This article was published in Natural Awakenings, August 30, 2018.
Why Wellness is Central to Everything We Do
We sat down with Beth Gardner, certified lifestyle educator and the director of health and wellness for Acton Pharmacy, Keyes Drug, in Newton, and West Concord Pharmacy to discuss this topic in detail.
What is the difference between health and wellness?
Health refers to a focus on the body being free from illness and disease, while the state of one’s wellness goes far beyond. Wellness encompasses the balance of one’s physical, mental and emotional health, and includes practices that can prevent illness and enable improved health over the course of a person’s life.
How can wellness affect physical health?
When a person’s well-being is in a good state, they approach their lives with a positive outlook; they feel more connected and engaged and are more willing to exercise, be social and participate in activities. This active and social way of living can lead to such health benefits as a strengthened immune system and greater mental and physical resilience.
What are some methods for improving wellness?
I am always about food first. Rather than the word “diet,” which can bring negative feelings toward food, I like to discuss lifestyle nutrition and education to help people reach their goals. None of us are perfect and we can all use a little help addressing eating habits, exercise and stress management. Lifestyle nutrition and education teaches people it’s okay to fall off the proverbial food wagon as long as you know you can return to making positive decisions about your nutrition, exercise and stress management to attain your goals.
What activities can help?
Exercise can improve daily quality of life along with physical health. It allows chemicals in the brain to be released— endorphins—that improve mood and decrease stress. Yoga is one form of exercise that addresses flexibility, balance and endurance while meditation and mindful breathing can help develop a calm and focused mind.
A great place to start addressing wellness is by engaging in health activities in your own community. Attend a free lecture on a medical topic of interest. We offer health lectures at Acton Pharmacy. You can also look for a local yoga class. There are free tai chi classes—exercises for mind and body—held right on Boston Common and in other public spaces.
How does one determine their own best steps to improved wellness?
There are many basic steps toward wellness that can be useful, but everyone has their own unique care needs and these should be incorporated in an individual wellness plan. I generally start by sitting with patients and truly listening to their wants and needs, and this helps us to get to the root of the problem. I review medications the patient is currently taking alongside one of our pharmacists, as well as, lifestyle, food, supplements, bowel habits, gut health and how they are feeling overall. Then I collaborate with other healthcare professionals to get the proper testing, nutritional assessment and diagnosis for each patient. It is so satisfying to see people get on the path to health and wellness.
Beth Gardner meets with patients at all three pharmacies. She may be contacted at BGardner@DinnoHealth.com to learn more or to set up a personalized consultation.