Wellness is a concept that a decade ago wasn’t even a word you could find in a dictionary, and yet today wellness is rapidly becoming the next trillion dollar industry in North America. For some, wellness is “being fit” through exercise, for others it may mean just staying out of the hospital, and for others it means being very careful of what they eat or taking a daily multivitamin.
Wellness represents a continuum like a sliding scale with optimal health on one end and death on the other. How well someone is doing physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally combines to create each person’s degree of wellness and therefore quality of life.
DePaul University describe Wellness as: “Wellness is an interactive process of becoming aware of and practicing healthy choices to create a more successful and balanced lifestyle. Wellness is fundamentally about ‘balance’ or the ability to create balance in one’s life.
America, in the last 50 plus years, has become a society which spends more than any other country on our Health Care system. We have slipped in our health ranking, according to the World Health Organization, to a level behind even some third world countries and are rated #33. We are spending more and getting less. Why is that?
One of the reasons is connected to our concept of health and wellness. In the last part of the 20th century we have developed an impressive “health care system”. In fact, it has become a “disease care system”, not a health care system. As more and more companies developed insurance programs to help their employees, fewer and fewer people felt responsible for their health.
There are many reasons why we feel powerless over our health. Ever hear anyone say, “I have insurance. That will take care of me.” “They can fix just about anything with drugs or surgery”? Our paradigm is that when we get sick our health care system will be able to “fix” us. In fact, it is the best in the world at patching us back up after accidents, and can do amazing wonders with acute crisis. However, with the long term chronic conditions, as Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard trained MD, says in his book, Health and Healing, our health care system, ”gives lip service to the concept of preventive medicine, for practical purposes they are unable to prevent most of the diseases that disable and kill people today.” In our medical health care system prevention is mainly about early detection.
The result of our health insurance example is that we have become less and less responsible for our personal wellness. We believe our health care system will take care of us. We have developed the concept that we can be fixed, just like our car, if we can get to the “health garage”! Our focus has been on having insurance to cover the fixing. In fact, our bodies heal themselves if given the right environment. We cannot be fixed. We must heal. Anything less than healing is a temporary bandage. Wellness prevention is about providing your body with the right environment so it can heal itself daily.
Consider that a frog dropped into a pot of boiling water will jump out immediately. However, if you take that same frog and put it into a pot of regular water, and then turn a low flame on under it, the frog will relax with the warming water and end up dying from being boiled. Many Americans have let their arteries clog, fat accumulate and toxins degrade the best part of them until they are faced with bypass surgery, obesity, intense pain and ultimately death. Many people are not active in the process of finding the balance of Wellness, and feel that it is too complicated or too costly. Neither of which is true. In our modern lifestyles we end up losing some freedoms from our health challenges, and our body system becomes perpetually out of balance.
Back when the nearest doctor was 50 long miles away, when we all were closer to our food sources, when our food, water, air, earth, and sun was less toxic, and we had no insurance, we were more aware of our responsibility to be active in our health. Because our diseases and acute care were potentially more deadly, we knew we had to take preventative steps and rely less on others.
Wellness is still a vague concept for many people, and for many it is only ‘non-sickness’. It is, however, much more than that and is still being defined. It certainly has become a booming industry. Paul Zane Pilzer, an economist, is predicting that by 2010 we will be spending $1 trillion a year on our Wellness. In that same time our health care (read disease care) system will cost us over $2 trillion a year and it is predicted to double by 2012.
This is the first of a series of articles about wellness and the ‘state of the art’ in creating a wellness environment in your home, office, or work place. In Dunn County 72 percent of the businesses have identified health care costs as the #1 most significant issue in a recent Menomonie Chamber of Commerce survey. What are the elements of wellness we all can practice? What can we do now? We will look at elements of a healthy lifestyle. These include making conscious choices about the water we drink, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and what kind of healing environment we chose.
Wellness homes and environments are available to everyone. It is a choice we can and do make daily.
Next issue will focus on one of the most fundamental and critical elements of www.balancedlivingtoday.com