Health and wellness is estimated to be a $3 trillion dollar market and growing (excuse the use of American statistics) and the UK is rated as 9 out of the world’s top 10 growing markets.
This indicates that something is happening in the global consciousness; there’s an understanding that our health is valuable and worth investing in.
Many market interests in health and wellbeing lean toward looking ‘good’ – slim, swishing sleek hair, glossy nails and the like. The narrow margins that depict body image from the mainstream media offer to us a monosyllabic and uninteresting model designed to help us buy. No one made money from telling people that they are perfect as they are.
However, there is a point to be made here – glossy hair and good nails will come with good nutrition and perhaps that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly than endless bottles of products, and who doesn’t want to feel and look good?
We don’t all aspire to the same ideal when it comes to the aesthetic of the body, but where we do all find ourselves united is a wish for good health. I recently watched a TED talk that illustrated our commonalities as humans when we escape divisions of class, age, ethnicity and gender. What we really all want is good health, friendship and prosperity.
So the time is ripe, with billions of us investing in our heath and well-being; I believe like many others that our health is in our own hands.
Of course I do not suggest that where there’s illness there’s blame. I mean that we have the choice to decide how we nourish our bodies and our minds to maintain our health without becoming obsessive of course and always remembering life is to be enjoyed.
A recent visit to Thailand introduced me to many devote Buddhists and Taoists whose relationship to the natural world and cycles of the body inspired me greatly. Everything in life was to be understood by balance and harmony, which makes sense when we know scientifically that the body is continually in motion to find homeostasis.
Our massage teacher taught us that the body and the mind need to be balanced and in sweet communication with one another because the danger that comes from internal conflict both emotional and physical is illness. Why?
Where there’s stress there is poor health because of overworked immune systems and bodies in fight mode and this is why we get ill!
It can and has been argued that we’re addicted to our ‘doing’ lifestyles and that the commodification of time is having negative consequences for us all. We sleep on average less hours than we used to; a staggering 47% of Britons say that stress keeps them awake at night and The Sleep Council’s research tells us that only 21% of 45-54 year olds report that they sleep well.
Sleep is when we rejuvenate and replenish our bodies. Good sleep is essential for good health!
Do we know how to relax? Do we even give ourselves permission to relax? For too many people relaxing is sitting down in front of the television.
When we look at the effect on the brain this really isn’t relaxing at all. In fact it a stimulation that only increases our metabolic production of the steroid cortisol, high levels of which can increase anxiety and depression and have other negative metabolic effects. Not to say don’t enjoy a good box set or game show, just to say this isn’t really ‘switching off’.
All of this research is available, but are we paying attention? I write this to urge everyone to listen and think; we are all different humans with different needs, desires and passions but we all need rest and good health.
Do you take time to make kind decisions for your body? Do you exercise? Have you got a high quantity of processed foods in your diet? Do you make time to cook? Do you ever practise stillness?
You might not be able to go out and get a massage, but if you can have you ever? If you can’t ask a friend or partner who might just be able to squeeze your shoulders. Do you give and receive hugs? In the lexicon of meditation and the yogic tradition you will hear the words ‘inner smile’. Can you love yourself and your body and offer to yourself happiness.
Can you gift yourself free time, a hobby, a moment to breath or space?