By Dr. Stan Headley, natural health consultant for Cypress Pharmacy
The pandemic has done more to change how we think of wellness than we ever could have imagined.
As we recognize National Wellness Month, it’s clear that COVID, quarantine, vaccinations and more than a year of uncertainty have brought a bright spotlight to the importance of staying healthy, ultimately shifting how we view health and health care. In fact, almost 60% of Americans say they are more focused on their health and wellness since the pandemic started.
This aligns with the World Health Organization’s definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” as an important concept, particularly now.
Several wellness-related trends have emerged or have been reaffirmed throughout the pandemic:
- The power of human connection. When life went virtual, we often had little choice but to embrace the idea. However, we are seeing the negative impact of virtual support groups on the mentally ill, isolation of seniors from their families and communities and the impact of virtual school on the mental health of children. Research shows that a good social support network has numerous physical and mental health benefits.
- The recognition that helping others is a wonderful way to find your own happiness. Helping others can reduce stress and improve mood, particularly when you are feeling powerless. An attitude of gratitude relaxes communication between various regions of the brain associated with anxiety. The more you focus on the good, the more good you may be able to find.
- The importance of digital detox. Disconnecting from technology allows us to be in the moment, pursue social interactions and focus on ourselves and others.
- The priority of mental and emotional well-being. With a more proactive and preventative approach to mental health, consumers are seeking to manage their mental health as well as physical health. This includes an increasing emphasis on quality sleep to manage anxiety and stress.
So, what can we do to keep this positive trend of preventative health for overall wellness? The tips are not new, even if the focus may be:
- Eat a health-focused diet. Nearly 40% of Americans report overeating or eating unhealthy foods because of stress. Instead, follow a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruit, lean meat, fish and whole grains.
- Get quality sleep. During sleep, our immune systems release proteins called cytokines, which help fight infectious diseases and reduce risk of obesity diabetes, heart and cardiovascular diseases.
- Stay fit. Regular exercise offers a host of physical health benefits, including strengthening the heart and improving circulation. Beyond this, exercise also helps our bodies release feel-good endorphins, which can result in improved mental well-being.
- Balance nutrition. Lack of essential nutrients can lead to numerous health concerns. The CDC says over 95% of the population has serious nutritional deficiencies. Blood testing can help evaluate nutrient levels and determine when the nutritional support of vitamins and supplements may be advantageous.
- Consider CBD. Derived from the hemp plant, CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system. Cell receptors are located throughout our bodies, and CBD will bind to the brain receptors responsible for regulating anxiety, appetite/hunger, depression, immune function, memory, mood, motor control, pain, pleasure and reward, reproduction and fertility, sleep and temperature and more.
- Focus on self. Self-focused activities such as meditating, pursuing your passions or learning something new can help bring joy and create greater balance in your life. Research suggests self-care helps foster resilience, lengthens life and helps manage stress.
- Build connections. According to the Mayo Clinic, adults with strong social support have a reduced risk of many significant health problems, including depression, high blood pressure and an unhealthy body mass index (BMI). Studies have even found that older adults with a rich social life are likely to live longer than their peers with fewer connections.
As a natural health advocate, I believe that lifestyle choices are the most effective way to impact well-being. Getting adequate sleep, drinking plenty of water, reducing alcohol intake and stress and not smoking will help keep the body in balance. Lifestyle measures including a healthy diet, exercise and regular health checks for chronic conditions are critical.
If we learned anything during the pandemic, health and wellness are a lifetime pursuit worth focusing on all year long.