Play With Your Friends

 In Stress, Wellness

When you feel anxious, what do you do? If your instinct is to call a friend, wonderful. The evidence is in that social wellness plays a huge role in health and wellness. This critical piece of the puzzle is often ignored in Western biomedicine, where your anxiety is chalked up to a simple chemical imbalance and pharmaceuticals are prescribed.

Clearly, there are cases where a pill is necessary and helpful. But even if the pill helps the symptoms of anxiety, what about the underlying causes? If your anxiety comes from the stressors in your life, a pill won’t do much to fix that, but a friend listening to you might. If the cause is a dysfunctional microbiome, neither a friend or a pill will fix that, but good self-care might. Think beyond pharmaceutical “cures” for anxiety and dig deep into what is promoting the anxious state in the first place.

“Mental illness” is a category of illness found in Western medicine, and not so much in other cultures. In the West, we love to separate the mind and the body, always looking for a pill to cure an ill.  But if you look at other, non-Western cultures, there is no distinction between the mind and the body. In many, the concept of mental illness simply doesn’t exist. Treatment is holistic. It often includes the individual as well as the community. And the community involvement is critical. Positive interactions with family and friends play a huge role in physical health and wellness.

So if you suffer from anxiety, don’t just take a pill. Nourish your mind, body and spirit. Eat non-processed, real foods, get enough sleep, exercise daily, and establish some self-care rituals. And don’t forget to go out and play with your friends—they may be the key to your health!

Homework: Make a play date with a friend. Go for a walk, get some coffee, go to the movies, whatever fits your fancy.

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