If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or any other social media, then you've probably heard me going on about my ‘Month Of Healing.'
The concept is one that I made up out of necessity. In short, I was about to run out of money and needed to be at least well enough that I could work and afford to live.
At the time, things were moving very slowly with my doctors; they kept diagnosing me with new physical and mental conditions but still couldn’t give me an answer on how to improve things.
Just like many others in my situation, since the problems started I had given a ridiculous amount of time to researching my issues: attempting to understand what was happening medically and biologically; finding and trying as many alternative therapies as possible; hoping to find that one cure that would fix all.
My month of healing is a conglomeration of all I discovered; a holistic approach to targeting and relieving every ailment. Here’s an overview if you want to a similar tactic yourself!
1. Stress Relief
Stress affects health. This is an unavoidable and undeniable truth that the majority of us spend all our time avoiding and denying. Without going into a full neurological explanation, the chemicals we produce when stressed are pretty destructive. It only takes a quick Google to discover that long-term exposure to Adrenaline and Cortisol is not good!
Our bodies stress response was designed for our prehistoric lifestyles. It gave us superhuman powers to escape from danger or fight for survival. It was not intended to be a 24/7 feature of our brains - as is today. Because of long-term stresses, such as work demands and social pressures, these chemicals overwhelm our body.
So, Step 1 of my month of healing was to ensure I had time off work, refuse any social visits and give myself a stress-free environment to focus on healing.
2. Improve Fitness
As with seemingly everything chronic illness related, fitness when you’re ill is one of those deliciously frustrating catch 22s. You feel awful all of the time, so exercise is the last thing on your mind. However, improving your overall fitness can apparently help a whole plethora of ongoing health problems.
Exercise as a cure was something that I stumbled across when research Fibromyalgia relief, but it makes sense that it can apply to many other conditions. Think of it this way: when an Olympic athlete gets ill, they probably don't feel half as bad as when a chain-smoking, couch-potato is sick – right?
It's critical to note, however, that Step 2 comes with a significant cautionary warning! Always, always, always consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regime if you're sick. Consider your limitations and do not push yourself too hard. I’ve found that low-impact exercises, such as cycling and cross-training, work best for me - but everyone is different.
3. Strengthen Body & Mind
Just as better fitness promotes better general health – and thus, in theory, milder symptoms – strength is also a factor. Especially for me, as I suffer from hypermobility, making sure my muscles are strong enough to hold my weight can have massive implications on how good I feel.
Similarly, often pain is more a reflection of how well we're able to deal with it, rather than the actual cause. Often I believe my pain has significantly improved since it began, but in reality, it's just that I'm more equipped to ride the waves.
Before I started my ‘Month of Healing', it was certain that yoga and meditation were going to make up a significant amount of the plan. They're the two things that have served me best and, I kid you not, on good days I can now actually meditate pain away. It wasn’t till during day 4 of the Month of Yoga by Sarah Beth Yoga that I saw the true link between a strong body and mind.
In her morning vlog, Sarah Beth pointed out that your mental strength dictates how you approach physical challenges. With this in mind, I flew through her 15-minute power yoga practice. And this idea is just as relevant for managing bad health.
4. Clean Out The Insides
There’s a diet for every health condition. In fact, there are so many – most of which seem to offer completely conflicting advice – that often sufferers give up on attempting them before they've had chance to work. However, the old adage is still as true as ever: you are what you eat.
I’m not going to suggest a diet for you, what I will say is that trial and error is your best friend here. After years of experiments, this is my rulebook for my month of healing step 4.
- No processed foods.
- No refined sugars.
- No diary.
- No bread.
- Whole-wheat pasta only.
- As much fruit & veg as my IBS will allow.
- No smoking, drinking or caffeine.
- As little pharmaceuticals as I can manage, with natural alternatives when possible.
- Lots of turmeric, cinnamon, and other spices.
- Herbal teas – my current faves includes decaf green, ginger, nettle, valerian and chamomile.
- As many superfoods as I can
Most importantly, the plan is to listen to my body. By tuning into your cravings and symptoms, you can make educated edits to your diet to work out what's best for you.
I found an amazing quote once that pointed out that fitness is measured, not by your ability to push, but by your capacity to recuperate. While I've never been able to find it again, so can't provide you a source, you get the general gist.
One of the biggest challenges of constantly drowning in physical and mental illness is that you often aren't able to get any respite. My anxiety is so bad on a day-to-day basis that just ‘relaxing' is not an option. Likewise, my sleep is terrible and out of control. This one fact is probably the most detrimental to my overall health.
As I've already mentioned stress chemicals, now is the time to point out relaxation chemicals. Dopamine and Oxytocin are both examples of yummy hormones that are wonderfully healing and calming. When your body's not functioning well, then it's harder to get this relief, and this makes life very tricky; I've often compared it finishing a marathon and being asked to run another with no prior warning.
There are no definite solutions I can come up with for this one. I’m (reluctantly) using sleeping pills, alongside CBD oil and my Sleepy MONQ. I’m also attempting binaural beats therapy and a stringent nightly routine. Fingers crossed it will have a positive effect.
Finally, I'm ending my 'Month of Healing' by gradually restoring my work day routine as the time goes on. It's no use to have a super health month and to fall straight back into old habits once the stress returns. Instead, identifying how you can create the best of both worlds will, in theory, set you up to be equipped for long-term health management!
So, I'll be back in a month to let you know how it goes! Meanwhile, any words of wisdom and support would be much appreciated - comment below!
And please remember, if you're going to try your own healing month, then be sure to speak to a doctor before you begin anything!