I think the most beneficial aspect of this course was the variety of ways that information was presented. Though the lectures each week were a helpful way of learning information, it was also nice to learn from the novel and guest speakers. This way, the information was presented in ways that felt less cold and more applicable to daily life and the real world. Guest speakers like Dr. Hiller also made the information more applicable in that we were not being presented data or cold facts, but a real account of an experience with the issues that were presented in the lectures. Having these three sources of information really helped to tie the class together for me.
I also found the “meaningful breaks” to be very beneficial. Having a class time that is equivalent to two classes sometimes makes for a long day, but I enjoyed learning new ways to relax and take time for myself, especially because these are ways of stress management that I wouldn’t have necessarily tried by myself.
Overall, I think the main aspects of health psychology that I learned were the importance of managing stress and the understanding of health using the biopsychosocial model. Before this course, I thought of health more as the absence of disease, but I have learned from this course that an individual’s health is impacted by every aspect of life, not just biological issues. I knew before this class that stress can severely impact mental health, but was not aware that stress can cause significant long term damage to both the mind and the body. Especially after reading the novel, I learned that stress has a significant impact on longevity as well.
This course has made me much more conscious of my actions and surroundings. Though some fo the course focused on diseases and other ailments, the sections on stress, sleep, nutrition and positive psychology have helped me to better understand the ways that I can personally impact my own health and the health of those around me. I am also more aware of the way that health conditions can and should be treated. Rather than medications or protocols to solve every issue, it is important to think of all other aspects of the life of a patient in order to give them the best care possible.