Are you struggling with low back pain, headaches or another physical problem that won’t go away or keeps recurring? Or perhaps your energy levels are low or your strength has decreased? If your body has the ability to heal itself what strategies can you take to make yourself heal better?
In the first article of this series, I discussed the important concept that your body has the ability to heal itself. I followed that up with a second article where I wrote about why your body won’t heal itself. In this article, I will summarize, what lifestyle strategies you have to apply to give your body the best chance to heal better.
Manage Mental Stress
Chronic mental stress overloads your nervous system and whole body. In turn, this creates muscle and joint tension, inflammation, fatigue, lack of focus and perspective, and poor sleep. Simply put, chronic stress interferes with your body’s ability to heal itself and perform optimally.
There are many strategies to manage stress so you can heal better. Here are some ideas for you:
- Focus on getting better sleep
- Learn to say “No” to things that drain your energy
- Reframe your mind and ask, “What good things can come from this?”
- Accept that part of the human condition is having challenges and struggles
- Have faith that you will come out of these challenges better in some way
- Do something creative that fulfills you
- Move and exercise regularly
- Eat better
A deeper dive into managing mental stress:
How to Manage Your Stress (patient handout)
Poor sleep is a major stressor on your brain and body. If you’re not a good sleeper you won’t heal well. Therefore, you’re also putting yourself at risk to get sick and develop a chronic illness.
I have had issues with sleep since childhood. Until about five years ago, I used to think sleep got in the way of getting things done. When I started making sleep important, my sleep improved. As a result of my sleep improving, my moods improved and so did my daily performance and production.
Good quality sleep for 7-9 hours a night is necessary for your brain to function well and for your body to heal better. Here are some strategies I have used to improve my sleep:
- Make sleep a priority
- Eat well to stabilize your blood sugars and stress hormones
- Turn off your computer and devices two to three hours before you go to bed
- Train yourself to go to bed at the same time every night between 9 to 11pm.
- Have a warm to hot shower before you go to bed
- Invest in a good mattress
- Consider buying a weighted blanket
- Avoid alcohol before you go to bed
- Have a regular routine that is relaxing two to three hours before you go to bed.
- Keep your room temperature cooler at night (around 18 degrees celsius)
- Try taking a natural sleep supplement
- Exercise regularly
- Manage mental stress
A deeper dive into how to get better sleeps:
Exercise and Move More
It’s no secret that exercising and moving your body more regularly helps your body heal better. For example, when I see patients start to become more active, I start to see their spines become more stable and strong. As a result, most patients will get less recurrent health issues like low back pain and neck pain.
Here are some tips to start exercising and moving more:
- Pick a sport or movement activity you will enjoy so you are more apt to do it regularly
- Get a standing or tread mill desk
- Take the stairs versus elevator at work
- Take up gardening
- Go for walks in nature to make the scenery more interesting
- Start exercising slowly. Try 20 minutes per day 3 times per week. Gradually increase the time and intensity of exercise
A deeper dive into how to get exercise and move more:
Eat Whole Foods
Eating a diverse amount of whole foods will give you the majority of nutrients necessary for your brain to work well and for you to heal better. Eating whole foods means eating vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grass-fed meats, wild meat, wild seafood and fish, and free range poultry and eggs.
If you’re vegan or vegetarian you will have to take certain supplements to get nutrients you can’t get from a plant-based diet. Read this
As well, eating whole foods combats any excess inflammation (swelling) you might have in your body. As a result, your brain works better and you can heal better.
Eating whole foods also means avoiding or reducing the intake of foods that tend to cause inflammation. Foods that tend to cause inflammation are the following:
- Refined flours (bread, cereals, pasta, pizza, beer, pastries)
- Refined sugars (candy, chocolate bars, soft drinks)
- Vegetable and industrial seed oils (canola oil, safflower, soy bean oil).
Here are some strategies to start eating better:
- Throw out all of the crappy food (listed above) you have in your house so you aren’t tempted to have it when you start eating healthier.
- If you find it too overwhelming to cut out all of theses foods at once, cut out one crappy food at a time.
- Hire a holistic nutritionist to coach you through meal planning and strategies to overcome barriers that will make you cheat or fail.
A deeper dive into eating whole foods:
Chiropractic Care to Heal Better
In the last article, I discussed the important role of your nervous system in healing. Your body’s ability to heal itself is coordinated through your nervous system. Your brain and related nerves are the command centre in your body. It also coordinates everything from your movements, sensations, digestion, and your heartbeat. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense to see a specialist who helps improve the overall function of your nervous system?
Chiropractors are specialists in improving spine and nerve function. Chiropractic adjustments to your spine will help improve mobility and alignment of your spine. In turn, this will improve your nerve function to help you heal better.
Good movement and alignment of your spine are compromised in the modern world. In other words, the tension, lack of movement, and misalignments can build up in your body because of one or more of the following modern day stressors:
- too much sitting
- not enough exercise
- mental stress
- poor sleeps
- poor diet causing inflammation
Regular chiropractic care can help you adapt to modern day stressors. By improving the function of your spine and nervous system, you will be able to perform and heal better on a daily basis. Getting regular chiropractic adjustments is like rebooting your computer periodically when it starts running slowly.
A deeper dive into regular chiropractic care:
You may have noticed that all of the above strategies are intertwined. For example, you may not sleep well without eating well and exercising regularly. As well, you may not feel like exercising if you’re not sleeping well and are tired all of the time. As a result of being tired, you will be stressed more, which will cause you to crave crappy food and overeat. Through all of this, your nervous system silently gets so overloaded with these stressors that you can’t adapt anymore and you start to develop a health problem.
In other words, to get your body to adapt well, function well, and heal optimally you will have to adopt all of the strategies I mentioned.
Implementing healthy habits can be a long process and hard to overcome barriers. People often fail to carry through with their well intentioned long term health goals. For most people, I would recommend you hire a health coach or assemble a group of health practitioners that can help you achieve your health goals.
You have more power in your body than you can imagine. This means you have the ability to heal yourself and become healthy, strong, and resilient. You just have to give your body the opportunity to heal and work better. By managing stress, exercising and moving more, getting quality sleep, eating well, and getting regular chiropractic care you can become healthy strong, and resilient.