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Sometimes we need to look ‘outside the box’ – here are 5 things that can help you get healthier…
1. Listen To Your Body – Don’t Ignore it:
Some people get themselves into really big trouble because they ignore their body when it’s gently whispering that something is wrong. Ie – that itchy rash that you slathered with cortisone cream isn’t necessarily ‘better’ or ‘fixed’ just because it’s gone away now. The conditions in your body that created / gave rise to that rash are very likely still present, & you’ve made no attempt to change what you’re doing – just whacked some cream on to ‘make the noise go away’. That usually won’t be the last of it – often that rash will reappear somewhere else, worse than before – or you’ll get some other symptom (which may seem completely unrelated) popping up.
Symptoms are best treated as signals to pay greater attention to your health & make a change, not as annoyances to just remove ASAP. You can even use ongoing mild symptoms as a gauge to monitor where you’re at, & to help judge if a change you’ve made has been a good one for you. Respect your body’s attempts to communicate with you – if you ignore the whispers, you’ll have to deal with some shouting later on!
2. Diagnosis & Treatment – Shop Around, Get a Few Opinions:
Always get a 2nd (even a 3rd, 4th & 5th) opinion when a Dr recommends medication or surgery, or any invasive treatment that comes with its own set of risks &/or side effects. I speak to sooo many people who’re medicated unnecessarily, who’ve undergone surgery when other options would have been better. These are not decisions to take lightly, this is your body & you have the right to question your practitioner & get another opinion or 3 if you feel even slightly uneasy about the recommendations being given. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the diagnosis & recommendations of your practitioner, just putting it out there that different practitioners will have different approaches, different training, different experience & different tools to work with your issues. And no Dr has all the answers. You don’t have to go with the first piece of advice you’re given.
3. Diet – Be Open to Change, Be Flexible:
Nobody really knows what diet is the best one for you – despite what they might say! But if you’re not feeling 100% on your current diet, it makes sense to try something different. There are a lot of people who feel great on a vegan diet, a lot who feel better on a paleo diet, some just need to steer clear of dairy or gluten…some seem to thrive on the blood type diet…& then those who felt great for a while on some diet or other then slipped for no apparent reason.
We really only know the tip of the iceberg about how our gut works, the way we digest & assimilate nutrients & the interactions between the gut microbiome & our brain & immune system. My personal feeling is that we need to remain open & flexible to try different approaches when we’re ‘out of whack’. You can find negatives in almost every single food if you look (even many vegetables), so don’t freak out when you read / hear something negative about one of your faves that you thought was healthy – maybe it does have some unhealthy bits, but often the overall effect is a good one when you take into account all the good bits!
4. Look After Your Emotions – They’re Much More Powerful Than You Think:
It doesn’t matter how healthy & balanced your diet is, or how active you are if you’re feeling unbalanced emotionally. Negative feelings can absolutely cause you to become unwell, especially anything that goes on for too long without you recognising it, addressing it & working through it. Things like strong sadness, grief, loneliness, anger, work or relationship stress. We all have our challenges & stresses, we wouldn’t appreciate the ups if there were no downs – but, if there’s something in your life that is a constant niggle or a big loud disturbance to your mental-emotional wellbeing, it needs to be dealt with as a priority! Don’t set the expectation that you should be a completely zen monk-like human being, but if you’re placing all the focus on diet & exercise, & wondering why you’re not seeing results – look into the mental-emotional side of things. If you’re not laughing, playing, connecting, learning, challenging yourself, relaxing…doing whatever it is that feels most nourishing to your soul – do something about that today!! And if there’s an obvious stressor that is affecting you strongly, do something about that today too. Sometimes you just need to change the way you’re thinking about it, sometimes you need to make big scary changes.
5. Nature – Get Amongst It! You Were Designed To!:
So easy in this crazy concrete day & age to go for days / weeks without spending time immersed in (or even in contact with) nature. If you live & work in an apartment in the middle of a giant city, & have little downtime – it can be especially hard. A few ideas to help you ‘stay connected’:
- Open your windows (unless your area is quite polluted, let the sunshine & outside air into your home – it will bring in loads of natural & healthy microbes & prevent your indoor environment from stagnating & growing toxic mould). This might not be appropriate in springtime if you’re suffering a hayfever flare, but for everyone else – open up!
- Plant indoor plants (they can help filter & oxygenate your inside air, they attract healthy microbes & they brighten up your space). Ask at your local nursery for plants that are happy inside in pots, it doesn’t suit them all!
- Start a veggie garden – even if it’s only a few herbs in pots on the balcony! Gardening is a proven antidepressant, it can be quite meditative & very satisfying – plus you get all those lovely dirt microbes when you work on it & when you incorporate your uber-fresh produce into a meal.
- Head to the beach, lake, park, forest, farm etc in your downtime. Breathe deeply, hug trees, play in the mud, pat the animals, roll in the leaves / sand, swim & don’t rinse too quickly…get covered in microbes from healthy natural ecosystems! You’ll give your immune system something to do, & introduce some ‘old friends’ (microbes we evolved with) into your personal microbiome.
- Get a pet. Yes, they drop hair all over the place & walk dirt from outside into your home, & lick the kid’s faces – but that actually makes your space healthier! Get over the grubbiness & embrace your messy pet. They make you healthier in many other ways too (studies actually show that pet owners are happier & healthier). Remember that as you’re sweeping hair & picking up poo :)
- Buy farm fresh organic fruit & veg (shop at the markets), or grow some of your own. Plants taken fresh from a healthy organic soil ecosystem have a completely different microbiome than those grown on a chemical soaked conventional farm in chemically fertilised soil. Chemicals kill things / interrupt ecosystems. Even if the produce looks & tastes the same, you’re not getting the same good bugs with it. And bugs can have a huge impact on your health. It’s a good thing when you see a slug on the lettuce you’ve just bought…it means the food you’re eating supports life & that a living creature has chosen to eat it / make it’s home there…it’s much more scary if you never find creatures in your food!
…it’s not ALL about diet, exercise & supplements…these have their place, but they aren’t the only things to consider! Tell me what you’ve found to be the biggest health challenge, or the most unexpected healing tool you’ve figured out? Leave a comment below or send me an email.