When it comes to healthcare these days everyone seems to be pointing the finger at someone else. The insurance companies blame the hospitals and providers for the high fees consumers pay for coverage. The doctors blame the insurance companies for their limited time and access to resources for patient care. And everyone is blaming Obama!

But the number one factor in healthcare is self-care!

Food is Medicine

More than 75% of healthcare costs go to treating largely preventable chronic conditions, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease. And while access to care (10%), genetics (20%) and environment (20%) all factor into disease onset, most causes of disease are related to health behaviors and lifestyle (50%).

Psychologist Ellen Baker calls self-care an ethical imperative for mental health professionals. The demands of regular exposure to emotional distress and trauma can lead to depletion. When we don’t proactively attend to our basic needs and replenish our own storehouses of emotional and physical sustenance, we increase our risk for clinical impairment. Similar liabilities show up in studies of ministry professionals who are at far greater risk of depression and anxiety than people in other occupations.

I’ll be sharing some of my own experience with the occupational hazards of ministry and mental health at Self-Care for Helping Professionals at Azusa Pacific University in February.  While ministry and mental health professionals have an ethical responsibility to take care of ourselves lest our our impairment jeopardize our competency, I’m more and more convinced that all of us have a moral imperative for self-care.

What makes self-care a moral imperative for all of us? How about the 1.87 trillion dollars spent in the United States on largely preventable conditions?

My career transition from mental health to health coaching is largely motivated by my sense of moral conviction at the inequity that our over consumption of resources creates in a world where many lack basic resources. While we in the United States are busy gobbling up resources and making ourselves sick, children around the world are dying because they lack clean water, nutritious food and basic medical care.

Imagine how radically different the world would look if even a portion of that 1.87 trillion dollars went to meeting those needs. Many of my friends are doing just that by participating in Team World Vision’s Run for Water project. They are taking care of their own physical health by training for the LA Marathon while raising money to bring clean water, sanitation and hygiene to communities in Africa.

What about you?

What will you be doing in 2014 to attend to your own self-care?

How will you make a difference in reversing the healthcare crisis by making self-care a priority in your life?

If you’d like support with that, I’m available for no-fee phone consultations. Also, if you’d like updates on my workshops and health coaching programs for 2014, please sign up for my newsletter (lower corner of right sidebar).

***Statistics from Duke University Integrative Medicine Professional Health Coaching Training Program

Saturday, February 8th, 8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.