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“Wellness” Products Vs. Lifestyle Choices
It’s no secret that health has always been a big business. The current health and nutrition buzzword is “wellness” and it’s been applied to everything from weight loss products and programs to preventative medicine diets, exercise regimens and more. It’s a general term which describes a general sense of physical well-being, not the mere absence of illness, but a sense of health and vibrancy as well.
But has wellness become focused too much on marketing rather than actual health? In many ways, there’s too much emphasis on “wellness” solutions as cures to what ails us, and not enough examination into why people are ailing in the first place.
The Product as the Solution
Headaches are pretty normal occurrences. For many people, the first thing that goes through their mind if they get a headache is “Where’s the Tylenol?”
This isn’t mere happenstance. Decades of marketing for pharmaceutical, health and nutritional products has had its desired effect. When people experience a symptom of almost any illness, their instinct is to reach for an external solution.
Social conditioning has trained people to think, by default, that the solution to a health problem is to take something.
“Take this pill, buy this supplement, follow this program, and you will be healthy again” is the message that’s reinforced again and again in a hundred different ways. Currently, many “wellness” solutions fit into this same paradigm. It’s the latest label for the same old dynamic.
Does this mean that the product, food or program in question is bogus? Not necessarily; some of them are very effective. But the same dynamic is at work whether the solution is snake oil or legit: Someone reaches for some external product to fix a problem with their body, rather than thinking, “What caused this to happen in the first place? What can I change?”
This situation shows no sign of slowing down. In fact, the Global Wellness Institute estimated wellness to be a 3.4 TRILLION dollar industry in 2014.
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Physical Wellness vs Mental Wellness
By many objective standards, health in the industrialized world is at an all-time high. People living in these regions have largely escaped the ravages of terrible diseases like smallpox, measles and other conditions that plagued previous generations, as well as problems like malnutrition.
But progress has brought new problems. On the physical side, obesity and related conditions like diabetes have gone up. And the modern, fast-paced lifestyle of cities (where the majority of human beings will be living in the 21st century) can be quite stressful. Chronic stress can have cumulative and debilitating effects on both our physical and mental health.
Mental illness is at record highs in many places, especially the United States. A five-year study by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) found that an incredible 45 million people reported having some degree of mental illness, with 11 million having serious conditions. What was even more disturbing was that over 60 percent of those surveyed indicated that they weren’t getting any treatment or help for their symptoms. Many felt they were too busy, and others couldn’t afford the cost of treatment. Many (31.9 percent) believed they could handle it on their own, and chose not to pursue any treatment.
Large segments of the wellness industry offer help for mental illness, and this is good news, as it provides additional help for people who might otherwise not get it. But what about the underlying causes of all these mental and physical maladies? Is it possible to look at the whole concept of wellness in a different, and possibly more effective way?
The Power of Choices
In so many cases, what you don’t do has just as much effect (if not more) on your health, both mental and physical. Yes, there are genetic predispositions, and sometimes random things do happen. But generally speaking, your health, both good and bad, begins with your choices. The first step to being healthy is to make different choices—to alter your behavior in a positive way, not to reach for pills and supplements, or sign up for some expensive program or retreat.
READ ALSO: Wellness In The Workplace Matters Video
Eat healthy. There’s hundreds of articles that will show you how. Be physically active, and do whatever you can to reduce stress in your life, as this is connected to many health problems. “Wellness” is a lifestyle choice; it’s just not something you buy. Choose to start being well today.