Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Underground Wellness

Hmmm . . .  underground? Wellness? What can it possibly mean? Here’s what.

We all hear a lot about wellness, unless we’re living under a rock (as in underground). The word wellness is so over-used, it’s hard to decide exactly what it encompasses, and what it doesn’t. It’s hard to decide where it belongs, and doesn’t. At work? In the community? At school? In your own home? Who’s in charge here?  You are. At least, you should be.

No doubt you’ve probably heard about the importance of  creating a Culture of Wellness. “Culture” is key to this idea of underground wellness because culture is defined as the collection of shared belief systems and habits of a particular group.

Think of culture as an underground river, running through our lives and relationships, sending us the very messages that shape our perceptions, judgments, and our own ideas of self and others.

We all belong to and are part of a culture and it is as natural as the blood running through our bodies. It’s what makes each of us who we are. It influences us in just about every way imaginable, and actually can define how we view right and wrong, good or bad, fun or boring—in essence, who we are . Culture contributes to the way we dress, the food we eat, and the people we work with and spend time with. It divides and joins us. It can be the bond between us, or the wedge that drives us apart.

To drive the point home, culture is that binding force that brings us and ties us together, providing a sense of purpose and belonging.

Now, an underground culture is a sort of counter-culture, a subculture whose values and norms of behavior deviate from those of mainstream society. Believe it or not, wellness has become an underground culture. Current estimates point out that only 1 in 7 U.S. workers is of normal weight without a chronic illness, and that 67 percent of our society is overweight or obese. About 20 percent of us still smoke. Up to 85 percent of us feel an increasing degree of stress. And, it’s estimated that by 2020, 50 percent of the population will have type 2 diabetes.

So where is this Culture of Wellness we keep hearing about? I’d have to say, it’s gone underground . . . but if we each take the initiative, we can bring wellness back to the mainstream. We really can create that Culture of Wellness—if we decide wellness will begin to shape our lives, be a part of who we decide to be and who we are. What do you think?

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