With all of the energy we are putting into the health care debate its time we re-define who our "Primary Health Care Provider" really is. The World Health Organization recently rated America 37th in health outcomes, on a par with Serbia. Our costs are more than twice as high per capita as those in other developed nations. I’ll borrow the famous line from The Music Man, and say "We've got trouble right here in River City," In fact, we've got trouble with a capital T on the healthcare front folks; no one can debate that.
America’s favorite doc Andrew Weil says in his new book Why Our Health Matters: A Vision of Medicine That Can Transform Our Future, says,” We have been manipulated by profiteers and mismanaged to the hilt by government overseers, healthcare and it only promises to get worse.” Dr. Russell Jaffe, an international authority on cellular physiology points out, " 92 % of illnesses are lifestyle related while 8% are genetic, yet our government agencies spend 90-98% on genetic research and inventing new machines and 2-10% on lifestyle research." Dr. Len Saputo and Byron Belistos in their book, A Return to Healing: Radical Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicine, put responsibility for our health right where it belongs—not with HMOs or even the AMA, but in our own hands. This type of self-responsibility is exactly what we need to take back control of our health and get serious about prevention.
So, the important question to ask at the personal level is this: how do I best take care of my self, my loved ones and if an employer, my staff?
A cornerstone of good health, body awareness, is essential and easy to learn. I’ve seen individuals and entire organizations improve their well-being, productivity, and motivation by getting more in tune with the body.
Living in your head, disconnected from your body, can be costly to individuals and companies. Low body awareness contributes to the three main reasons we don’t show up to work; illness, lack of motivation and injuries. For example, a vice-president of accounting gets so engrossed in problem-solving that he doesn’t even notice he has a death grip on his computer mouse. In time, he gets carpal tunnel syndrome and takes a leave of absence while the repetitive strain injury heals. Or, a lead engineer from R&D rushes down the hall to make an important meeting, all the while thinking about last minute changes to her PowerPoint presentation, only to trip and sprain her ankle as she walks into the conference room.
Injuries like these reflect in the bottom line. For instance, since introducing a preventative program called Safety Bingo, Wisconsin Centrifugal Inc has saved $1 million a year. In this on-site safety game employees are rewarded for avoiding accidents; According to WCI’s former ER manager, accidents at the company used to cost more than 4,000 salaried days per year from 60 lost-time accidents. Once Safety Bingo was introduced, that figure dropped to only six accidents and cost the company fewer than 100 days the first year.
Here are some other preventive measures that will help you take charge of your health and visit the doctor's office a lot less.
Ideas for Being your Own Health Care Advocate
1. Body Awareness - Take notice of your own rhythm or pace throughout your day. For instance, notice if you are rushing, gulping, slumping over your computer, straining while carrying packages or gritting your teeth while talking with your boss?
2. Stress Management Techniques - Learn how to calm your nervous system when anxiety sets in. There are many techniques available to keep your blood pressure from rising and your circulation flowing so you can feel energized versus exhausted, which makes you more vulnerable to illness.
3. Body Scans - Do spot checks of your whole body regularly, looking for any tension, sensations, and emotions or other warning signals from your body. Take deep breaths, let go and adjust your body accordingly.
4. Exercise - Moving your body regularly is always a great way to control your own health care and costs. The cost benefits of an employee fitness program were measured in a widely quoted Canadian study of more than 1,000 life assurance workers. Canada Life Assurance Co. calculated an overall saving of $250,000, or 1 per cent of payroll, based on a rate of 28 per cent participation in a fitness program.