Emotional balance, poise, and resilience, always fleeting and elusive in a fittest survival system like ours, is now an even greater challenge given the devastation of the past 18 months. Many said it caused them to question and reframe their priorities. Giving what I call “well-being” a level playing field in all of our lives would be a good start.
Anxiety and depression in children has doubled, according to a recent study that gathered data from more than 80,000 children in Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East. Seniors, many of whom are already dealing with the loss of their social networks from their previous lives, face loneliness and isolation.
Given the real stories of the pandemic, of those who have lost their jobs and businesses, who cannot pay their rent or deal with other issues, the mental state of the United States and most countries developed is fragile at best.
The pursuit of wealth and financial security is embedded in the DNA of the free market system, including not only the United States and Western countries, but even China’s so-called “state capitalism” system. .
Without any argument, this system has succeeded beyond imagination. There are few constraints on those with ideas and a work ethic. For the vast majority of Americans without entrepreneurial aspirations, the path to a secure retirement is accessible to most through hard work, savings, and the social safety net.
The risk of collateral damage inherent in this system is a subject that Americans have rarely spoken about until recent years. The pace of life in the digital age, even pre-COVID, threatened an unprecedented mental and physical health crisis. Deaths from opioid and alcohol abuse, suicides and obesity totaled 225,000 in 2019 alone, surpassing the number of American victims of wars since World War II.
Total numbers since the start of the all-cause pandemic are not available, but deaths from opioids alone have fallen from 71,630 in 2019 to 93,331 last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The uncertainty and fear of the virus itself, insecurity of housing and food, the stress of working from home while caring for locked up children, loneliness and social isolation now add to the factors that were already contributing to our fragile mental health, creating challenges never seen before.
Many people get by by increasing the consumption of alcohol, food and various pharmaceuticals which become destructive to health and life. The damage caused by alcohol and various prescription drugs is widely reported and recognized. When it comes to binge eating, a fairly common crutch for many, the United States is now second behind Mexico in the world for obesity.
There is an open diet available to all of us that does not require any of these false wizards. I would encourage each of us to embrace the Six Pillars of Wellness in our daily lives. The mental and physical benefits are effective and long lasting.
To sleep. Sleep deprivation negates fitness, good nutrition, and pretty much everything in between. Getting enough sleep is first and foremost part of the pillars. Everyone who studies and reports on the science of sleep says that seven to eight hours a day, including naps, are needed to avoid brain fog and provide the level of alertness required for a productive day.
Nutrition: Eating well and moderately is key. Emotional eating is used by many people to deal with the stress and anxiety in their lives on their own. Obesity can be as deadly as alcohol and opioids. What’s more, recent studies show that depression can be both caused by diet and can be treated by making different food choices.
Movement: Running, cycling, walking, swimming, gardening, yoga, ballroom dancing. The movement is the most widely used and understood of the Six Pillars. Yet speaking of personal experience, fitness and endorphin, while fleetingly dealing with anxiety and stress and prolonging physical life, it falls far short of providing the emotional balance needed to overcome the challenges of life. life today.
Meditation: One of the biggest challenges in life is to calm the endless chatter in our minds and live in the moment. Regrets for the past, worries about the next day, and anxiety about our to-do lists all rob us of the peace of mind that comes with being-here-now.
Social networks: As the song says, “One is the loneliest number. Social isolation is more deadly than smoking 15 cigarettes a day, or obesity, according to a study published by Julianne Holt-Lunstad of Brigham Young University. Loneliness increases inflammation, heart disease, dementia and death rates, researchers say.
Natural therapy: Nature therapy, or as it is called in Japan, forest baths, is an important but little discussed technique for dealing with the stress and anxiety of life today. The natural chemical in the leaves has been shown to decrease cortisol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety.
Wellth is the surfboard for life’s rough seas, and these pillars represent a practical six-step regimen for surfing the waves.
Alan Steelman is a former Republican Congressman representing Dallas, management consultant and author of the book “Yoga on the Yellow Brick Road, Exiting the ASAP Lane / Calm Your Mind”. He wrote this column for The Dallas Morning News.