Self Care: 2 Biggest Mistakes
Holistic health and self care are booming. There’s no doubt about it. Even people that don’t believe in it have had a friend or family member convince them to use tea tree or lavender essential oil instead of an over the counter medication. Personally, I see new patients every day who tell me they are sick of taking pills and not fixing the underlying problem. The awareness that it can be done differently is growing and I love watching it.
But here’s where we are currently stuck. People understand if they eat ice cream every day and donuts for breakfast, they are going to gain weight. We have come to understand and accept that diet affects weight. But for some reason, it stops there. What we haven’t come to understand and accept is that the biggest factors in how healthy we are aren’t simply genes and luck of the draw but instead include lifestyle, diet, stress levels and self care.
I was just home recently and my father is a long time smoker. He coughs every morning. He knows this. He accepts that this is the price he pays for smoking and doesn’t think too much about it. I prefer this mode of thinking (even if I’d rather he didn’t smoke) to the mode of thinking that sounds like: “Ugh, I have this cough every morning, it’s so annoying but what can I do, it’s just my body”. This second mode of thinking assumes no responsibility for the current state of affairs. It doesn’t recognize the smoking as an issue and it also offers nothing in the way of attempting to treat it.
That is BIG MISTAKE number one: The thought or belief that you have no influence and no responsibility for the way your body feels and acts.
Now, this is a sticky thing to say. There is no part of me that wants people to feel blame for health conditions that are beyond their control. As the saying goes: Shit Happens. And this is true. However, epigenetics tells us that even if we have a genetic predisposition to a certain health issue, we need to some how ‘turn it on’ in order for it to express itself. The problem with this is twofold: 1. we know so little about it and 2. something that is totally not your fault can be the trigger. The stress of a loved one’s sickness, a car accident, the cleaning supplies used at your work, an ongoing stressful situation in your life, fumes or run off from a local factory, radiation – all things that can trigger a switch in your genetic function and cause a health issue to arise that is ‘genetic’.
Because this is true, I feel like this gives us an even stronger responsibility to do what we can in other areas of life to balance out the stuff we cannot control. Taking care of our diets, learning to regulate our emotions, sleeping the proper amount, exercising regularly and taking time to respond when a symptom arises are all ways to maintain your health and counteract the effects of all the stuff we cannot control.
This leads to BIG MISTAKE number two: Because you don’t know your body very well, you do All. The. Things. without knowing what works for you and YOUR BODY.
You finally decide that you want to be healthier, so you start googling. And you do it all. Coconut oil all over the place, essential oils for everything, an exercise routine, a Paleo diet – check, check, check, check. You follow a health guru online and follow their 10 step plan. It lasts two weeks and you crash and feel like garbage.
There has to be a better way. And there is. I choose to use the principles of Chinese medicine and I’ll give one to you here as an example. I find them to be easy to follow and practical. To be honest, it isn’t important that this is the method you choose, but there should be a method that is more evolved than ‘the kitchen sink’.
I wrote a few weeks ago about the 5 elements in Chinese medicine. Knowing what your primary and secondary elements are gives you huge clues into how you should treat your body and what issues you are most likely to have. I mentioned that ‘Earth’ people tend to have digestive issues and can bloat and gain weight easily. So – if you are an Earth person, you need to be more careful about your diet than the average person and it would be best for you to focus your health goals on having the best possible digestion. When this is functioning well in you, everything else is too. Knowing this one little piece of information allows you to focus your attention on the most useful self care tools. You don’t have to do all the things. You can simply focus on eating well and judge where you are based on your digestion and elimination processes. It allows you to focus and create easier to follow and easier to reach goals. How’s that for simple?
For an easy breakdown:
Fire people should use relaxation methods as often as possible to help deal with anxiety and overwhelm.
Wood people need to focus on balancing out their emotional responses (especially anger!) with exercise.
Metal people need to be sure to keep up their immunity and keep themselves safe from frequent colds, flus and sinus infections.
Water people need to focus on maintaining strength to avoid back and knee pain.
In just one more month I will be releasing an online course that will allow you to figure out what your element is and create a customized self care plan based on your health personality. The class is packed full of information and super fun to learn. If you aren’t on my newsletter list, now’s the time to do it. On the bottom and right hand sides of this page are a sign up spots, do it now! VIP class options will be offered within the newsletters and the number of places will be limited so you’ll want to know as soon as it drops!