As I read commentary on how to reduce the cost of medical care in the United States, the thing that really seems to shout to me, is the need to focus on wellness. A focus on wellness would really cause us to examine our response to the lives that we lead. Any decision to make wellness a top priority would cause any reasonable person to take the following steps, although not necessarily all at once.
#1) Learn to avoid stress. Impossible you may say. Books are written on the topic, but a few suggestions could get one started. Learn the word "No." We as a nation are over committed from a time and energy aspect. We all need more sleep and time to be quite and reflect or pray. Worry can not be a daily habit if we want to avoid stress. We will need to find some way to use time when we are forced to wait in line or in traffic. Personally, I like to listen to audio books on various topics. Some of us would have to be more organized and plan our morning choices and duties the night before. The last suggestion is to decide ahead of time that nothing that can happen will be enough to cause us to become upset. Decide ahead to not react. All very simplistic I know.
#2) Make a commitment to exercise at least 3 times weekly for 30 minutes. This exercise can be walking, dancing, weight training, gardening, or many other activities. Ideally, we will want to have several ways to exercise so that we do not strain any areas of our bodies.
#3) We cannot mention wellness without discussing what goes into our bodies, that would be via the mouth. We are what we eat. Too many times we are chemically changed fats, carbohydrates and who knows what else. I have come to believe that we would all do better to minimize meats, and eat only organically grown fruits and vegetables. However, belief has not yet become practice. Surely the toxic chemicals used to maximize crop yield are not good for us. Think of the changes these have caused in the frogs and fish. Many hormones and probably these toxins are stored in the fatty tissues, something that on average the American population has way too much of. The animals we eat are treated with hormones to make them larger and fatter, no wonder that hormonally mediated cancers are more prevalent, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.
#4) Anyone who is still smoking will need to stop if they want to embrace wellness. Problem is that most who want to stop, find it a very, very difficult thing to do. Others tell me that they enjoy smoking so much that they really do not want to stop. Surely they will not be the one to get emphysema or lung cancer, or so they think!
#5) The topic of drinking alcohol must also be addressed. On the positive side, substances found in wine have been found to act a anti-oxidants. These seem to help prevent heart disease. However, to my knowledge, that is the only positive. Can you tell here that I am not a fan of the spirits. Ethanol (Yes, that is what you drink, not just add to gasoline.), is metabolized as a sugar and has toxic effects on the liver, brain, and in elevated levels, also the heart. Also in elevated levels, this substance alters one's level of consciousness. Some studies do suggest that drinking in moderation does have healthful effects. So the word here is moderation.
#6) Other bad habits are out there: street drugs, cocaine, methamphetamines, and even prescribed drugs. We know that food, tobacco, alcohol, and even exercise can become an addiction. The healthy person is not controlled by any bad habits, but rather controls them. Some of us need help in those areas. I have personally had to seek help in losing weight and am very thankful that it was not needed for other areas. Many in our culture are not that fortunate, but help is available.
All this moralistic writing is great, but the larger question is how do we convince, inspire, or help our population embrace these ideas. Most of us know what we need to do, but we are not actually practicing what we know. How can we then either criticize or help anyone else? Somehow, we need to make healthy living the normal way to live, rather than a lifestyle for the few. Once there have been several generations of healthy living, the need to treat the diseases that are our present killers should be vastly decreased. This may sound like an unattainable dream. But if we do not begin to dream and envision healthier lives and a healthier planet, the negative, ill effects will continue. I do not want to let that occur.