02/02/2015 05:52 EST | Updated 04/04/2015 05:59 EDT

Wellness Is About More Than Health

Outdoors in the city in spring. An urban lifestyle. A man looking up at a high wall covered in climbing plants and foliage.
Outdoors in the city in spring. An urban lifestyle. A man looking up at a high wall covered in climbing plants and foliage.

Our world is more toxic than ever -- polluted with neurotoxic and carcinogenic pesticides; hormone disrupting perfumes and packaging additives; toxins in house cleaning supplies, cosmetics, paints, and even in the finishing sprays to keep new clothing smooth and the coating on furniture to make it non-flammable.

We're also more stressed than ever. Insomnia is a serious problem; anxiety and depression affect a considerable proportion of the population. Aggression is noticeable in the general level of rudeness everywhere; in the high rate of school and on-line bullying; in the wild way that people drive and even in how they interact on public transit.

We're more driven to consume than ever before, and we're more in debt than ever, compulsively trying to fill the void within us through the purchase of goods and services that inevitably fail to do the trick.

Obesity is an epidemic, yet malnutrition is prevalent in those living in wealthy nations, not because of a lack of food but because of years of bad food choices.

In 2015, it's more important than ever to make wellness a priority.

We're overweight, undernourished, overtired, unhappy, irritable and continually swimming in a sea of toxic substances.

Although many of us go to the gym and eat our quinoa and kale, more are sedentary, watching hours of mindless TV every day; for every daily runner, there are many more who spend each evening in front of the computer, binge-watching popular shows, shopping for unnecessary items or surfing for porn.

Even those of us who exercise eat far too much sugar, high fructose corn syrup, deep fried and processed foods. For every person who chooses a local, organic, mostly plant-based diet, there are many more who load their grocery carts with cans and jars and packages whose labels enumerate long lists of disagreeable chemicals.

As I mentioned in a previous post about consciousness, now would be a good time for us to wake up and begin to question our basic lifestyle and wellness choices. How are we living our lives and to what are we exposing our bodies and minds?

Years ago, I realized that as a sensitive person, if I watched a disturbing TV program or movie, nightmares would invariably follow, so I chose to stop exposing myself to this type of mind pollution.

I've also had to advise some of my patients over the years to stop reading articles or books on topics that were traumatizing them. We need to understand the destructive effects of what we read or view; not because of some misguided moral sense but because certain types of images are reactivating earlier traumas and causing us emotional disorders. (Porn, in particular, is responsible for a multitude of problems in men who watch it excessively.)

There's such a huge toxin load that we ingest or are exposed to every day. I set about to minimize this load by using a non-toxic dry-cleaner; my household and personal products are non-toxic and I eat organic as much as possible.

I constantly hear people complaining about sleep disorders. It's not surprising, given how over-stimulated we are with all the media we ingest every evening. I try to give myself at least an hour every evening before bed without any on-line or TV viewing, and I always read a bit to relax before going to sleep.

We all need to examine our before-bed habits and decide whether our exposure to stimulating media or bright lights from e-readers are interfering with our ability to get a good night of restful sleep.

I encounter a lot of people who've been walking around for years with undiagnosed and untreated anxiety and depression. They're sad, irritable, distracted; they struggle with performing at their jobs or at school; they have frequent conflicts with friends, family, even co-workers. Once these individuals are properly diagnosed and treated, their lives improve in so many ways.

Wellness isn't simply about getting enough exercise, eating our greens and ensuring that we have enough good-quality sleep.

Wellness is also about paying attention to all the other things that constitute well-being: it's considering the toxins we're being exposed to every day; making conscious choices about the media we ingest; thinking about our habits of consuming things that never really satisfy us; attending to our psychological needs.

Wellness in the 21st century is a comprehensive subject; one which we need to spend some time and energy prioritizing if we want to live our best lives and be the best that we can be.

I invite you to sign up for my new free monthly wellness newsletter, Wisdom Wednesday, where I'll be sharing tips and tools for wellness.


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