Wellness. Really?


I just caught a commercial for Dayquil on television.  It stars the quarterback of the last Superbowl Championship team New Orleans, Drew Brees, and his wife.  I can (with a lot of mindfulness) make peace with superstars selling pharmaceuticals.  Maybe Drew Brees does believe that Dayquil is indeed beneficial.  I can also understand people leveraging their star power for financial security even if they don't particularly believe in the products they endorse.

In this particular commercial, Mrs. Brees is suggesting to her husband that he buy Dayquil and Nyquil now, before he gets sick, so he won't have to go out when he isn't feeling well.  When he argues that he will be fine, she mocks his capacity to make good choices.  He is, after all, still wearing his Superbowl t-shirt a year later.

The tag line on this commercial is "Walgreens, the way to stay well."

Augh.  Really?  What part of buying cold medicine helps you stay well?  This message is suggesting that we concern ourselves with an illness we don't have.  Which is not living in the present, enjoying the moment.  The focus of our attention is not on anything real, it is on some imagined illness.  And making decisions based on this imagining.  In this scenario, we would likely buy lots of medicines just in case we got something.  Come to think of it, that is exactly what our 'health care' system models.  Good thinking and good business for the pharmaceutical industry.  Not necessarily good for humans' well-being.  And I'm not convinced this is the best way to use our imagination.

Back to the commercial.  The idea presented is when we do get sick, this product will help us stay well.  What this product does is cover up our symptoms.  Again, the suggestion is to not be present to what our body is telling us that moment.

Symptoms are the mechanism in humans to signal whether or not we are doing life right.  They tell us whether our needs are or are not being met.  If we can feel what's happening, we can take the appropriate action the body is calling for us to do.  Rest, for example.  If we take something that inhibits the body's natural path to shedding toxins, the immune system is rendered impotent (or worse).   The short and long term effects of taking medication can be damaging to the body's ability to determine accurately what it is supposed to do.  Taking medication of any kind is serious business.  Insert big words here about TH1 cell mediated response vs. TH2 humoral response.  It is quite complicated.  I'm concerned about people making these decisions based on 30 second commercials.

Back to the idea of staying well.  In my view, neither worrying about the future, no taking medication that masks our capacity to interpret the signals designed to get our attention, is staying well.  It may let you do more of the things you want to do, (or don't want to do -- like go to work).  It may make you feel more comfortable in the moment.  It is not making you stay well.  More likely, the opposite is true.

One more thing.  I don't like the common theme on television of men being portrayed incapable and underachievers while their women are stuck putting up with them.  This kind of thinking and language represents to me another way we are not well.  The ability to have healthy relationships, thinking and speaking well of and to each other -- or not, is just another symptom, indicating we need change in our lives.

Ok, Walgreen, sell your wares.  Ok, do it using language and images that damage the facade of healthy relating.  Just don't say it is the way to stay well.