In our society, which has become more dominated by screens, image is a big deal. It’s not just the realm of celebrities, performers, and athletes these days. Image affects all of us in today’s world. How we portray our lives and selves to others can become such an influential part of daily living that it can affect how we treat our bodies, health, and those close to us. Image can impact both physical and mental health in ways that can eventually lead to chronic health issues and take us farther away from what we want in life.
What is image? Image is typically what we want others to see despite what we’re feeling underneath or what is truly going on in our lives. We all have an image, and that in and of itself is not a bad thing. Image, or persona, can help create healthy boundaries between ourselves and our environments, including other people. That bit of distance helps us have space and privacy where we need it. Everyone doesn’t need to know everything. What becomes dangerous is when image evolves into more of a lie that we even start believing when we’re alone.
We may want to believe that we’re perfect, and try to show that to others instead of facing fears that are surfacing. These days, you may also notice social and media-induced peer pressure to show happiness to ourselves and to the world, even when we’re feeling sad, angry, disappointed, or some other feeling instead. The idea of image can then start to encroach on personality and even become who we are to some extent, often to the detriment of our physical and mental health. The pull to be immune and safe in this world using an artificial image is something each person goes through at times.
Image is a tool that can be helpful in the roles we play at work and in life, when it is mostly in tune with who we are already. When it instead plays a more suppressive role in blocking out real emotions, thoughts, and expressions of who we are, it can also naturally suppresses health, hormones, neurotransmitters, and our personalities. It can become a cage in which we live with our unacknowledged fears and emotions.
The price of image overtaking who we are can be costly. Yet, it’s okay to admit this and honestly look at what image you’re showing to others, and ultimately to yourself. We live in a culture where image too easily becomes everything, and many people are dissatisfied with this way of living. Even when image affects health and stifles life, it can still be an addictive thing to pursue. However, if you remind yourself of what you really want in life, it can become easier to see how the image you’re portraying might be blocking that. And then you can ask, what benefit is image really bringing to your life?
You know who you are, so what price are you willing to pay for image?
Medicine can get lazy, that’s a fact. While research and technological advances in medicine are happening everyday, the nuts and bolts of a doctor’s appointment don’t always reflect the benefits of this work. Yet, the doctor’s appointment is where healing should start taking place. Too often, patients are given the run around through differing diagnoses, put through batteries of tests, given discouraging messages about their health, and sparked with fear toward their own bodies. What can we do when medicine gets lazy and fearful?
Health is not meant to be built around fear, so the first step toward supporting your body and well-being is to question and debunk the fear tactics used toward you in a doctor’s office, if you do encounter them. It’s not a common topic of conversation, but medicine is both a business and an institution in many cases, and therefore will have its own agenda that doesn’t always take into account how you’re feeling. At the same time, we’re told to see medical establishments and the providers working there as an authority over our health.
You can see the conflict of interest that can arise in this setup. If you are told that you are helpless without a specific pharmaceutical drug, that lab results define everything about your health, or that your health is somehow a burden and nuisance, it’s time to take a step back from the medical system and get back in touch with your body and how you want to feel in it. You can still seek advice and second opinions from trusted health professionals, but recognize yourself as an authority on your health too. After all, you’re the only one living your life and in touch with your body on a daily basis.
Next, don’t wait until a doctor’s appointment to pay attention to your health, daily habits, and how you’re feeling. Your body gives you signals and clues on a daily basis as to where you can show more care to yourself and how you’re feeling. How you’re feeling means not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally. Suppressed experiences, emotions, and thoughts are a leading source of chronic symptoms and fatigue, and often apathy about life in general.
Today’s medical system often does not get at the underlying roots of how you’re feeling on a mind-body level. However, you can do this type of investigation of your health on your own. When you try this approach, you’ll be employing preventive health measures that can help you feel better, avoid excessive symptoms, and make your health visits more effective when you do have them.
Third, stay informed. Try not to lose curiosity and the desire to learn about yourself and your health just because modern medicine doesn’t always feel like a caring or healing environment. There are resources and services out there in the medical field that will work with you and use a more educational and preventive style toward health care. However, there are also less healthy influences in medicine which can be discouraging and make you want to give up at times. Listen to yourself when these unhelpful voices enter the picture, and that way you can stay informed and educated about your options when it comes to supporting your body’s health, vitality, and longevity.
Your health is not a burden, chore, or hopeless situation and if you allow the space in your own life to acknowledge this, you will be prepared if you happen to encounter negativity and discouraging messages out in the world of medicine. You and your body possess an innate intelligence and healing potential, so communicate with it and you will find that it will respond back to you too.
TOPIC: “Holiday Diet Advice–Don’t Freak Out”
Check out the Inner Balance Winter 2015 newsletter HERE.
When you’re always looking straight ahead, it is easy to start missing out on life that you can experience around you. We all have goals, achievements, and responsibilities we’d like to reach, and lists and plans that we make. At the same time, we also have pressures and expectations, ones that can at times become unreasonable and force us forward not with real motivation, but instead with fear. There are times when we may be “doing all the right things” and going through the motions of reaching the next goal or milestone. Meanwhile, the body, nervous system, and senses–in other words, the real you–may be requesting that you simply pause to look around for a bit first.
You won’t get too behind by just stopping and checking out what’s going on in your environment. Whether it’s in your house, nature, a new place, an activity that you miss doing, or your health. When you look around, you’re acknowledging that even though there’s a path you’re following, it’s not just a straight shot arrow and instead also involves the space around you and within you.
Also, when you’re looking around you don’t always have to define what you see, form an opinion about it, post it on social media, take a picture and record it, or even tell anyone. Today more than ever, we’re tempted to do that with many things that we see or experience. The experience is enough as it is. It might just be for you.
What do you risk by not looking around from time to time? You’ll never know until you look. It may be scary to leave the path alone for a little while, for fear that you might miss out on something important. Life’s not like that though. It offers the time and space to look around, maybe not all the time or everyday, but enough that it’s worthwhile to take advantage of it. What do you see around you, that you may not have looked at for a while?
Today, many households have their own little dispensary of supplements available in the kitchen for self-care and health. If you’re one of them, look around in your cupboard where you store the bottles. Are there more than 10-15 different products that you use daily? If so, it may be time to explore whether you really need to take all the supplements and which ones make the most sense for your health. Even though supplements are used for natural health, you can still get too much of a good thing.
Natural health products are best used as a bridge in wellness and self-care. In other words, they help you get from how you’re feeling now to how you’d like to feel in your body. They can help aid digestion, clear up skin breakouts, promote quality sleep, and relieve high stress. However, when we overly rely on these products, we can miss the whole point of taking care of ourselves first and using the supplements as simply a tool or a bridge toward better health. The supplement isn’t everything, nor is it a magic solution.
Another point to consider is that we can only process so much, and we may be overworking our bodies with too many supplements. The capsules, tablets, and powders all need to be broken down and metabolized by the digestive system and liver. The mind also has to remember to take all the 10 to 20 supplements we may be requiring ourselves to take, and this checklist can even lead to stress (thereby counteracting some of the health benefits of the products).
Whether you’ve self-prescribed supplements or are taking ones recommended by one or more health providers, you can put them all out on the table and potentially simplify your routine to around 5 supplements or less. Decide which products will pack the most punch for your overall health and the organ systems that need the most support. Remember that your health will look different at various times depending on what you’re going through. Supplement routines will change along with your life circumstances and how you’re feeling.
Not sure which supplements are working, or the effect each one has on you? Try the following tips to help you choose what to keep and what to discontinue:
- Take a 1-2 week break from supplements that you’re unsure about, especially if you don’t remember why you started them in the first place. Do you feel different afterward?
- If your healthcare provider recommended the supplement(s), ask him or her which products are still relevant for your treatment. They may be able to re-evaluate what you’re taking.
- Anything expired? If a product label lists an expired date, it’s a great time to consider whether you still need to be taking it, and if so order a fresh batch.
- If you have two or more supplements that serve the same purpose, often you can narrow down to one product with that function. For example, rather than taking two adaptogen (stress relief) formulas, choose one that resonates the best with your health.
- If you have a bottle of overly large pills that you hate taking, a yucky tasting tincture or tea, or a product that involves 3 or more pills in one sitting, what a great time to reexamine whether you really need that.
Once you have around 5 products or less that you focus on for your health, see how you feel on the new routine. And with the time freed up from not having to remember 10-20 different supplements, you can take care of your health in other non-pill ways. Rest. Stretch. Take a nice moment to do nothing! Go for a walk or enjoy your favorite exercise. Listen to music, catch up on your water intake, enjoy a bath. Your body will enjoy the focused supplement routine as well as the opportunity to try new things for your health.
What will you find inside “The Art of Health”?
- A different approach toward chronic hard-to-treat symptoms
- How to pay better attention to the body and its signals
- Why chronic symptoms are often related to one another
- Tips for choosing long-term health instead of quick fixes
- The power of the mind in supporting real health
- The part that fear plays in health
- Why labels in health care can be limiting
- How to picture and live the health that you want
Check out the latest Inner Balance Health & Inspiration Newsletter by clicking on the link below:
Stress is something we all go through in life, and it often shows up on the skin as well—for many in the form of chronic acne. In the quest to cure acne breakouts, it can be tempting to spend time in front of a mirror while scolding the skin for behaving the wrong way. Hours of internet searches for acne products and fixes can further gobble up a whole day. Guess what usually happens next. Acne symptoms get worse from the increased stress of scrutinizing the skin. Stress-acne-stress-acne can become a vicious cycle. Sound familiar?
If so, next time you’re facing a breakout, try de-stressing your skin instead with these 8 tips, which to your surprise may help clear your skin in subtle, but powerful ways.
1) Picture It—That’s right, don’t keep staring at what you don’t want and instead start visualizing what you do. Close your eyes either before bed or in a comfortable seated position, take a few deep breaths, and picture the skin you want. Your imagination’s the only limit.
2) Be Kind—If you’re in the habit of attacking pimples with harsh products, instead try something that’s kinder on your face. Go for gentle and soothing. For example, steep cucumber slices in a pitcher of water overnight (in the fridge), pour into a spray bottle, and mist skin throughout the day whenever stress builds up.
3) Don’t Freak Out—If you feel a breakout on its way, try not to freak out. The more you focus on each little breakout, you lose the forest for the trees in helping your skin calm down. The mind gets fixated on perfect skin, and since that’s not where you’re at, you’ll only feel frustration. Ask yourself, “What else is stressful or overwhelming right now, other than my skin?” Start right where you’re at.
4) Hydrate—Drink water, drink water, drink water. There is no precise recommendation on how many glasses. Just make sure you remember to hydrate for better detoxification and hormone balance. Both of these factors are important for skin health.
5) Get Good Sleep—Definitely try not to lose sleep over acne breakouts. If you’re heading into an important meeting or social event the next day, remind yourself that good sleep will help skin feel better more so than worrying what you’ll look like. Worrying never helps! Tomorrow is a new day, and it’s a good opportunity to be gentler on yourself and your skin.
6) Makeup With Your Skin—Try using natural, breathable makeup that helps you feel attractive and like you can picture better skin. The mind is a powerful tool, so makeup isn’t used to cover up so much as to allow yourself to exist and be seen. This increased confidence over time can help lower stress and actually move you toward your goal of clearer skin.
7) Don’t Forget the Body—Sometimes in focusing on the skin, we may accidentally neglect the health of the rest of the body. But good overall health helps skin! To get back into your body, you can try an easy daily routine such as dry skin brushing. It only takes 2 minutes before showers. Use a dry skin brush and gently brush skin in long strokes from extremities (arms and legs) toward the heart. Drink water afterward.
8) Talk To Yourself—Doing so is not crazy. In today’s fast-paced life full of stress, it’s especially important how you talk to yourself. Try asking yourself how you’re doing during the week, and if you feel low, don’t try and force happiness over it. Instead, be there for yourself and your skin. Yes I said it, the key is to talk to your skin more—and in ways that you’d like to be talked to.
Try practicing these 8 tips on a daily basis, and you’ll see results that you can’t find in a bottle of acne product. Most importantly, you’ll have a new relationship with your skin that promotes health and helps you enjoy being exactly who you already are.
Do you remember what you had for dinner last night? In this day and age, we can get so busy we might not remember what we ate yesterday. Women and men experience a natural decline in hormones past the age of 35, and this change can come with a decline in memory and concentration as well. Details that used to be easy to recall such as names, dates, and the location of keys can become lost in day-to-day living and cause stress. Add to the equation the sheer number of things we have to keep track of in our busy lives, and memory becomes a real challenge. These days, people even younger than 35 can experience memory issues and associated hormone imbalances. Finding which hormones are out of balance and treating the underlying roots of memory issues can help reduce stress and simplify daily living.
Hormones are in circulation not only throughout the body, but also in the brain. In fact, research has shown that common hormones including estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, and DHEA play a big part in not only mood regulation, but also memory and concentration. If you’re experiencing memory issues, it may be a sign that certain hormones are either high, low, fluctuating, or out of balance with each other. Visiting a doctor who specializes in natural hormone balancing and adrenal health can help strengthen your ability to remember.
One factor that will be important to explore is the level of stress you’re going through. Stress directly affects how hormones function in the body, and undoubtedly when stress is unaddressed or out of control, it will be harder to remember things. It can help to vocalize what the sources of stress are, and even though you can’t make stress disappear, starting an adrenal support therapy that includes adaptogenic herbs—those that help the body adapt to stress better—can help. These herbs include Rhodiola, Ashwagandha, and Holy Basil. Regular movement, relaxation, and breathing can also mediate the effects of stress on the body.
Hormone testing will help you and your doctor identify which hormones are out of balance to further support healthy memory. For example, many women with low estrogen or estrogen dominance (where estrogen doesn’t have enough progesterone to balance it) experience memory issues. They may have trouble learning or remembering new things during peri-menopause or post-menopause. Men can have a similar decline in memory stemming from low testosterone. Therapies such as bioidentical hormone replacement, botanical formulas, lifestyle modifications, and homeopathy can help each of these hormones support memory again.
What about the burden we all sometimes place on our brains to “do it all?” Today, this important factor can’t be discounted. Our minds help us do work and process emotions on a daily basis, but at times we require ourselves to remember nitty gritty details that leave the brain tired and overexerted. We have to ask ourselves whether it’s in fact important to recall so many details, even beyond what is required for practical day-to-day functioning. If you feel like details are getting the best of your days, take a step back and do some spring cleaning of your mind. Sort through the details and discover which ones can be prioritized ahead of others.
By taking a comprehensive approach consisting of hormone balance, adrenal support, and placing more realistic expectations on the mind, memory can get stronger. Memory issues can cause frustration and stress, which further challenges the memory, but try and be patient and treat the symptom just like any other health complaint (such as digestive upset or insomnia). Finding the right treatment is key, and remember to believe that you can find improvement.
The life of a teenager today is often just as busy as an adult’s, and just as stressful. With responsibilities related to school, social pressures, standardized testing, extracurricular activities, and making decisions about the future, adolescents frequently face unrelenting stress that can trigger chronic anxiety. While pharmaceutical drugs are available for treatment, they can suppress the root source of the symptoms, cause unwanted side-effects, and interfere with sleep, energy, and concentration. Natural medicine offers alternative treatments for teenage anxiety that work with the body and mind instead of against them.
To some extent, anxiety can be a normal response during times of stress. When prolonged, however, it can interfere with energy levels and make it more difficult for teens to keep up with daily living. In addition to triggering physical symptoms such as insomnia or acne, anxiety can also make it more challenging for teens to relate to family and friends, concentrate on school work, tap into natural confidence, and feel motivation. Daily life can become disrupted to the point where anxiety is the main focus in every activity and interaction.
How does stress in the life of a teenager create increased anxiety? Hormones during adolescence are already fluctuating, bringing about growth and the unique character traits and perspective that teens naturally express. Hormone fluctuations further tend to create ups and downs in mood, which is also normal. Stress exists in everyone’s life, but when it becomes unmanageable, it can affect female and male hormone levels, blood sugar control, cortisol levels (the stress hormone), and disrupt sleep that is needed for replenishing hormone levels. A teenager who is already experiencing hormone changes will experience both emotional and physical effects from unaddressed stress. Anxiety is one way the body will let a teen know that stress is getting out of hand.
The cornerstone of reducing teenage anxiety naturally lies in first acknowledging that this symptom is the body’s way of letting you know that stress is building up too high and not being properly addressed. Digestive upset, sleep issues, skin complaints such as acne, PMS, extreme mood swings, and fatigue are other symptoms that may accompany anxiety and offer signs that stress is getting out of hand. Teenagers can benefit from paying attention to the signals that their bodies are sending them, because that is the body’s way of communicating how it’s feeling.
Anxiety isn’t just a problem to fix, it’s a natural response to life’s challenges and it can actually help us feel better if we pay attention to what it’s trying to tell us about health. Teens and their parents can also visit a naturopathic or medical doctor who specializes in hormone balancing. This type of specialist can help teenagers get their hormones levels checked using simple salivary testing. Levels that are out of range can be balanced using natural supplements, botanical formulas, homeopathy, and diet and exercise recommendations.
Strengthening the adrenal glands and supporting the body’s stress response is another key to improving chronic anxiety, and while conventional medicine has no treatment for this, doctors who practice natural medicine can help with that. The adrenal glands are two organs that are located on top of the kidneys and they release cortisol in response to stress. Natural formulas that are designed to tone the adrenal glands can help the body feel stronger in response to everyday stresses. If sleep is disrupted, stress relief formulas can also help improve sleep quality and hormone balance. Practitioners who are trained in homeopathy also find success in treating teenage anxiety, as homeopathy is a medicine that sparks the body’s innate health potential.
Learning to work with anxiety rather than fighting it or trying to hide from it produces the best results toward feeling better. Remember that we all deal with anxiety, and whether you’re a teenager or a parent to a teen, it is helpful to recognize that the body has an innate healing potential during tough situations and challenges that arise. Whichever treatment you turn to, lean toward ones that support what the body naturally wants to do rather than simply suppress the symptoms. The body has a natural wisdom to it, and the anxiety is surfacing for a reason. Reading the clues it’s sending you can not only alleviate symptoms, but it can help you learn more about yourself and your health.