Healthcare remains a top social concern for Millennials. In the 2017 Millennial Impact Report, healthcare was one of the top three issues, similar in 2016. Healthcare matters.
Health IT matters, too. Right now, it is National Health IT Week, an effort to raise awareness of the value of health IT. Part of the initiative is for individuals to share their health IT stories. You can follow along through the Twitter hashtag #IHeartHIT. Stories bring people together, and they are an empowering call for others to learn and share.
Even though healthcare is a top generational issue and health IT is an enabler, health literacy suffers. Health literacy is defined as “the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.” The unfortunate statistic is only 12 percent of U.S. adults had proficient health literacy.
Healthcare – A Passive Pastime
Healthcare seems passive to many. We only need to worry about healthcare when we, or someone we love, encounters a health challenge. When we get sick, we begin to research. We try to understand what is happening. We start from behind, and we may do more listening to the professionals than asking the right questions.
We can never plan for the unexpected. Luckily, we have many talented healthcare professionals and experts who can help us when health issues strike. We also have many reputable healthcare sites to search and read. However, we need a shift in our attitudes and approaches if we want to become more health literate. After all, we pay a lot out of our pocket to obtain the best care when we need it.
No different than businesses. Employers pay 83 percent and 72 percent of health insurance for single and family coverage, respectively. When the average single and family coverage is $6,251 and $17,545, respectively, the costs add up for all involved. (Zane Benefits, February 16, 2016)
We cannot afford to be passive.
Healthcare – A Shift from Healthcare to Wellness
We need to be proactive in our care. More to the point, we need to be proactive in our wellness. Terminology does not solve everything, but a small nudge can produce big changes. When we adopt a wellness mindset, we begin to become more involved in what it means to be well.
Think about it. When you think healthcare, you think visits to doctors, flu shots, and annual physicals. When you think wellness, what comes to mind? Different activities arise. We think about exercise, eating, vacations, attitude, and much more.
Ditching healthcare for wellness may increase our health and health IT literacy. Instead of annual physicals, we have annual wellness checks. Instead of going to a hospital, we go to a wellness center. Instead of a health app, we use a wellness app. We are at the center of our wellness.
I know this isn’t a simple shift, but we need a mindset shift if we are going raise our wellness (health) literacy.
We need to embrace a wellness mantra of:
- Be Well
- Get Well
- Stay Well
- Act Well
To be well, we need to act. Be well covers mind, body, and soul. We need practices in each area to promote our complete wellness.
With our bodies, we need good exercise, eating, and cleaning practices. The key is to find what works for us. Information overload stymies us in making a selection. Excuses crowd out actions. We may need to try running, biking, walking and hiking to find which one fits us best. We need to ditch the excuses and schedule time for our body wellness.
I love mountain biking, but it doesn’t love me. After my third accident and more broken bones, I shipped my mountain bike to one of my nephews. Although mountain biking didn’t fit me, running and hiking does. No broken bones and reasonable fitness. I also am open to trying new things, like Orangetheory, to be well. We need to find what works for us and our body.
Our minds need wellness, too. The good news is that exercise practices can help clear our minds and enhance our brain health. Mental health is as important as physical health. To be well, our mind needs a mix of nature and meditative practices. It can be a walk in the woods or a seat in a park. It can be meditation or prayer. It may be a good conversation. We need to tend to our minds.
Our souls need care. Our inner drive and voice need relief and a spark. Being lazy for a day or an hour may rejuvenate our souls. Nature enters our soul picture, helping to absorb the wonder of our world. A good conference may also inspire our soul, just as a good book does. Our souls empower our efforts, and we need our soul to be well.
At certain times, we break down. We get ill. We feel sick. When we fall apart, we need to add in special responsibilities to recover as best we can. We need to ask, seek, and decide what we will do next. Physicians and nurses help, as will therapists and counselors. Getting well is not passive. We need to ask questions to understand. We need to seek information to ask more informed questions. We need to decide what we will do next after we absorb it all.
Get well is a proactive sport. We need to play our role fully and try to impact the outcome with our efforts. About seven years ago, I was diagnosed with osteopenia (yes, men get osteopenia, too). My physician advised me that I could take a pill to build bone strength. There were some side-effects but not to worry. Or, I could start a practice of lifting weights. Strength training is a good bone wellness practice. After searching about the side-effects of the pill, I decided to undertake weight training. Since then, my bone loss subsided, and my bones strengthened.
I know much more serious illness strike us, no matter our age. The point is we need to ask, seek, and decide. To get well, we need to be active in our care process. We also need to surround ourselves with a supportive community.
Staying well may be the most difficult. To stay well, we need consistency. We need to eat for our wellness as often as we can each day, week, and month. Exercising consistently is a must, just as sleeping long enough each night is essential. Keeping our mind, body, and soul well means we need consistent practices across each. Staying well takes stamina and determination.
Wellness IT and apps help. With certain apps, we can measure how we are doing in each category. For example:
- Mind: We can use Headspace or Calm to take 10 minutes or more to meditate. We receive alerts to remind us to unplug and center.
- Body: We can use Lose It! or Runtastic to track our calories and runs. Android and Apple have watches and apps to tell us when to get up and move and know where we stand in our daily wellness.
- Soul: Although there may be an app for our soul, the biggest app is no app, meaning just unplug and be present where you are. Unplug and center your soul. Dive into a novel. Close your eyes and say a prayer. Whatever fits your soul, just unplug.
Too much discussion is taking place about the value of smart watches or wearables. Just try one, if you have the desire. I bought an Android watch on sale, and I have gained insights about my wellness habits more completely than before. Measuring motivates. Technology may not help you. What you need to do is find what works for you. After all, that is the key to saying well.
The wrapper around staying well is community. Many wellness communities exist, from running to exercise to meditation to hiking clubs. Wellness is being proactive so find the right community to support you in staying well. Remember, you also support others. We all play a wellness community role.
Acting well is self-leadership. Acting with character and trust empowers us to lead and act well. When we watch or read the news, we see too many not acting well. We need to set a better example where we are. We cannot wait for others to change. We need to act on the change we want to experience.
Another key element of acting well is giving well. An attitude of gratitude adds to our wellness reserves and builds wellness in others. We need to approach life with an attitude of being grateful and showing our gratefulness with small acts of kindness. We need to speak in a kind way, too. Being kind is not being weak; it is listening intently, acting with character, and delivering results that matter.
Acting well weaves through all aspects of our lives. Acting well is the motivating thread through our wellness mantra.
Wellness – Activate Yours
Be Well, Get Well, Stay Well, Act Well. Embrace your complete wellness. We will be much more than engaged patients. We will foster an activated wellness community. We all play a wellness role, so let’s jump up and take it on!
What other wellness activity is vital for you and your community?