Standing in the grocery store checkout line, reading the magazine covers while I awaited my turn – it struck me how many headlines refer to getting things done in as little time as possible: “Lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks”,” Fast-track your house cleaning,” “7 easy steps to a better relationship” – and my favorite – “Dinner in under 20 minutes.”
Why are we in such a hurry to get things done? Yes, we’re all really, really busy these days with work, family, school, friendships and the need to take care of ourselves, but it seems we may have traded in the time we used to give to these life-enriching areas for time we happily give to doing… well, nothing. Watching television, playing on our cell phones or even reading about how to get things done faster and easier are all distractions to the job at hand – whatever that may be. It reminds me of the words from an old country song – “all I really gotta do is live and die, but I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”
In the context of our health we’ve become conditioned to look for quick fixes – often in the form of a pill – and it’s become quite common to think that your health is restored once the pain is gone. We’ve become very adept at shutting up our symptoms. Have a headache? – Take some aspirin. Body aches? – Reach for the ibuprofen. Acid reflux? – Stop that fire fast with some antacid! Symptoms gone? – All better. Unfortunately, ignoring or suppressing a symptom doesn’t make the underlying problem go away and eventually those symptoms will only get louder and perhaps more serious.
There is an art to everything – from cooking your family meals to cultivating healthy relationships – and by looking for the shortcuts we miss out on the joy of the journey. Nowhere is this more apparent than in taking care of ourselves and improving our health. So, as we ride the crest of the wave into the New Year, with all of our resolutions and good intentions, maybe it’s time to slow it down and look at our approach.
With that said, here is my “quick and easy” list for slowing down, paying attention and reaping long-term benefits from your efforts!
Learn to cook. Anyone who has come to see me at the clinic will attest to the fact that my number one suggestion for improving health is to learn how to feed yourself. No kidding. Relying on restaurants with their over-used and often poorly chosen oils and fats along with questionably sourced animal products is taking a gamble with your health. Though there are an increasing number of really terrific and health-conscious restaurants serving our area (aren’t we lucky?!), they can be expensive. Better to save the eating out for Date Night and strive to return to the good old days of eating in. Feeling socially isolated? A girlfriend of mine started a weekly cooking club where everyone comes to one another’s home bringing food, recipes, and all kinds of strategies for the kitchen. She’s having a blast and not only is she making new friends, she’s even improved her knife skills!
Start an exercise routine that you love. If you don’t like to run then don’t run. If dancing brings you joy then dance. It’s that simple. The only caveat to this statement is, again, slow down – see if you really don’t enjoy it. Sometimes it’s just getting used to a new routine or getting fit enough to enjoy it. I remember when I started running again after being a long-distance runner in college and falling away from it for several years – I hated it. All I could think was “how on earth did I ever enjoy this?” Then I started running the trails in Forest Park and the world of running changed for me forever. Suddenly, I was 10 years old again running through the woods and jumping over fallen trees. What joy! It was no longer exercise to me – it was therapy! Whatever it is you choose to do, just do it long enough to find out if it moves you. Then just do it.
Get a good doctor. I hear so many people tell me that they go to the doctor they see because of their insurance plans. Some stay with the same doc for years just because they hate the “hassle” of finding a new one. It is a fact that when gathering data on drug effectiveness the pharmaceutical companies know to keep any doctor/patient relationship out of the picture. Why? Because the relationship and trust that is created between a good doctor and their patient has a positive effect on optimizing a person’s health. On the flip side, think about how detrimental a poor relationship can be? Have you ever felt dissed by your doc? Five minutes of their time and the door is shutting in your face – midsentence? Take the time to find yourself a doctor that cares and will listen. You’ll feel the difference.
Finish what you start. We all have the same mantra “if only I had the time…” Yes, if only. It’s actually less about time than it is about commitment and integrity. Don’t let time be an excuse to not get your stuff done! If you want to write that book, play that instrument, or lose that weight – make the time to get it done. Set your priorities and don’t let other things distract you from using that time to finish what you want to finish. You’ll feel less stress and more happiness when the “lack of time” doesn’t exist for you.
Detoxify your life. Toxins are all around us. In the air we breathe, the water we drink, the foods we eat – even the people we hang out with can be toxic! Do we take the time to really think about what it means to detoxify our lives? We may do a metabolic liver cleanse – but continue to use a shampoo with detergents that can mess with our hormones. We drink filtered water but bathe in unfiltered water. We go for a run – in downtown traffic pollution. Reducing toxins in our environment reduces stress on us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. So take some time to look at your world – your home and workplace – and make a commitment to truly detoxifying your life.
At Nature Cures Clinic, we believe that the underlying cause of many people’s health concerns can be addressed by eliminating common food allergens that contribute to toxicity in the body and then healing the gut lining. Any food that is not properly digested and entering the system through an unprotected gut is considered a toxin and will create an immune response. Fatigue, joint pain, headache, bloating, bowel issues and stomach pain are just some of the physical symptoms caused by an unhealthy digestive system – and anxiety, depression, ADD, brain fog, epilepsy and other neurological disorders are also connected to this imbalance in the system.
One of my favorite poets is Mary Oliver – she writes about the human experience using nature as her backdrop. Below is a link to a video using one of her poems “The Journey.” Please, sit back and relax – listen and enjoy the journey you’re on. And, when you’re ready… slow down.