We hear a lot about wellness today and for good reason. Americans spend $2 trillion every year on treating disease and obesity has reached epidemic proportions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one-third of the U.S. population is obese; and as this number continues to increase, so too will chronic illnesses and healthcare costs.
Gallup recently reported that 86 percent of full-time employees in the U.S. are above normal weight or have at least one chronic medical condition. Compared to healthy workers, these employees are absent an estimated 450 million extra days each year costing at least $153 billion in lost productivity.
Employers are taking note. According to the Wellness Councils of America, more than 80 percent of U.S. businesses with at least 50 employees participate in a health-promotion program. In the pursuit of chasing wellness to control healthcare costs, I think it’s important to define what constitutes wellness.
Wellness pioneer, Donald Ardell, Ph.D in his book, High Level Wellness, states “Wellness is first and foremost a choice to assume responsibility for the quality of your life.” Once you make the conscious decision to choose a healthy lifestyle you can adopt a wellness mindset.
Wellness is a mindset – a mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations. No matter what life circumstances you are experiencing, you choose how to react to them, how to live through them, and which resources to choose to support a healthy state of being. It’s a personal choice that must come from inside and must be intrinsically motivated and supported with education.
Employers are increasingly joining the wellness train and implementing wellness programs at their workplaces. There is plenty of research now telling us that savings are a result of prevention, but I think the majority of organizations also understand the critical importance of healthy employees in maintaining a happy, productive and profitable organization. It isn’t just about controlling healthcare costs, it’s about supporting and maintaining a culture of health which inspires creativity and productivity, fosters better communication, and supports people in the pursuit of their purpose. Imagine how successful organizations would be if the majority of their employees possess a wellness mindset.
Ralpho Waldo Emerson stated, “The first wealth is health”. That statement is applicable to individuals as well as corporations.
The growing acknowledgement that a company is only as healthy as its employees is encouraging. I applaud any efforts to promote health in the workplace, yet I think it is critical to reinforce the intrinsic motivators more than the extrinsic ones to achieve the wellness mindset. Reinforcing that people must assume personal responsibility for their wellness and ensuring they are empowered with the knowledge to make choices that lead to healthier lives. Educated choices make the best choices.
Providing health education seminars in the community and workplace is an effective platform to empower individuals with the knowledge that allows them to make healthier choices. The most significant way to achieve a wellness mindset is to educate people on health and prevention.
Preventable illness makes up approximately 80% of illnesses and 90% of all health care costs, which means education is key to reducing long-term health care and disease management costs for all of us, considerably.
Integrative healthcare practitioners are the perfect resource to support a state of well being through education and effective treatments. They provide the information, awareness and therapies people need to support healthier choices. Integrative medical practitioners blend conventional medical practices and complementary wellness care that empowers individuals to take control of their own health and recommend therapies that will help them achieve their wellness mindset and improve the quality of their life. They are powerful motivators who look at the whole picture – mind, body and spirit.
Wellness is the choice to assume the responsibility for your quality of life, so to achieve a wellness mindset you must make mindful, educated choices that support your desired life. It’s time to get educated.