By: J.A., Writer for Hope Instilled
Wellness is a HUGE part of my life, and I would consider myself an expert on the topic because I read about different aspects of it every day. I could literally spend a whole day talking to you about wellness.
Why is Wellness important?
Because chronic illness is growing, and no one is excluded from getting sick. For more on that view my blog: The Gaps in Our Healthcare (Which Affects Everyone)
“Wellness” what does it mean?
It could quite possibly mean something different for all of us. But, the term wellness is defined as “the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.” I also love this definition from UC Davis “Wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. Wellness is more than being free from illness, it is a dynamic process of change and growth.” Also, from The World Health Organization, “…a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Think about those definitions for a moment.
Do you think you are achieving wellness? Do the definitions above match your way of thinking and lifestyle?
Do you think about your health in terms of physical, mental, and social well-being?
I used to think wellness meant eating healthy, working out, trying to get enough sleep at night, and that was about it. And I did these things to help with my current health, not with my future health. I wasn’t even concerned about my future health like I am today. And I want to say there are a lot of people out there who either have that same wellness perspective or just some generally flawed perspectives on wellness and healthcare.
This can be simply due to a lack of knowledge, just following the ways of society, possibly carelessness, or simply being unwilling to make changes.
Some people take better care of their cars than they do their own bodies. They change the oil when it reaches a certain mileage and gets regular car washes to keep it from rusting, and so on. This is all to improve the longevity of the car (the health of the car long-term).
Then when it comes to taking care of their bodies, many people don’t think about the long-term effects of being under so much stress from work or family responsibilities, the toxic chemical cleaners they are using, or the long-term consequences of getting only 5 hours of sleep every night. I have read studies on all these things, and they do in fact have long-term consequences on people’s health. Even if short-term the person is still getting by just fine. These things can be ingredients to chronic illness, and the right recipe could stir up a lot of trouble.
This too can be simply due to a lack of knowledge, just following the ways of society, possibly carelessness, or simply being unwilling to make changes. (I can say the first two reasons were true at one point for me).
Many people don’t know those minor health issues that they deal with on a regular basis are symptoms, meaning signs that something needs to change.
Anything from regular or ongoing migraines, constipation, fatigue, allergies, to sleep issues, difficulties focusing, back pain, can be (not always) signs of a greater more serious illness developing. Having multiple ongoing symptoms is not a good sign.
Health issues like back pain could escalate and turn into a more serious issue, or at the very least take longer to improve the longer the issue is ignored.
Migraines can be a sign that part of the body is functionally optimally, and could continue to escalate over time turning into a serious health issue. So in conclusion, the problem with ignoring these health issues is they may morph into something else, become even more serious, and can take the length of time you had the problems to reverse them.
I remember being told as a kid that if I got a headache, a cold, stomach pain, etc. the answer was always to take a pill, take some medicine. The answer was never to try this essential oil for the headache, eat some superfoods, drink this veggie/fruit smoothie, try these herbs. And for an acute illness or short-term health issue taking a pill was not necessarily a bad choice. It just somehow turned into a perspective of anything that happens to me I can take a pill to fix it. If I don’t have pills good enough at home I can go to the doctor and they will prescribe me some.
Then, I got chronically sick and the doctors had no magical pill to fix me to take away the pain and make it so it disappeared completely. An alternative perspective would have been growing up thinking everything I eat or drink is either making me healthier or sicker. The amount of sleep I get, the stress, the amount of water I drink all adds to me getting sick or subtracting from it (whether acute or chronic). And it will take a lot more time, money, and/or energy to reverse it, then it will prevent it. Of course, that would need to be coupled with an understanding of how to actually make healthy food choices. Plus, how to relieve/prevent stress, because I was a very stressed out person a good chunk of my life and didn’t know how to handle it.
The problem with a quick fix is it doesn’t address the underlying problem of what caused the illness or pain in the first place. Therefore, people can’t get well or make healthier choices to prevent illness in the future.
Many western medicine doctors will say there is no solution for that chronic illness and often times that isn’t true. In addition, people are told to get surgery, when sometimes there are other, safer alternatives, that cost less. Many doctors will also fail to give wellness advice, and then some people are left following the same destructive habits that made them sick in the first place (being exposed to the toxins, consuming lots of processed foods, stressing, not doing enough in terms of self-care). However, there are actually other options: naturopaths, chiropractors, and osteopaths, and so on… (who focus on fixing root problems instead of covering them up). Often better suited to deal with ongoing health issues. I won’t go into any more details on this, because you can read about them in my last blog: The Gaps in Our Healthcare (Which Affects Everyone).
If you would like to read more about the problems with the U.S. healthcare system, you might want to check out the book “UNDOCTORED Why Health care has failed you and how you can become smarter than your doctor.” By: William Davis, MD.
Every single day whether they are conscious or unconscious decisions, you are making choices that affect your health.
Every single day you make a certain number of choices, some days more than others, that affect your health. It is impossible to not make some unhealthy choices, but it is very possible to be more conscious of all the choices. Many people don’t recognize the impact of the choices they make, because the problems from so many unhealthy choices sometimes don’t show up till years later or maybe even a decade later. And even then, many people don’t always figure out what unhealthy choices caused their sickness. The body is amazing and can handle a lot of toxins and other things. However, there is a tipping point where the body becomes too overwhelmed, and symptoms may start to arise from too many unhealthy choices.
Health is at the top of my priority list. So almost every day, I think about how much exercise I will get, what I should eat in the morning and for lunch based on my dinner, or what I should plan for dinner based on how healthy my lunch was. I plan out my sleep, I often count the number of hours I need to sleep. I remind myself constantly of my posture while I’m sitting. I have also trained myself to be a more positive thinker, and how not to let stress overtake me. If stress does consume me, I have strategies in place to relieve it in an efficient and healthy way.
Health should be at the top of everyone’s priority list. I, unfortunately, had to learn this the hard way. So when I was at my lowest points, there was not a single thing on earth I could think of to make me happier: money, friends, family, fame, a trip, or a bigger house. Nothing was going to make me happier than my pain vanishing for good. If you don’t have good health, everything else in your life starts to crumble, nothing else tends to matter.
You can always work on being healthier whether it is being more conscious of decisions, changing up your diet, adding in more self-care, or training your brain to think differently. With me, I’m always working on cutting out more toxins from my life, along with making small adjustments to other healthy habits.
People believe the healthcare system is actually helpful. They think the FDA is protecting us from everything extremely harmful, or what the food industry says in commercials or on labels is actually accurate.
As I mentioned earlier, people believe the health care system has their best interests in mind. This simply isn’t true, it’s all about profits. People rely too heavily on Western Medical Doctors to “quick fix” whatever goes wrong.
People also believe the FDA is actually protecting us from everything extremely harmful to our bodies. When in America, we have more dangerous toxins allowed in our food and products than basically any other country. And they aren’t just slightly harmful, they are a big contributing factor to more and more people becoming chronically ill.
Then, there is way too much trust in the food industry. Many foods are being marketed as healthy choices, which simply are not. Like cereals for heart health and lowering cholesterol, when basically no cereal is a healthy choice. Then, things marketed as “sugar-free” are often replaced with harmful chemicals instead. You can read more on this in my blog How to Lessen Your Exposure to Toxins (Part 2: Foods).
Some people believe what they hear without further research, and why wouldn’t they? Who goes around thinking everything they hear is a big old lie and everything is corrupt? The answer is smart people. Of course, all us smart people seem crazy when we start talking about how everything is a lie, the healthcare system is corrupt, the food industry is lying, the FDA isn’t helping you! Yeah, we sound like crazy people without sharing all the facts. And I used to blindly believe in our healthcare systems, the FDA, and the food industry so I know exactly what it means to be on that side of things. Of course not knowing doesn’t make you dumb, just uninformed. It’s what you do with the information once you learn it that counts.
You have to realize you are the one in control of your health, not anyone else. So you shouldn’t rely on anyone doctor, person, or source for information. Do your own research. Take charge if you don’t agree with something a doctor says or does. You can read more of my thoughts on this in my blog: Taking Control Over Our Health (Not relying on one doctor’s advice).
It is Hard to Know What Health Advice to Follow
There is so much deceiving and inaccurate information out there, it is not surprising so many people have ongoing illnesses. It is hard to know what health advice to listen to and where to go for the facts. The way I see it, it’s like building a puzzle. You have to figure out what pieces make sense based on what other pieces you know are the correct pieces. Like we know for a fact that food allergies have increased in the last decade, so it makes sense that there would be something wrong with the food or us.
If our bodies can’t handle as much gluten, it could mean our bodies are too toxic already. The same reasoning, if it is something wrong with the food, it is because something is being added, or the way it is being made is making it more toxic. Both of these are correct. There are articles and studies to support them. What other answer makes sense? Therefore, if that makes sense, then it makes sense other toxins would affect our health too.
Figuring out what foods and products are actually healthy or less toxic is difficult, it requires some research and critical thinking. I provide some information in my blog on healthy eating and lessening toxic exposures: Reality of our Toxic World, which is linked to my two other blogs on How to Lessen Exposure to Toxins.
I read wellness articles ALL the time so I can tell you there is a ton of different information out there on the different things you should be doing to achieve wellness. It is almost overwhelming, you can’t follow all the wellness advice out there, because literally, wellness will become your life. So instead I’m going to provide categories of what I see as the most important areas of wellness I have learned from my life experience and reading hundreds and hundreds of articles.