All of Us

Becoming Well…thy: Six Pillars

by Alan Steelman

Congressman Alan Steelman is a Dallas businessman with a career as a global management consultant spanning several decades. He has been chairman for various boards and committees, including the Dallas Council on World Affairs and also served as a representative for the state of Texas. Congressman Steelman is the father of 5, and MakeUsWell is happy to have him as a member.

MakeUsWell edited Alan’s words for clarity and length.

Why Well...thy?

Emotional balance and resilience are always fleeting and elusive in a “survival of the fittest” system like our own. The challenge is even greater now, given the devastation of the past 18 months. Many have questioned and reframed their priorities. Giving ‘well...thy’ equal footing in all of our lives will be a great start.

Adults are not the only ones coping with stress these days. Anxiety and depression among children has doubled, according to a recent study of 80,000 children.

Adding real-life stories from the pandemic of those who lost jobs, businesses, money etc., the current mental state across the world is quite fragile.

Nations such as America and other G-7 countries with capitalism ideology actively pursue wealth. But even communist China's citizens strive for wealth.

Stressful Times

This system in first world nations has mostly succeeded. There are few constraints on those with ideas and the work ethic. For the vast majority, the path to a secure retirement is available through hard work, savings, and the social safety net.

Until the last few years, collateral damage embedded in this system wasn't openly discussed. The pace of life in the digital age, even pre-covid, was bringing about an unprecedented mental and physical health crisis.

US deaths from opioid and alcohol abuse, suicides, and obesity totaled 225,000 in 2019 alone—exceeding those of all wars since WW2. Total numbers since the onset of the pandemic from all causes aren’t available, but deaths from opioids alone rose from 75,000 to 91,000.

Uncertainty and fear about the virus, housing insecurity, and social isolation are adding stress to everyday life. In addition, many parents are now juggling working from home while dealing with cooped up kids. Some have older loved ones they are caring for at home.

The coping mechanism for many is to ramp up the consumption of alcohol and various pharmaceuticals that will destroy lives. Damage from alcohol and various prescription drugs is widely reported and recognized.

Food addiction and the increased consumption of sugar-laden “comfort foods” are factors in the US and Mexico. We now have the highest global obesity rates.

There is a regimen open and available to all of us that doesn’t require any of these “false wizards.” I encourage y'all to adopt these 6 pillars of well-being into their daily lives. The mental and physical benefits are effective and long-lasting.

Coping With Stress - The Six Pillars:

  • Sleep: Sleep deprivation negates physical fitness, good nutrition, and virtually all else. Getting enough sleep is the most important pillar. ~7-8 hours each day (including naps), is necessary to avoid brain fog and provide the needed alertness for a productive day.
  • Nutrition: Eating well and in moderation is the key. Emotional eating is one way some self-medicate stress and anxiety. Obesity can kill as easily as alcohol and opioids. Recent studies show diet can factor into depression. Making different food choices can help manage this condition.
  • Movement: Running, cycling, walking, swimming, gardening, yoga, dancing. The most widely used and understood of the six pillars. Endorphins from cardio exercise help to provide a natural remedy for anxiety and stress.
  • Meditation: One of life’s greatest challenges is quieting our relentless mind chatter, and living in the present. Regrets about the past and worries about tomorrow, conspire to rob us of the peace of mind that “being here now” provides.
  • Be Social: As the song says, ‘one is the loneliest number.’ Social isolation is more lethal than smoking 16 cigarettes a day. Research shows loneliness increases inflammation, heart disease, dementia and death rates.
  • Nature: Nature therapy, or as it is known in Japan, forest bathing, is a technique for dealing with stress and anxiety. Nature walking exposes you to phyton, the natural chemical in leaves. It decreases cortisol levels, lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and reduces anxiety.

‘Wellth’ is the surfboard for life’s choppy seas. This 6 step regimen provides all of us a pragmatic framework for the days of our lives.