Wellness…what does that even mean anyway?
Lately it’s all about working on my business. Several months ago I came up with a title for myself Integrative Wellness Therapist. What the heck is that you want to know and what doea it have to do with therapy? I chose this title because to me it spoke of overall health in regards to healing (which is typically what brings people into therapy.) In mind/body practices the emotional body is intertwined with the physical body. In my post What is the Point of Eating Healthy… I talked about wellness as being related to the quality of our life. It may or may not have to do with longevity. Therein lies why the concept of wellness is foreign in our culture. Generally our concept of what it means to be well is not having to go to the doctor. This typically means an absence of crisis oriented symptoms. But does the absence of such crisis really mean we are well? If not then how do we know if we are well? Yup some more deeeeeep thoughts. Previously I was functioning regularly with distressing symptoms which while distressing on the one hand, I kept going on the other. I was still functioning in a way that the outer world may have not known any different. I went to the gym, a “seasoned” person in my job, had friends, was social, had relationships, the whole gamut. I went to the doctor in the winter for “sinus infections” but who doesn’t right? Little did I knew that was code for “food allergies.” But no one talked to me about that and I certainly had no concept of such a thing. For the most part I carried on with my life in some version of being type A and kept on keeping on. Sound familiar? I imagine on some level it probably does. A WHOLE LOT of people do not exactly feel well but they fell well enough to keep on going. That is until they don’t.
With my new life change, I have been meeting new people all over and I am finding myself often in discussions around wellness. I hear all the time “Oh I eat pretty healthy, my doctor says I am doing fine, I try to exercise regularly, etc.” Yup that was me. I always THOUGHT I was eating healthy and taking care of myself but why was I so sick often? I mean if your doctor says your doing good, isn’t that a gold star? And really if your figuring we are all going to die someday why would you question the doc? Well the fact not fiction story is our health care system treats illness. Why would you ever pay co pays if you were well? You go when you are feeling poorly and you hope the doctor has a magic potion to take it all away. Who doesn’t want to be taken care of?? NOONE! But doctors are taught in med school all about illness, disease and how to treat it mostly with medications, surgery or other treatments. They are not trained to prevent disease. They know some information about what could help prevent illness from returning again. People with blocked arteries need to exercise and shift diet to decrease saturated fat thereby decreasing plaque and so on. In this article in the September, 2010 article in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/16/health/16chen.html?_r=0 it details that doctors get at most 25 hours of training in nutrition throughout their medical career. Wow, crazy right? So if they don’t know then how the hell are we supposed to, right? They do a great job of treating but what about prevention?
I think of wellness as being something that helps a person live their fullest life possible. It takes into consideration the physical, emotional, environmental, nutritional and spiritual factors that lead to a healthy life. A variety of symptoms that people “function” with are related to diet and lifestyle. Again we have no idea what feeling well feels like if we have never felt it. Symptoms like acne or breakouts, dry skin, irritability, mood swings, depression, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, sleep disturbance, foggy brain, congestion, lethargy or low energy, and a variety of other things are often caused by an imbalance in the gut. This imbalance could be partially due to food allergies or sugar. The health of your gut is directly connected to your mental and physical health. These are the things none of us are told growing up. It was never explained to my in my 20’s that my skin problems were due to digestion. Today my skin, eyes, teeth, hair glow after all the work I have done on my health. Generally I go to the doctor once a year. Regularly I see my acupuncturist. I go whether I have symptoms to treat or not as there is always something to treat. Learning about the integration of Chinese medicine and nutrition has been fascinating. Chinese medicine actually IS about prevention. The focus is preventing illness rather than waiting for it to happen. There is is PREVENTION! That’s the ticket! We can work towards being well small ways every day. Don’t drink much water, well add a glass into your diet. Your gut will love you and your skin will too. Don’t exercise much? Well add just 30 minutes a few days a week of any form of exercise. Wellness is about reaching your full potential but it is not a race. Life is a journey with no end point. You start where you are at and move forward from there. You may find that you slip back to old behaviors but as you continue to shift you will see them as teachers that something inside needs some lovin.
We become well through love, not through harsh judgement. Remember it’s all about integration so anything you do to become healthier in one area of your life will help shift the others as well.
Be well and enjoy the ride!
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