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Stress and the Autonomic nervous system part 2.

Last week I wrote about how to dial down the sympathetic part of our autonomic nervous system (ANS) to help with stress. This week I want to write about activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This is relatively easy but unless we have decreased the sympathetic drive it is often like putting a band aid on a laceration that requires suturing. It might help a little but eventually we need to treat the root cause, which is the sympathetic overdrive. No amount of meditation and mindfulness can help in some situations and especially if we are burnt out or have adrenal fatigue we need to address the stressors at the same time as activating the PNS

To activate the PNS the following will help.

  • Meditation

Meditation is great for calming the sympathetic system and engaging the parasympathetic instead. If you’re like me you might get a little anxious in formal meditation! “I’m not doing it right, my mind won’t stop thinking, I can’t concentrate on my breath because I’m worried about something that has happened to me.” Sometimes our brains are just thinking too much.

I prefer a walking meditation or a guided visualisation exercise. But many people find formal meditation very calming and centring. Any form of meditation helps you get in touch with your inner self and its wisdom.

  • Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about focussing your awareness on what you are doing in the present moment. It involves being aware of what is happening right now and not thinking about the past or future. It is like meditation in that it calms the mind and helps to de-stress.

It is relatively easy to incorporate mindfulness into everyday life. You can do the dishes mindfully; paying attention to what you are doing rather than being off in your head thinking about everything that you think you need to be worrying about. You can eat mindfully, drink a cup of tea mindfully, exercise mindfully, you can do any activity where you focus your awareness on that activity.

Mindfulness helps us live more in the present moment.

  • Spend time in nature

Getting closer to nature and the earth helps calm the ANS. It helps if we connect with nature mindfully. Sometimes I go for a walk along the beach but am so much in my head thinking about everything that I hardly pay attention to where I am. When I realise this I try to bring my awareness to the waves and the wind and the sky and my brain starts to calm down a little. Of course even when my brain is in overdrive while I walk I am connecting with the earth but when I bring my awareness to my surroundings and am present this is even more grounding and calming.

To actively ground yourself will decrease the electrical charge in your body which helps relaxation and healing. To do this you need to be in direct contact with the earth; walking barefoot, sitting on the ground or hugging a tree are all good ways to earth yourself. You can also buy earthing devices, which may help if you live in an apartment or can’t get out to actively earth yourself.

  • Deep breathing

Many of us breathe on a shallow level. This is both a result of being anxious and wired, and a cause. If we do some deep breathing, into our bellies, this activates the parasympathetic system and slows things down. Some people just don’t know how to breathe deeply so if you find it hard to take a deep breath and feel your belly expand then you might need to practice. It is best to practice when you are feeling calm.

Lie down with your hands on your belly and slowly breathe in through the nose. Let the air expand your rib cage and feel you diaphragm descend and your belly expand outwards against your hands. Slowly breathe out feeling your belly descend and your chest compress. Let these deep breaths flow in and out with your belly rising and falling. You might like to sigh the breath out your mouth and feel the stress leaving your body as you do so.

Once you have mastered the deep breathing you can do some anytime. Taking a few deep breaths will calm you if you’re anxious or hurried. Even when you’re not anxious it helps to take deep breaths to centre yourself and bring more calm into your day.

  • Relaxation

Any form of relaxation can turn on our PNS. I don’t mean sitting in front of the TV with a glass of wine although this may help for some people. I find the best way to relax is to lie on the earth and just sink in. Other people like to do relaxation exercises and there are many of these available on phone or computer. Or you might like to just lie and listen to calming music while you relax. Combining relaxation with deep breathing is great.

Whatever way works best for you will help in your healing. And if you’re busy just stopping for a few minutes to consciously relax will bring some calm back.

  • Exercise such as yoga, qi gong or tai chi

Yoga, Qi gong and tai chi are all wonderful for calming the SNS and activating the PNS. They work with the energies of the body and help us balance our ANS. There are so many options available to practice these programs that we really have no excuse for not incorporating them into our wellness routine. Classes can be taken locally or online and the benefit from even a few minutes a day is that our nervous system becomes calmer almost immediately.

  • Rituals

Many rituals can have a calming effect. Lighting a candle or incense in a mindful manner can be a useful ritual that gets the body ready to relax. A warm bath before bed or for children the ritual of a bedtime story calms the ANS down. You can make up your own rituals and they have a way of imbedding in your life so that as soon as you begin the ritual the body knows it is relaxing.

  • Sleep

Sleep down regulates the SNS and up regulates the PNS so I have put it in both lists. Sleep is just really important to healing and particularly if stress is a big component of your illness it is vital to be sleeping well.

  • Play more

Not many of us spend much time playing as we get older. But play is wonderful for decreasing stress especially when we do it mindfully and pay attention to the play rather than what else we think we should be doing.

Playing with children helps remind us that play is a great way to learn and also to relax. There are many ways to play including board or card games (although not those that make you highly competitive which activates the SNS) and creative play such as pottery, woodworking, painting, sewing and other crafts.

  • Music and dance

Both listening to and playing music help activate the PNS. Although some music, such as hard rock or heavy metal may stimulate the SNS in some people. It’s the same with dance, which mostly activates the rest and relax response but if it’s too hard rock or the like it may stimulate the SNS for some of us.

Most of us know which music and/or dancing is good for us to de-stress with. I have found that my stress levels are much lower if I listen to music when I drive rather than talk radio or podcasts. We seem to want to fill our lives with information and don’t always take time to just listen to music. Try to just sit and listen to some music rather than doing something else at the same time.

Dancing is a wonderful release and we can do it by ourselves and just move to music any way we want. Some people take classes or go to dance groups but for many people this adds an extra stress to their life – either making life busier or adding a competitive nature to the dancing.

  • Calming herbs

If we need more help calming our SNS down and ramping up the PNS then sometimes herbs will help. Simple everyday herbs such as chamomile tea and lavender oil have been shown in some trials to help with anxiety and stress. Other herbs also shown to be useful are passionflower, kava, lemon balm and valerian. Growing these herbs in your garden is also great and their plant spirits will help bring calm. Picking their flowers or leaves and placing them in your house is a lovely way to bring more of their spirits inside. Of course you can purchase teas or oils and these will help but a close connection to the actual plant brings a greater intensity of action.

I hope you can use some of these techniques to help bring a greater sense of calm to your life and lessen the stress. Just remember to work on ways to decrease the stress to begin with rather than just managing the effects of stress.

Stress and the Autonomic nervous system

This week’s blog is about stress and the autonomic nervous system and is based upon part of the book I am currently writing – How to Heal.

We are all hardwired with a two-part autonomic nervous system. Autonomic means that part of the nervous system that is not consciously directed and that is responsible for bodily functions such as breathing, heart beating, digestion etc. This autonomic nervous system (ANS) has two parts – the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is responsible for the so-called fight or flight response. It acts to quickly get our bodies ready to tackle a threat by fighting or fleeing. To do this it increases our heart rate and blood pressure. It constricts our blood vessels to route blood away from unnecessary functions such as digestion and to the skin and directs it to our muscles and brain. It opens up our airways and dilates our pupils. It also makes our hairs stand on end and causes us to sweat. The SNS promotes the release of the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline. All these actions get us ready to fight the threat or to flee (or is some cases to freeze).

The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) on the other hand is responsible for the rest and relax/digest response. Here we wind down the stress response and recharge. The PNS decreases our heart rate and blood pressure and dilates the blood vessels. Our breathing slows and our digestion increases. Our pupils constrict and our skin gets warmer (greater blood supply). The PNS causes release of the hormone acetylcholine. All these actions enable us to rest and digest or to feed and breed.

Of course, this is an oversimplification demonstrating two ends of the spectrum. The two parts of the ANS work together to keep our bodily functions balanced. We need both systems in balance. The trouble is in Western society the SNS is often in overdrive and the PNS is in under drive. While we don’t have the physical threats such as lions and tigers we have perceived threats and emotional and mental stress that trigger the fight or flight response. This causes a continual release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, the activating hormones that keep us on edge and lead to chronic over stimulation. This can lead to increased levels of cortisol and a cascade of physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, increased breathing, digestive problems and sweating. All of these are the same as when we are in a physical threatening situation yet when it is a chronic situation with no balance from the PNS we get anxiety and physical issues.

This week I will write about decreasing our sympathetic drive and next week I will write about increasing our parasympathetic drive.

How to decrease sympathetic drive – fight or flight

To decrease the sympathetic drive we have to examine our lives and make changes. Easier said than done. We need to look at everything in our life and try to make the changes that decrease our exposure to stress. This includes exposure to stress in its various forms – physical, emotional and mental. We need to decrease this exposure as much as we can. There are some simple ways we can do this.

  • Slow down, take more time to do things

Slowing down is against our western nature but is one way to decrease our SNS drive. In particular slow down when you’re eating; don’t make it a race to finish your meal. Pay attention to the eating and savour the food. This will help you digest better as activation of the SNS causes blood to be shunted away from the gut and the digestive processes. Taking time to eat helps the digestion.

Taking life more slowly generally will help deactivate the SNS. Avoid having to rush to get places; leave more time than you need so that you don’t become stressed.

  • Don’t multitask, do one thing at a time

Doing one thing at a time naturally slows us down and lets us be more mindful of the task at hand. Trying to do more than one thing at a time will leave you feeling pressured and increase your stress.

Do one thing at a time and pay attention to what you are doing. Be mindful of the task at hand then move onto the next task. If you’re feeling stressed by all you have to do make a list and prioritise and then tackle one task at a time.

  • Do less

Our lives can just be too busy. I remember one year when my kids were younger we were having a very busy year and Christmas was approaching. The silly season loomed over me like a monster with event after event we had to attend. Or I thought we had to attend them all. And then the kids got chicken pox and we weren’t able to attend all the events. No one cared that we had missed them all and our Christmas ended up being much less stressful. After that I consciously made the decision each year to wind back the Christmas activities and spend more time at home. Even now I try to avoid all the Christmas busyness and too many parties and instead spend time with close friends and family.

Start saying no to things you don’t want to do. Try to let go of the busy life and replace it with more relaxing time. Let go of doing and spend more time just being.

  • Avoid stimulants

If you’re too busy and stressed out then avoiding stimulants will help down regulate the SNS. Caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines or other stimulants will rev up the SNS and put you into overdrive. For many of us we take stimulants to combat a lack of sleep and relaxation and to do more than we should be doing. Ease back on busyness and the need for stimulants decreases.

  • Avoid excessive exercise

While moderate exercise can switch on the PNS and tone down the SNS, excessive exercise will fire up the SNS. If you are suffering from burn out or if stress is becoming a problem and you are an over exerciser then winding back the intensity of exercise may help. For those people who are not suffering from too much stress then excessive exercise may not be a problem but it may pay to use some of the ‘rest and relax’ techniques to help balance the body.

  • Sleep more

Sleep is the time when our bodies wind down and relax and repair. Getting enough sleep is really important and if we are highly stressed it is even more crucial. 8-9 hours is optimal and being asleep between 10 pm and 2 am is best for restorative sleep.

Stay tuned for next week’s blog where I will write about increasing our parasympathetic drive.

How to Heal – update

I really love living on an island and the last few days have been such glorious weather that the beach constantly beckons. Not only have we had clear blue skies and beautiful sunshine but we have the added attraction of whales visiting our waters.

I’ve been spending time outside both at the beach and in the garden and I can feel it doing me good. Sometimes, in winter especially, I spend too much time indoors and forget that I need to ground myself to the earth.

So feeling well grounded this week I’ve started writing again. My current project – How to Heal – has been on hold for a couple of months and although I have been trying to write it just hasn’t been flowing. This has mainly come about because a good friend of mine died in April. Dave was one of my best friends and although he lived in Queensland we regularly spoke and messaged each other. He was always on hand to read my writing and give me feedback and I will miss him tremendously. So I’ve been struggling with Dave’s death and the presence of coronavirus and at the same time have been busy starting a new medical practice. All of this has contributed to my lack of progress on How to Heal.

Earlier this year I had been blogging about my writing and publishing excerpts of the book but with my lack of writing the blog posts have also dried up. But I’m back into it now so I hope the blogs will become more regular.

Of course coronavirus has been foremost in all our lives and its presence has also changed the direction of How to Heal in various ways. Initially the book was just about how people can heal on an individual level from disease and illness. It addresses various ways that can increase our natural healing ability such as paying attention to our symptoms, our feelings and our intuition; by addressing lifestyle factors such as diet, sleep and exercise; and using herbs and various other techniques to promote healing.

Coronavirus made me question what I had been writing and I had to look at the bigger picture of how we had been mistreating our planet. Isolation meant more time for reflection and contemplation. The book has expanded from looking just at healing on an individual level to how we might help heal the larger system – society and our planet. And how Earth can help heal us. And grounding ourselves to the Earth is one great way to improve our health. So in my next blog I will write more about grounding and some of the science behind its health benefits.

My most recent book – Tools for Transformation – is still available as a free download when you sign up to my newsletter at www.drcarolhead.com.au

Our new practice


Mel Rose (nurse practitioner) and Dr Carol Head (general practitioner) are pleased to announce that they are joining forces to fill the gap in health care on Phillip Island. 

Our practice, Phillip Island Health, will be located at Phillip Island Sport and Rehab at 207 Settlement road, Cowes and will provide holistic health care. We will provide general medical care and our services will expand over time. We will not be providing care for emergencies or acute illness/injuries. Our special interests include chronic disease management, wound management and preventive health strategies. Dr Carol will also provide her laser acupuncture service.

Our services will include a home visiting service once the immediate threat of the coronavirus pandemic eases, bringing back the old style house calls. We will also provide face-to-face consultations and Telehealth.

From Wednesday May 6th Melanie will be providing face to face and telehealth consultations at the practice at 207 Settlement road, Cowes and Carol will provide telehealth consultations via video conferencing or telephone.  

Melanie will be available Wednesdays from 9am to 5pm and Saturday mornings. Carol will be available Monday afternoon and Tuesday and Thursday mornings for telehealth consultations. She will begin a regular laser acupuncture session in June.

With the threat of coronavirus still a concern we are very aware of the need to keep face-to-face consultations safe for everyone involved. Patients will be required to wait in their cars to be seen at the clinic and will be temperature screened prior to the consultation. If patients are febrile or have symptoms of Covid19 (sore throat, cough, aches and pains), they will be referred to the HUB for testing.

Face to face and tele-health services will be bulk-billed for everyone at this stage.

For house calls there will be a $30 out of pocket fee. The full fee will be payable at the time of consultation with Medicare rebates available. Pensioners will be bulk billed.

We are both very excited to provide this service to our community.

We can be contacted via telephone – 0478 483 389 or by email for appointments at this stage – drcarolhead@gmail.com

Online bookings will soon be available on our website – www.phillipislandhealth.com.au

Coronavirus

I have returned early from my locum in Broome due to the coronavirus and possible implications for travel. I didn’t want to get stuck in Broome or be away from my family and friends. My parents are elderly and at risk and I wanted to see them and convince them to stop their social activities for the time being. It’s good to be back home.

What can we do to stay healthy?

  1. Stay at home. This is the number one for a reason; this reduces transmission of the virus. Only go out for essentials – food and work (work from home if you can). If you do go out stay two metres away from other people.
  2. Hand washing and hand sanitising – this is especially important if you go out but should be part of your normal routine.
  3. Eat as healthily as you can. This may be hard if there is less access to fruit and vegetables but a good diet can help boost the immune system.
  4. Stop smoking. The complications of coronavirus seem to be worse in smokers.
  5. Supplements – I suggest Vitamin C (1000mg), Zinc (20-40mg) and Vitamin D (1000IU, unless you know your vitamin D is low in which case take more). These are all essential for the immune system.  Zinc lozenges have been shown to reduce cold symptoms so if you get sick try to use these if you can get some and take more Vitamin C. Of course if you have iron or B12 deficiency it’s important to supplement these as well. A general multivitamin may help if your diet isn’t too good.
  6. Herbs. Your local naturopath or health professional can suggest herbs that boost the immune system. We don’t know if any herbs can target coronavirus but no doubt there will be some. In the meantime I am taking an immune booster that contains Astragalus and olive leaf.
  7. Exercise is still important and we can do home routines – there are many options on the Internet. For the moment we can also go for walks, runs or cycles if we stay two metres away from people and don’t touch surfaces that may be contaminated.
  8. Be kind to yourself. This is an opportunity to take life more slowly and look after ourselves. We can start new creative projects, learn to play that guitar in the cupboard, plant a vegie garden, play board games as a family, prepare meals more mindfully. Look after yourself in whatever way you think will help.
  9. Be kind to others. Life will shrink back to family and close friends and our local community. We will have to look after each other as best we can and if we approach this crisis with love and kindness instead of fear we will come through this together.
  10. Be present. Take time each day to find gratitude for what we have. Enjoy the sunrise or sunset. Reflect on what this pandemic is asking of us all. Don’t give into the fear.
  11. Connect with the spirit of the earth. Sit on the grass or on the beach. Walk barefoot. Garden if you can. Watch the weather, the sunrise and sunset, the stars at night, the moon cycles. Contemplate what the earth needs from us.
  12. Prepare for change. Like any major world event this pandemic will bring about great changes to our way of life. Let’s all work together to make those changes positive. How can we look after the earth better? How can we look after our communities better? How can we be more loving towards ourselves and others?

We are at a turning point and we can only hope that we rise to the occasion and not descend into panic and chaos. We can each take personal responsibility for this. Let’s live our best lives in this time of uncertainty and do what we can to help others. Let’s pull together as a community and not give into fear. Let’s choose to love.

Stay safe

Carol

Shifting paradigms

I’m into my second week in Broome and thankfully have settled in. I’ve got more used to the heat and the humidity and finished a week’s work in the clinic. The staff and patients are lovely and very welcoming and have helped me understand the processes and how to tackle their computer system.

I’ve been doing the touristy things including looking at the pearls. I did a tour of Willie Creek pearl farm yesterday and although it was very hot I enjoyed the drive through the local country to get there. It was a very rough track but eventually we arrived at Willie Creek where we were shown how they culture pearls and taken on a boat cruise up the creek. We didn’t see any of their resident crocodiles but were told they will be there somewhere. The pearls were beautiful with a lovely lustre but quite expensive so I haven’t bought any yet.

For the last few weeks I haven’t been writing much of my book How to Heal Yourself. I have been reflecting on what I have written and rearranging bits of the book to make more sense. I am about halfway through the writing of the first draft and of course it has taken longer than I hoped. It’s changed a bit from a scientific look at how to heal to much more of an holistic view of healing. I thought I needed to back up everything I wrote with science but then I realised that is the old paradigm and the old way of thinking. We are moving towards a new paradigm that doesn’t necessarily need scientific studies to prove something works. Instead we trust the innate wisdom of our own body, mind and spirit to lead us on our healing journey.

The old Western scientific paradigm needs to be replaced by new ways of thinking and being. We need to begin to view everything holistically. This means we look at the whole person and their connections with everyone and everything. Any illness or disease is pointing the way towards greater wholeness and if we can navigate towards this we can heal ourselves.

Of course my first book Holistic Medicine – beyond the physical is all about this process but as I am so socialised into the Western scientific paradigm I keep having to remind myself of the importance of holism. I have to make sure I frame what I write within this holistic paradigm rather than from the old paradigm. And this is hard for all of us because we still live in a society dominated by the old mechanistic, reductionist paradigm. But the shift is happening and as more of us begin to view life holistically and live within this framework we will influence others around us. As more and more people change their viewpoint and way of living the general worldview will begin to shift. How to Heal Yourself is therefore a book about shifting paradigms on a personal level. It will help people heal but this will also affect the general shift towards a more holistic world view. I’m excited to be writing this book and hope it will help many people.

My new book Tools for Transformation will be launched on March 30th. It’s a bit later then planned due to various changes I had to make during the publishing process. It will be available as a free eBook to people who subscribe to my email list or paperback copies can be purchased via my website or via online booksellers.

Broome

I’ve arrived in Broome to do a four-week locum at the Aboriginal Medical Service here. I arrived a few days ago and have found it a little challenging to adapt to the different climate and to the relative isolation. It has been hot and steamy with frequent thunderstorms. The high humidity is typical of the wet season and it’s a bit like being in a sauna.

I haven’t started work yet although I had orientation on Friday, which was a bit overwhelming with a complicated computer system and what looks like a busy clinic. I’ve been reading up on common conditions that I will encounter – ear and eye infections, skins infections, rheumatic heart disease and renal problems. Most of these are less common in Victoria and the treatment is often different. I discovered I knew one of the locums who is finishing up; we went to school together. So we have caught up a couple of times before she left and she filled me in on what I needed to brush up on. It’s an odd synchronicity to meet up with her again.

I’ve spent the last two days exploring Broome, between rain showers and thunderstorms. Cable beach is lovely but you can’t swim there in the wet with stingers and Irukandji lurking. There was a crocodile sighted at the Town beach last week so I’m a bit wary of even walking on some of the beaches! I’ve walked around town and it’s pretty quiet, not tourist season at the moment.

I find it is a bit weird to be up here alone and not know anyone. My usual network of friends and family are far away and although I can ring or text it’s not the same as face to face contact. I find myself reflecting on how much support I usually have and how when it’s not right there I start to feel a bit anxious. But then I remember why I have come – to have a bit of adventure and get out of my comfort zone, to experience a different culture and to hopefully make a small difference. I begin to trust again that I am looked after by the universe and that my inner self will take care of things that my logical brain cannot. And I relax into the experience. I begin to trust the process of my life again.

I haven’t done any book writing for a couple of weeks but hope to do some for next week’s blog post.

My new book Tools for Transformation will be launched on March 30th. It’s a bit later than planned due to various changes I had to make during the publishing process. It will be available as a free eBook to people who subscribe to my email list or paperback copies can be purchased via my website or via online booksellers.

Healing Earth

I have just spent over a week in Halls Gap doing some locum work. It is such a beautiful place with lovely native bush and so much wildlife. We would sit outside on our veranda and watch the currawongs, magpies and cockatoos as they came to visit. The blue wrens would occasionally make an appearance too but they can be shy.

Sometimes the kangaroos would graze in the yard and some adolescent emus would wander down the road. My daughter scared a snake in the yard and it took off towards the bush, probably as terrified of her as she was of it.

On our walks we saw more kangaroos and emus and the occasional echidna wandering along the track. The bush was dry but incredibly beautiful with tall eucalypts and grassland eaten down by the kangaroos. Climbing further up the rocky hills the understory thickened and the wallabies plunged away into the scrub as we approached.

The spirit of each wild place is evident if you just take a moment to feel and connect with it. And we need to take the time to connect with this spirit that permeates the earth. This is the only way we can begin to heal the earth from the damage we have done. We have to become part of her spirit again. We have to live within nature rather than battle against her. We have to regain our deep connection with the land and ask ourselves what we need to do to help the healing that needs to happen.

It is tempting to turn to Indigenous wisdom for answers and this will certainly help but the connection with the earth energies has to happen on a personal basis. We need to feel with our hearts the spirit of the earth and then we realise we are all one larger system. We are part of the earth and we can no longer afford to believe that we are separate and in control. We cannot reduce the problems we are facing to little bits. We need to view it holistically and to do what we need to become part of the system. Becoming part of nature again rather than trying to control everything.

As we lean into the earth and connect our heart with hers we can begin to know what she needs from us in order to help the system heal. For some this is healing on a personal level from the illnesses our separation has shaped; we come back to ourselves. For others it is work that supports the earth rather than destroys her. For many it will mean turning away from consumerism and towards more self-reliance. For most of us it will mean a radical shift in the way we think about the world. Our beliefs about how the world works need to change.

Go out in nature and open your heart to the connection we all need to make our lives meaningful. We need to connect with the earth to heal ourselves and the earth needs our hearts to help her heal. We will not succeed in this by thinking about it but rather by feeling out the way. By feeling what we each can do to make a difference. This inner knowing of how to help can come to us in dreams or visions, as sounds or sights or feelings. When we connect with the earth energies we open ourselves up to experiences beyond thinking that can help forge new directions. We just need to stop thinking with our heads and start living from the heart, opening ourselves up to the greater wisdom of the earth and being present to our true selves.

I haven’t been writing my book this past week because I wasn’t sure which direction to take. So I’ve been reading some great books by Stephen Harrod Buhner and doing some yoga and working. And I feel like the book needs some reworking so this week’s blog took on a life of it’s own. It sprang from my spending time with earth energies and realising that if I am open I will write what I need to write. What I write doesn’t have to fit into a western medical paradigm but is actually a different way of looking at our health and illness. I keep coming back to the holistic view.

My new book Tools for Transformation is almost ready and the ebook version will be available free on signing up to my email newsletter. Look out for this in the next few weeks.

If you would like to buy a copy of my book – Holistic Medicine, Beyond the Physical – copies are available on my website for $30 including postage in Australia.

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land on which I work and live.

How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 5

Look after the physical – diet, detoxification and fasting.

This week’s blog is about Chapter 5 of How to Heal Yourself. This chapter is about diet and includes a discussion of detoxification and fasting practices. What follows are some of the ideas I have around detoxification; which is a process our bodies undertake naturally.

Detoxification occurs all the time and we don’t need special diets to detox our system, or coffee enemas, or laxatives. The system works best when we support it naturally. The best ways to support it naturally are as follows:

  1. Limit alcohol and other drugs – alcohol and drugs are mostly metabolised by the liver. Too much alcohol can be metabolised to acetaldehyde, which is toxic to the body. If you are stressing your liver with alcohol and drugs then it will not be detoxifying other potential toxins as efficiently.
  2. Drink enough water – this helps the kidneys eliminate wastes and also helps with loss of toxins through sweating and breathing.
  3. Get plenty of sleep – we naturally detoxify and restore ourselves while we sleep so getting 8-9 hours a night will help.
  4. Reduce intake of sugar – high sugar intake can lead to fatty liver and diabetes. Fatty liver can lead to decrease in the natural detoxification pathways.
  5. Reduce intake of processed foods, artificial colourings and preservatives – most processed food contains chemicals
  6. Eat more vegetables and fruit – these have natural antioxidants and lots of vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants help clean up free radicals in your body, which can lead to degenerative diseases. Vitamins and minerals are needed for the metabolic pathways in the liver and other organs that help detoxify chemicals.
  7. Decrease the load of chemicals on the body. Switch to natural cleaning products to decrease your exposure to toxic chemicals. Avoid pesticides and herbicides in the garden and try to eat organic food where possible.
  8. Switch to natural personal care products – products that you put on your skin should be as natural as possible to decrease the load of chemicals in your body.
  9. Sweating is a good way to help get rid of many toxins. Exercise is a good way to sweat more or you can choose to use saunas to increase the process
  10. Fibre in the diet will help bind toxins that are waiting to be excreted in the bowel. Sometimes these toxins can be reabsorbed through the bowel wall but if we have plenty of fibre this will help excrete more of the toxins. Eating plenty of vegetables helps but we can supplement with things such as psyllium husks.

My next blog will be on Chapter 6 – Look after the physical – clean living

If you would like to buy a copy of my book – Holistic Medicine, Beyond the Physical – copies are available on my website for $30 including postage in Australia.

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land on which I work and live.

How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 4

Pay attention

This week’s blog is from chapter 4 of How to Heal Yourself and is about paying better attention to our parts and their messages in order to heal and live whole. The following is an excerpt.

In our journey to healing we need to pay attention to our whole self. This is hard to do because we are so used to living in a semi trance state and not paying attention to our lives. We let ourselves coast along and forget that our bodies are designed to help us find our way. In Holistic medicine – Beyond the Physical I explained more fully how to pay attention to our parts. I used the metaphor of each of us being composed of earth, fire, air, water and ether and described how we can pay better attention to each part.

Earth is our physical body and we pay better attention to this by looking at the meanings behind our symptoms and illness and also looking after the physical body better with good diet, exercise and sleep.

Fire is our intuition, our passions and our creativity and when we pay these more attention we find more joy in our lives.

Air is our rational logical thinking mind. Too often we pay this part of ourselves too much attention but we do need to listen to our logic in combination with our intuition; we need to pay attention to both.

Water is our feelings and emotions and by paying attention to these we find ways to deal with the issues in our lives.

Ether is the energy connections that bring about the signs and synchronicities that help us on our way.

 So when we pay attention to the five elements – earth, fire, air, water and ether our lives become easier. It’s like we have a road map on how to live. Our soul and spirit are in charge and they let us know what to do and what we need through our five elements. As we get better at paying attention to all our parts we begin to live a life centred upon the needs of our soul and spirit. It’s a new way of living so it takes some practice and perseverance but as we pay more attention we get better at it. It’s a paradigm shift from the Western reductionist way of thinking and being to a holistic way of thinking and being. Holism is the theory that all our parts are intimately connected and they cannot exist independently. We cannot understand the parts of ourselves as completely separate from the whole and the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

Everything in our lives has a meaning beyond what is just the physical meaning.

My next blog will be on Chapter 5 – Look after the physical.

If you would like to buy a copy of my book – Holistic Medicine, Beyond the Physical – copies are available on my website for $30 including postage in Australia.

I acknowledge and pay respect to the Elders and Traditional Owners of the land on which I work and live.