January 5, 2004

Happy New Year.

Self help books have been big sellers for years. Now it seems that more and more are being marketed to teens. Dr. Phil wrote a book, and his son wrote a similar one for teens. Another son wrote: "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens", based on his father's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", but that is only the beginning...

Search for "self help" books at, and you will get 49,433 results.

Search for "'self help' and teen" books, and you will get 7,827 results.

Help yourself. Take responsibility for your life. That is the trend.

"Along with your physical changes, you are also becoming more independent. You are starting to make more choices about your life. You are relying less on your parents and more on yourself and your friends when making decisions. Some of the biggest choices that you face are those about your health....Now is the time to take charge of your health by eating better and being more physically active. Even small changes will help you look and feel your best!"

You've decided that you want to start the year off right. You want to make some changes and improve your life. You want to take responsibility. Where do you start? If you are looking to books or websites for help, does it still count as self help?

Realizing that you can't do it all on your own is part of helping yourself, but before you look for guidance, be sure that you are looking to a trustworthy source.

Whether you are looking for: "Five Ways to Heal a Broken Heart"
"If you feel like your heart has broken, you're not alone...."

Or you could "really use some advice on how to de-stress both your body and your mind? Knowing how to deal can be half the battle!"

Have a temper?

"One healthy way to deal with your anger (one that works great with parents in particular) is the cool down approach. Here it is in four easy steps..."

While the sites listed above are trustworthy and reputable, they may not be just right for you. "Four easy steps" may work for someone else, but it may take you eight difficult steps to make the same progress. If you are dealing with a major problem that is seriously affecting your life to the point where you know you need help, three pages of online information can only be a start...

We often think of self help as getting our behaviors and attitudes on the right track, but what about medical information? With more and more medical information available online, can you get what you need without ever visiting a doctor? You can even "Search by Symptom" to see what you might have...

The website, is also one that you can depend on for reputable information. One indicator that a site is reputable is that if your symptoms match those that might be cause for concern, it will tell you to see your doctor.

To help yourself, it helps to know what you're talking about.
"Learning to Help Yourself
You may be able to tackle many school problems on your own....With some problems, you may need to ask for help."

Part of taking responsibility for your life, and for improving your life, is realizing that you might not know how to do everything yourself. That is where some assistance from self help books and websites can be useful, but before you start to follow someone else, make sure that they know more than you do, and they are worth trusting. Also, know that you don't have to do it all alone.

Questions of the Week:
When can self help books and online information be a good resource? How do you determine which sources to trust, and which sources are untrustworthy? How do you know which resources are right for you? How do you decide when to seek help from other people, not just books or websites? How do you decide when you need to consult a doctor or other professional specialist?

Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.

Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum

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