A Journey Into Self-Care: Resisting Illness, Naturally
By Abby Beale,
When I was young, I had frequent upper-respiratory infections, ranging from the common cold to bronchitis to pneumonia. If it was going around, I would get it. And when I got it, I would be brought to the doctor, ordered to drink lots of fluids, stay in bed and sometimes given a medicine. Eventually, I got better. The body WANTS to heal.
But the predisposition and the tendency to get sick often stayed with me for many years. All I had to do was to breathe around a sick person and I would come down with that illness. I was susceptible to everything and anything going around.
Fast-forward 40 years to where I am now. I have found a plethora of natural, inexpensive and healthy things to help reduce my susceptibility to illness AND to feel well most of the time. Being sick sucks and I do everything I can to avoid it.
So what have I learned along the way? Here’s a general laundry list of things that I have found useful – I hope some of them are helpful to you:
1 – Wash the hands often! When my kids were little and had been getting sick more frequently, we instituted frequent hand-washing, usually with warm water and soap (not antibacterial gel). This amazingly simple act worked very well to stave off illness.
2 – Figure out what makes your digestion unhappy, and then reduce or eliminate them. Things like gluten, sugar, dairy, food additives, alcohol, caffeine, pharmaceutical medicines (especially antibiotics) and others are likely candidates. Stress is also a contributor to stomach discomfort which can be reduced through some of the ideas presented in number 5 below.
3 – Get enough sleep on a regular basis. Do you know how much sleep you need to feel good every day? For me, it’s between 7-8 hours a night. How do I get it? I set a bedtime based on the time I need to get up. Just like little children, we thrive on a sleep routine and are cranky when we don’t get enough. Feeling rested also helps manage your stress and ability to think clearly.
4 – Drink plenty of water. 60% of the human adult body is made up of water so in order to live healthfully, we need to keep hydrating. Without enough water, you can feel exhausted, foggy, lightheaded, thirsty, dry mouth, feverish, headache, faint, and more. Though made from water, coffee and tea (except decaf tea) are not qualifiers as water intake because they act as diuretics (causing increased urination) and take water out of your body. Any coffee or tea you do drink ideally warrants a glass of water to replenish your water loss.
5 – Exercise Self-Care. When I was a younger mother of two young sons, someone told me “if mom’s not happy, then no one is happy!” That resonated with me. I was feeling stressed wanting to do everything for my family and very little for myself. So, I took that statement to heart and slowly started to find and do things that made me happy and as a result, slowly reduced my susceptibility to illness. I also believe I was able to be a better mother. They include:
- Regular physical AND mental exercise – It doesn’t have to be strenuous! You just need to move and aerate the body, especially if you’re sedentary during the day. I started out walking, then found lap swimming to be more meditative and restorative. Yoga has been a life-saver for me for helping calm the busy nervous system and to coordinate my breath with movement. I’ve learned that every day is different in what I am able to do and to honor that humanness. The idea of meditation has been beckoning for years and I finally started to experience it last year. I now use guided meditation apps on my phone which force me to stop, sit and breathe deeply which simply calms the mind.
- Time with friends and family – As the Harvard Women’s Health Watch reported, “Dozens of studies have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.” Scheduling a coffee, a walk, or catch-up phone call with someone you care about are simple, inexpensive and satisfying activities.
- Enjoy some personal care – Things like manicures, pedicures, haircuts, etc can go a long way towards a person’s happiness!
- Natural medicine support – Homeopathy has been a game-changer for me and my family in terms of feeling well (mentally, emotionally and physically) and reducing susceptibility to illness. Additionally, on an as needed basis is naturopathy (supplements, vitamins, herbs, etc.), chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture treatments, therapeutic massage, cranial-sacral sessions, reflexology, etc.
of the things I mention here are low-to-no cost to-do’s you can incorporate
into your life. None of it comes as a quick fix but these life-altering habits,
when done on a regular basis, will help you live a more calm, healthy and
centered life, now.
One thing I am sure of: If you don’t find time for self-care now, you will have to find time for illness later. What can you do now to prevent illness later? Let me know if you want to talk!