “cardiomegaly”, and it’s more of a condition, not a disease. According to Mayo Clinic, “certain conditions may cause the heart muscle to thicken or one of the chambers of the heart to dilate, making the heart larger. ” My cardiologist attributed this to my “ deadly” lack of sleeping, and using caffeine to survive on, paired with high stress levels, my line of work (which also adds high stress levels), and my long term working of overnight shift work. All these health behaviors contributed to my health conditions significantly. My lack of thinking anything could happen to me physically, my disregarding of warnings and advice from others, and my reckless living habits all played a part in my current condition. I am now having to reprogram almost everything about my life in order to improve my heart conditions.
Health beliefs and behaviors have to be on one accord in order for an individual to live a healthier lifestyle. Your beliefs and attitude regarding health and illness has to be one of an aware and serious nature, or your behaviors will quickly become the gateway to your health deterioration. Your perception of risk needs to be existent, or you’ll slowly spiral downward all while thinking nothing serious will happen to you.
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