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.

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

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.

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 3

Use your intuition

This week’s blog is on Chapter 3 of How to Heal Yourself and is about using our intuition. 

Our intuition is one of our greatest gifts, which helps point us in the direction we need to go in in order to promote healing. We can use our intuitive skills to help us decide what treatments we use, what lifestyle changes we make and how we might change our lives in order to optimise our healing. Yet many of us ignore our intuition in favour of logic and rational thought. 

Intuitive thinking is unlike logical thinking; it doesn’t always make sense. It can bring us answers in flashes of inspiration or come about through signs and synchronicities. We don’t always believe intuitive answers because they don’t necessarily make logical sense. They appear from our right brain without a logical train of thought. The left brain thinks in a linear way, one thought leading to another to another and sometimes to a conclusion. But the right brain thinks in pictures and patterns and has sudden inspirations and ideas. 

These sudden ideas that come to us are worth following.

Intuition happens all the time if we pay attention to it. We just have to follow the leads it throws up and we begin to find answers to our problems that we hadn’t been able to find with our logical and rational brain. Of course we don’t get rid of our logic; we can use it to look at things in a rational and methodical way in concert with our intuitive thinking. We use both together and find our path.

We need to research and find answers that lead us on the best path to healing. This is done by using our rational brain to look at the information in a logical way but also by following intuitive hunches about how to improve our health. Health is such an individual thing because no two people are alike and an illness is an individual experience. It is a dis-ease of our body that we need to pay attention to and work out our own individual path to healing.

Intuition comes in varying forms and most of us have a preferred method of intuition. The four main methods of intuition are clairvoyance (clear seeing), claircognisance (clear knowing), clairaudience (clear hearing) and clairsentience (clear feeling). Each uses a different sense to convey intuitive information.

Our intuition is like an inner guidance system. It lets us know when we are on the right path and when we are not. It’s not just the right side of the brain but our gut and our feelings. They all connect to provide us with an inner guide. This inner guide is connected to spirit and soul. It knows what is best for us. Yet often we don’t pay it enough attention. We listen to our logical thinking when we need to listen to our inner guide instead. Whether it is through seeing or hearing, knowing or feeling we need to get used to paying attention to our intuition. We need to trust and follow it. 

This chapter includes ways to pay attention to and follow our intuition better. Next week’s blog will be on Chapter 4 which is all about paying attention to body, mind and spirit..

How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 2

Choices – Conventional versus alternative therapies.

This week’s blog is about how we can make better treatment choices. It summarises Chapter 2 of How to Heal Yourself. We can explore both conventional and complementary therapies in order to supplement our own natural healing ability. Healing comes from within but in many cases we use conventional medical drugs or surgery as well as alternatives such as herbs and energy healing.

I am a medical doctor so I use conventional treatment strategies all the time with my patients but I also offer alternative strategies when they have been shown to work. This chapter on choices explores how we might decide if a treatment works or not based upon scientific principles. 

As I was writing about choices I found myself getting a bit too technical and scientific. But science has a prominent place in working out whether a particular treatment in useful or not, and whether the side effects are acceptable in terms of benefit. This chapter turned out to be very much about logic and rational thinking. Looking at the pros and cons of a particular treatment in a rational way. Of course logic and the left side of the brain always need to be balanced by the right side of the brain and intuition so I had to reorganise the structure of the book. I decided the next chapter would have to be about intuition and how important that is in judging what methods we follow in order to maximise our healing.

I am currently rewriting Chapter 2 to try and make it more readable; the first draft was a bit dry and scientific. I explore in some detail how we can use scientific research to make more informed decisions about treatment options. I discuss the use of Evidence Based Medicine (EBM) and how we can apply its principles to help decide whether to pursue a particular treatment.

The chapter concludes with the three main ways you can make better choices about your health. 

The first is to become an expert on your disease. No-one is going to be more invested in your own healing than you, are so take advantage of this. Learn everything you can about your disease and the possible treatments for it. Delve into the scientific literature if you’re able or simply ask your health professional a lot of questions. 

The second way is to be an expert on your self. You know your body, mind and spirit better than anyone or at least you have that potential. Become the expert on yourself – pay attention to all your parts and interpret the messages from your inner self in order to work out the best path to healing. The rest of the book will help you pay better attention to what you need.

The third way to make better choices is to pay more attention to your intuition which is you inner knowing. Your intuition tells you what you need and this inner guidance will not let you down. The next chapter will explore paying attention to your intuition in a lot more detail.

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

Disclaimer. This blog is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.

How to Heal Yourself – Chapter 1

Responsibility for your own Health

Well it’s the New Year and I’m enacting one of my resolutions, which is to write a blog each week. This week in How to Heal Yourself I have been finishing off  Chapter 1 – Responsibility for your own Health. This chapter is about the first phase in healing from any illness, which is to take responsibility for your own health. Too many people give away their responsibility to other people; to doctors or other health professionals. They follow treatment plans that they have no real idea about because they trust their doctor. But ultimately healing is done from within, not by external forces, so we must be responsible for all the factors that affect our health. This does not mean we don’t use conventional treatments it just means we take charge of our management and don’t just blindly follow along.

Responsibility means being both responsible and accountable for our own health and healing. Some definitions include being to blame but I don’t feel this is a helpful way to look at disease. Our lifestyles may be to blame for our illness but mostly we do the best we can in our lives. Blaming ourselves or others for our illness is not very productive. I like to look at it as being accountable. This means that we look at all the possible reasons why we might have become sick and try to change. It means we take account of the whole of our lives and seek to heal not only the physical body and the mind but also our soul and spirit. We can look at our lives and our situation in a holistic way and take steps to become responsible for our own healing. That means making changes that give our body the best chance to heal.

If you’ve read my other books you will know that I believe that our inner self, our soul, is the authentic self and through our soul we have a connection to universal spirit. When we connect with our inner self or soul we can better channel source energy and become the person we are meant to be. And this source energy, which is the energy of life, helps us heal. Much of the work of healing is about increasing the flow of energy from source through our soul to our body and mind. It is about being the person we are meant to be and this brings about healing on all levels.

The responsibility we have is to get in touch with our own soul and spirit and work in ways that enhance the flow of healing energy within our bodies and minds. We have to become accountable to ourselves for what we do to our body, mind and spirit. We cannot blame anything external to ourselves for our illness or disease; we must take the responsibility ourselves. We must do the inner work that brings our soul’s presence on to centre stage. We are ultimately responsible for making sure we live a life that is centred on our soul’s needs.

When we get sick we often feel out of control, plunged into chaos. Disease and illness destabilise our sense of control and solidity. We feel adrift from our life, as we knew it, especially if it is a serious illness. We may feel as if our bodies have let us down.

The feeling of loss of control is common with many illnesses and it often causes us to question everything. Indeed I believe this is one of the purposes of serious illness in our lives. It helps us question the life we had been living and encourages us make changes that bring about a better life. We can choose to not make the changes and let our illness be in control. Or we can become responsible both for the illness and our own healing.

I have been thinking about the steps we might take in order to take more responsibility for our own health. I think the first one is to learn to trust ourselves better. We need to trust that our bodies can heal and to follow along with our deep knowing about the best ways to heal. We need to trust our own body, mind and soul and its amazing capacity to heal given the right conditions. We simply have to trust that this is so and work out what the right healing conditions are on an individual basis. 

The second step is to trust the process of life and understand that illness has a deeper meaning for each of us. The changes we make that lead to our physical healing also lead to deeper healing and transformation. The transformation is ultimately about becoming our authentic selves and living a soul centred life.

The third step in taking responsibility is to make conscious decisions about our life and treatment plans rather than getting caught up in the machine that is illness and conventional medicine. If we don’t consciously make decisions about our life then they will be made anyway so we need to get conscious about it. 

The fourth step is to regain a sense of control and that is what the whole book is about – how to regain control of our lives in a conscious way in the midst of our illness.

My next blog will be about Chapter 2 – Choosing between Treatments. I am currently struggling with this chapter and finding it difficult to write but I think it is important to look at how we might choose between various treatment options for our illness.

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2020.

Carol

How to Heal Yourself – Introduction

I’ve just finished a GP locum stint in Bairnsdale and now I’ve got some time off to write. Yay! My eBook – Tools for Transformation is at the publishers and should be ready in the New Year. I’ve already started my next book, which is called How to Heal Yourself. I plan to really concentrate on it over the next few months and will have the first draft finished by February 2020. Each week I will blog about how I am going and what I am writing about. It may just be a weekly up date or if I am writing a lot it may be twice a week. 

How to Heal Yourself covers very practical ways in which any person can create the right environment to help themselves heal. Healing is a natural process yet many of us have forgotten this. I will outline lifestyle changes that anyone can make in order to be healthier. Once we create the right environment in our body, mind and spirit we enhance our healing capacity.

This doesn’t mean we don’t use conventional medicine to help in our healing; we use every resource we can find. Both conventional and complementary medicines provide therapies that help the body heal. But we can help the body even more by making lifestyle changes.

The lifestyle changes we make are not just on a physical level but also on an emotional, mental and spiritual level. As we take responsibility for our own health and healing we can transform our lives.

The changes I suggest come about from my reading about the scientific evidence of what works for people and observing over the past thirty-five years with my patients and myself what actually helps people heal. This book will be for people with any chronic health issues who want to heal themselves on a deep level. Real holistic healing that can change lives. There are no quick fixes here but if you’re willing to step up and take a look at your whole life this book will transform the way you look at life and health. 

I will write about how you can take responsibility for your own health and how you might choose between different treatments, conventional or alternative. There will be a chapter on how to release and process your emotional baggage and one on paying better attention to your thinking. I will look at how you can pay more attention to your life and your intuition and then determine what steps you need to take on your healing journey. I explore how deepening your connections with people in your life and with the earth will help you. I will look at how determining your life purpose and following your creativity can help with healing. I help you to look at your life in a holistic way so that you enhance your body’s natural healing ability.

I hope you enjoy the weekly blogs.

Stay tuned for information about receiving your free copy of Tools for Transformation.

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.

Disclaimer. This blog is for research and entertainment purposes only. The information given in this site is not intended to replace a therapeutic practitioner relationship.