Magic bullets don't work, try this instead.
The Root of the Problem
We live in a society that loves quick fixes. Magic bullets. Instant gratification. We have so much to do and so much going on that we don’t want anything to slow us down, especially not illness or disease! For aches and pains we want to take a painkiller and make them go away so we can get on with the rest of our lives. And our current healthcare system is set up in a way that facilitates this need for a fast, easy remedy to our ailments.
In the model of health care practiced today, we expect to go to our doctors with problems and leave with a magic pill to cure us. Sounds like an easy fix, right? In some cases, this model definitely works. But as humans we are complex beings and rarely does a quick fix pill actually work to resolve our underlying issues especially in relation to chronic disease.
Working as a registered nurse in critical care and also long-term rehabilitation units I have seen how our healthcare system does a great job at treating acute illnesses, but fails us in a lot of ways when caring for those with longstanding chronic issues who require a more holistic approach to care. We come to our providers with a set of symptoms like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar and leave with a pill to make each one go away.
With each quick fix we mask symptoms without getting to the real root cause of what is ailing us. Think of our health as a beautiful tree. If the leaves on a tree are turning yellow, you don’t simply paint them green and pretend like nothing is wrong, but rather you go down to the roots and investigate what the real issue is. Does it need more water? Better soil? More sunlight?
In humans, our roots are things that make up our very foundations such as our diet, sleep, stress levels, exercise and even relationships. These are the things that we need to consider when we are ill or our bodies become out of balance. Sure, we can take a quick painkiller for a headache, but the only way to really resolve the headache and perhaps prevent it from occurring regularly is to get to the root cause.
Are we dehydrated? Under too much stress? Lacking sleep?
It’s only when we begin to delve into the underlying causes that we go from simply masking our pain and annoying symptoms to treating the imbalances in our bodies and setting ourselves up for optimal health throughout our life. If we continue to ignore subtle signals our bodies are giving us they can build up and manifest in real illness or disease. It’s like we are putting a lid over boiling water, and if we let it go on for too long it’s going to explode and boil over! So let’s pay attention, delve deep, and nurture ourselves before we get to that point.
Ok. So, how do we do this? The first step is to start paying attention to the subtle changes and signals our body is sending us rather than ignoring or masking them.
Here are three ways to start tuning in:
I encourage doing a Three Day Food Diary to tune into how we feel throughout the day and track our intake and symptoms.
Try something like 4-7-8 breathing which activates the relaxation response in the body and allows us to get quiet enough to hear what our bodies are trying to tell us.
Do a body scan meditation. This helps to strengthen the mind body connection and become more aware of every part of our body so we can more easily recognize when it’s out of balance.
Diving deep and investigating root causes may not be our first inclination when symptoms arise, but hopefully these little tips and trick can get you started on the process! You have all the wisdom already inside of you, it’s just a matter of remembering how to care for your beautiful body.
Christina Tidwell is a Registered Nurse and Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach. She specializes in helping individuals suffering from chronic autoimmune conditions to increase energy levels, reduce pain and inflammation in the body, and decrease stress and anxiety in order to live a more vibrant life not ruled by their disease. She believes in the power of food as medicine and that a real, whole foods diet is the key to sustained weight loss, health and happiness!