I once heard Oprah say, “are we purveyors of health or conveyors of disease?” and thought, of course, I couldn’t have said it any better. I mean, that is brilliant Oprah. Yet, this is the question for you today: are you spending more on your health insurance than you are on your wellness? Are you spending more on the “fix” rather than investing in the prevention of illness?
Welcome to the “system” that rewards fixing illness over illness prevention, also known as wellness.
As a country, the good news is our (mostly corporate and government organizations) expenditures on stress management programs, and gyms have increased, yet so have the illnesses that are killing us like: heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, and others.
Welcome to the system that leads us to tension and confusion over financial decisions around our wellness.
Over the course of the next month, I am excited to share almost 20 years of lessons I’ve learned about the value of wellness. My colleagues at Alexandria Wellness have appealed to me that it is time to write. It is time, they believe, to share a perspective of a wellness coach who has seen virtually every trend in the marketplace and watched hundreds of individuals toil away at those trends spending dollars for happiness.
I’m hoping this series will help you develop your own definition of wellness and how you can even “buck the system” in a way. We will journey through what we value and, therefore, what we invest our dollars in. My hope is not necessarily that you spend more, yet that you develop your own personal value system that leads you to make financial decisions, including those related to wellness.
I have heard every story about how wellness programs and strategies, like fitness and nutrition programs, can cost too much. Clients bemoan the cost of Physical Therapy or massage, nutritious home delivery meals, and high-end organic food, and of course, fitness.
Just like my calendar management program, I teach in my corporate wellness program, it is wise to consider your time as a value like you do money. If you value your basket weaving activities, yet they aren’t prominent on be your calendar, it’s a good idea to re-frame what you deeply value so much that you spend your time. Carl Sandburg once said, “Time is the most valuable coin in your life.”
I hope you begin to think deeply, clearly, and without reservation about your wellness, how much you value it and where it lands in your daily decisions. These questions may ultimately lead you to the decision for your expenditures on wellness that also reflects your value.
As a country, we spend 95 percent of our health care costs on medical illnesses while we spend five percent on our wellness, which can go a long way to preventing illness.
We don’t think twice, nor should we, about making informed decisions about our health insurance. Investing in a health plan that works for you and your family is one of our wisest investments. Having more experience than I’d like with loved ones suffering with illness, it is a gift that we live in a country where we value top medical education and care.
Yet, do we apply the same scrutiny to our wellness expenditures like mindfulness practices, nutrition, and meal planning, fitness, sleep coaches, and other mind-body experiences to help you lead an authentically beautiful life?
A holistic approach to wellness, incorporating mind and body, can go a long way in preventing doctor’s visits. Yet, we don’t seem to question the cost of a top-notch physician, so why would we hesitate when shopping for a stress management program?
Some of the statistics below may change the way you consider your wellness expenditures:
Getting sleep, daily exercise, stress management practices, fueling ourselves with nutrient-dense foods, maintaining a waistline half of your height in centimeters or less, and practicing mindfulness has proven time and time to prevent most fatal diseases. Maybe these statistics will help convince you?
When we don’t practice the above, like consistently getting 7-7.5 hours of sleep nightly, it can lead to the following:
- increased risk of Alzheimer’s (which starts in your brain decades earlier than its obvious symptoms and it is expected to triple in the next 25 years)
- increased risk of heart disease (in 2018, 30 million Americans were diagnosed with heart disease. Every 40 seconds in America, someone experiences a heart attack)
- hinders the body’s immune response
- increased risk of stroke (1 of every 20 deaths in the U.S. are a stroke)
- leads to weight gain (2/3 of Americans are overweight and one-third is obese)
- is associated with a 40 percent increase over others in risk of breast cancer
- can lead to depression (the most expensive medical illness in our country affecting 50 million Americans)
- and much more.
- 7 percent of all medications prescribed in the U.S. are for anxiety and depression
- Women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer. Each drink increases the chances by 10 percent
- 4-7 hours of exercise weekly has been proven to reduce breast cancer
In 2018, The average American spends $155 per month on their health and fitness, and $455 for an individual, and $1,152 for family health insurance per month.
There is good news. Globally, individuals are investing more in their stress management. Many programs take place at the workplace. However, if an individual wanted to invest in one, it would be out of pocket, and insurance would not cover it. Most insurance plans don’t cover at-home healthy meal delivery, fitness outside of the workplace, mindfulness training, massage, and “maintenance” (no injury) physical therapy.
If you knew you could reduce your risk of future illness and injury by investing in a wellness practice now, how much would you be willing to spend?
The system is broken. Yet, you have the power to put your health and wellness first. It’s never too late to start!
Stay tuned for part two next week, where we do a deep dive into whether your spending habits match your values. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss how I can help you or your team develop your very own wellness practice.