I was recently reminded about a patient I worked with about 18 years ago. It was the first time I saw this scenario happen, so it sticks in my mind.
She had migraines and I was helping her identify food and drink triggers. It was pretty easy to establish that red wine was a migraine trigger, and we were able to identify food triggers too.
And in terms of her lifestyle, not getting enough sleep set the stage for a migraine.
However, during our work together, she went on a vacation, leaving Montana for a warm beach. She stayed up late, drank red wine, ate whatever she wanted including food triggers, and even took a red-eye flight home. She never got a single headache or migraine!!!!
I was new in my private practice and it was a learning opportunity to understand just how much stress plays a role in our health. And how our bodies have more tolerance for (poor) lifestyles choices when stress is low.
If we could just live on vacation right?!
Anyway, 20 years later, I’ve heard this scenario over and over from patients and I have experienced it myself. It’s been discussed in medical forum’s I belong to as well, and the verdict is in.
Stress significantly adds to the “bucket” of stuff our body has to deal with…and so when we reduce stress, it’s like dumping the bucket of water out, and we’re back to an occasional “drip drip” from the faucet.
If we are conscious about our health, we often focus on diet and exercise. And we should. They are both major players. But today, let’s talk about what else plays a role in our health and healing, for better or worse.
STRESS. Life is busy, even if you are retired or rich. I don’t even think I need to expand on this as we all live it. But, I don’t know if you are fully aware of the health ramifications of stress. I just gave you a story of a former patient being able to enjoy a vacation, and all that comes with it, because her stress was reduced. Stress absolutely plays a role in the advancement, or demise, of our health.
SELF TALK. We have been brainwashed by the media and if we don’t look like a (photo-shopped) model, we are critical of ourselves. We say things like “I’m fat” “My skin looks terrible” “I wish I was ______”.
This is an endless list. What do YOU wish was different about your appearance?
How fast did that answer come??? See what I mean? It’s easy to be self-critical, but our bodies are listening to the words we speak! We literally invite health conditions to settle in when we agree with the symptoms we have. This goes for statements like “I’m tired” and “My joints hurt” as well. The mind-body connection is real, and this matters! More than you know! I’m still learning this lesson too, as scripture says to “take every thought captive” and I am becoming more aware that literally the power of life and death is in the tongue and the words we speak.
NATURE. Most of us live in seasonal climates and don’t spend daily healing time in nature. This could be because it’s too hot – or too cold or windy – outside. It could also be that we don’t spend time in nature because we don’t like the insects, we think a walk is no good unless we’re in the mountains, etc.
Let’s Dive Deeper …
1.STRESS: Chronic stress degrades our health. That’s a given and whether you eat paleo, or vegan, or the standard American diet….ALL camps agree on this.
Study after study shows the body healing when stress is reduced.
Who doesn’t want that?!
Therefore, your first free solution to improve your health is to engage in a daily practice that allows you to get out of the debilitating stress mode. You might incorporate:
- A breathing exercise, learning to breathe deeper to the diaphragm instead of the shallow breathing so many of us have become accustomed to
- Heart Math, which is DIY bio-feedback. I wrote an article about it here.
- A gratitude journal.
- Stretching exercises.
- Reading or listening to something uplifting like biblical scripture and verses related to hope and healing, Chicken Soup for the Soul, or whatever else lifts your spirit.
- Drinking tea and looking out a window watching the birds or the bees.
- Listening to pre-recorded or self -recorded encouraging statements and reminders.
What is important here is that this is a daily practice, just like eating, drinking and brushing our teeth.
Taking walks and gardening are hobbies but they are probably not daily practices for most of us, due to the weather restrictions most of us have.
2. SELF TALK: When you put a drop of water on a microscope slide, and examine it under a Dark Field Microscope, it literally shatters if you yell at it.
But, if you say loving words to it, the drop of water forms a crystal.
Water is alive and it responds to the messages we give it. It’s crazy but Albert Einstein documented how even rocks have a frequency, and the short story is that there’s a lot more to learn about our surroundings than we realize.
If you talk nice to a house plant, it is healthy and grows. But speak poorly to it and it will shrivel up and die. This has even gone out on Facebook with a video of the school project.
When researchers examine the chemistry of tears, it is different when they are tears of joy vs tears of sadness. Your body chemistry responds to your emotions. YOU decide your emotions. The world doesn’t change but how we react to it does. It’s only a thought, and thoughts can be changed.
As you change your thinking, your life also changes. You can be free in this moment forward. Choose your thoughts with care. How long have you been carrying around baggage from childhood or family drama?
Be willing to change (even if those around you don’t change). Release old negative beliefs with daily statements like “I choose with my free will to loose all the darkness, grief, fear, anxiety, trauma past and present, overwhelm, anger, resentment, and grouchiness from my soul.” Edit to to fit your needs. Follow it up with “I choose to bind the life, love, and presence of God to my soul.”
Forgive others even when they don’t deserve it as YOU are the one carrying the burden.
Your 2nd free solution to improve your health is to upgrade your self talk. Your body is listening. Really learn to love who you are. Right now, even if you wish things were different. Surely you must have something you like about yourself. Are you compassionate? Thoughtful? Generous? Organized?
Here are some new messages you could incorporate:
- I am safe and secure
- I have time for each task I need to do today
- My body is not attacking me; my body is working for me and protecting me even if I don’t understand what is going on, I trust my body
- I think clearly
- I declare Divine health over my body
- I receive God’s healing
- I am stronger today than yesterday
- I am a shining light to others who are less fortunate than I
- I forgive ______
- I am no longer _______ but I am ________
- Make up your own!
3.NATURE: The earth has a negative charge. It’s by God’s design and each time a lightning bolt hits earth, it deposits negative ions. The sun has a negative charge. The galaxies have a negative charge. Live water (rivers, oceans) have a negative charge. Without getting into the weeds on this, and although it’s opposite of what we’d think, NEGATIVE IONS are GOOD for our health.
Negative ions are used by the body to fight oxidation. Oxidation is when food turns brown when exposed to air. Our bodies oxidize (age) every day. But anti-oxidants slow that process down. It’s why a diet rich in colorful fresh and frozen fruits and veggies is anti-aging. Fresh fruits and veggies are loaded with negative hydrogen ions.
Negative ions also contribute their spare electron to the body’s Citric Acid/Kreb Cycle which is how we make ATP. This is human physiology and beyond the scope of this blog, but I hope you see negative ions are good for us and they are found in abundance in fresh produce especially when in it’s raw state, and negative ions are found in nature.
Therefore, one free solution to improve your health is to spend more time in nature.
- Get outside! Even if you live in the city. It’s best if you aren’t jogging along the freeway, but outdoor air is surprisingly still cleaner than indoor air.
- Mountain air, and the clean air after a good rain shower, is loaded with those negative hydrogen ions. Get outside and breath those ions in!
- The earth is loaded with those negative hydrogen ions. Sit on the grass, dirt, or the beach! Yes, take off your shoes! Get your toes in the sand or dirt. If you are walking by a creek, it is live water and is not the same as city water. Get in! At least dip your feet in!
- Swim in a body of natural body of water – like a lake, the ocean, or that creek we were just talking about.
- Let the sun soak into your bones (without sunscreen!). We need Vitamin D and in my 20 years of private practice, I have *never* seen a pill replace what time in the sun does. When I was attending Bastyr University in sun-less Seattle, I craved sunshine. I read a study where researchers took people with mild and moderate depression, and sat them on a park bench for 20 minutes a day. They couldn’t wear a hat and they needed to look up, not down into their phones. Although I’ve forgotten the exact percentages, the results were clinically significant. I’ve heard Anthony Williams say that the sun not only increases Vitamin D, but that it increases ALL of our nutrients, co-factors, anti-oxidants, etc. It makes sense when you step back and consider that we crave the sun as we age. And all animals take naps in the sun at times. If we listen to our intuition, we’d get outside more and be the better for it! Get 10-20 minutes of sun in the morning before the UVA and UVB rays are so powerful and damaging.
I remember another story about a gal who had chronic health problems. She lost her job, spent all her money trying to get well. And she was left with relying on people to take care of her. She started a daily yoga practice, and it was the missing piece for her because it allowed her to transition from stress to non-stress mode.
We can eat a super-clean diet, and take all the right supplements, but if we live in 24/7 stress, we’re still swimming upstream.
Improve Your Health – Your 3 Action Steps!
ACTION STEP #1 RE: STRESS: What daily practice will you commit to so you can teach your body how to move from stress mode into calm mode? HeartMath, breathing, stretching, reading, watching the birds or the bees…..Review the options I provided or add your own. Start with 10 minutes a day. Remember, “just” sitting or laying down and breathing with your whole diaphragm is an option.
ACTION STEP #2 RE: SELF-TALK: How can you edit your critical self talk? How can you learn to thank or appreciate your body, despite all you’ve been through and all you’ve been told, and begin to turn around those harmful thoughts?
And, just as important, how can you modify all those labels you’ve been given and that you’ve self-diagnosed? “I have Lyme” –> “My doctor said I have Lyme disease (and I’m going to learn how to work with my immune system and together we are defeating the pathogens responsible)”. Do you see how those two are different?
Or if you are a full-gospel believer, you could start putting your faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross and “by His stripes, I am healed”. Read Gods word because he is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. His word says that we are complete in Him, kept from falling, quickened by His mighty power, the head and not the tail, protected from the evil one.
ACTION STEP #3 RE: NATURE: What can you do – even in your climate – to get in touch with nature on a daily basis? Since most of us have to deal with weather, have a back up plan for days it just isn’t ideal to get outside! You could watch nature videos on You Tube for example. Brew up your favorite tea, and enjoy it hot or cold as you watch the birds fly and chatter. Tim Janis is one of our favorite nature artists on You Tube.