Healthy Writing

New Year, New You. The Power of Complementary Therapies. Revitalise Your Life. Boost Your Energy. Miracle Herb. No doubt you’ll have seen headlines and taglines like these in newpapers and magazines. Acres of newsprint are now devoted to health and wellbeing. And it’s not just in January –  this is a year-round trend.

Why have health and lifestyle articles become so popular? First of all, once our basic needs for food, shelter and clothing have been met, we can turn our attention to our inner well-being. Even in the midst of an economic downturn, we can afford to devote time and money to therapies and products that will boost our health and ease the stress of modern living. As well as that, articles that promote health and positivity act as an antidote to the deluge of doom and gloom stories that dominate the headlines.

As a writer, I have benefited from this trend, though admittedly I have concentrated on the medical end of the spectrum. I have been absorbing health-related media all my life and always longed to write health articles of my own, so a few years ago, I took the plunge and began approaching outlets. I have concentrated on the Irish Medical News and Irish Medical Times, writing about groundbreaking research to treat eye conditions and about rare diseases.

However, I have also written for the Irish Examiner Feelgood Supplement, whcih has a more soft-focused, lifestyle based approach. I was privileged to tell the story of an autistic woman who managed to build a normal life for herself, thanks to a treatment which corrected an imbalance in her hearing. Her overdeveloped sense of hearing was one of the contributing factors to her autism.

The appetite for articles and television programmes devoted to improving our lifestyles has benefits for businesses in the health-and wellbeing field. If you practise complementary therapy, have created a herbal remedy to cure skin conditions, or offer a unique weight-loss solution, you’re sure to find a slot to fit your business. Health supplements in newspapers, lifestyle-based television programmes and the health and beauty sections of magazines all offer opportunities for health-based businesses to showcase their products and services.

If you have expertise in a particular aspect of health and lifestyle, you are in a lucky position. There are plenty of journalists working in the field who are interested in your story and plenty of readers and listeners eager to lap up your expertise. You have something worthwhile to offer, soemthing which will truly benefit people’s lives, so don’t be afraid to use the media as a platform for your business.

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Writing, Silencing the Demons Wihin

Number one on the bestseller list. Millions of books sold, translated into several languages. Scores of media appearances and book signings. A glamorous cover photo. On the surface, the life of author Marian Keyes is a dream that all budding novelists aspire to. Yet in her January Newsletter, Keyes confessed that she is suffering from depression.

Keyes has never been one to shy away from the dark side. The experiences of characters in novels such as Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married, Rachel’s Holiday and This Charming Man are clearly drawn from experiences in her own life. In her non-fiction pieces, she is frank about her battles with alcoholism and depression. She has always struggled with a sense that there is something wrong with her, no matter how well her life is going. It is this honesty and humanity, mixed with humour, that is at the root of Keyes’ success.

Many writers and artists are afflicted by dark, brooding thoughts. They feel things deeply and can often be unusually sensitive. It may be a cliche to say this, but cliches have a habit of being true. While many writers take a no-nonsense, career-minded approach to writing, many others write out of a desire to give shape to their innermost thoughts. If they are blocked for whatever reason, they may feel frustrated and clogged up, rather like an athlete who cannot exercise.

Writing acts as a channel, giving them the opporunity to give shape to their world. When the world seems like a dark place, writing can provide much-needed illumination. Though medical or psychological intervention may be needed to bring someone to a point where they can write, I have known of cases where people have used writing to help them recover. It has worked for Keyes in the past and I am confident that with the right support, it will help her again.