Monday, December 17, 2012

"I Should..."

First thing when you wake up in the morning, you may have various thought bubbles pop up above your head before you even get the chance to brush your teeth. What do they say? Comments that each include the word “should.” An example could be, “I should have woken up earlier today.” This is a tough way to start the day, considering you can’t go back and fix it. Or have you ever had the bubble, “I should be more positive today”? This bubble is implying that you’re already spreading your negative energy around to everyone. Getting healthy and taking care of yourself can become very annoying and difficult when riddled with these thoughts.

While the “should” thoughts may seem like they know more than you and are trying to help, a lot of times they hinder you by slowing you down and making you feel bad. There is no telling where the comment even came from. It might have floated in from a fitness magazine, your mom, or an episode of Oprah. Also, the same ones seem to pop up day after day, making you wonder why your brain hasn’t absorbed them yet so they’ll leave you alone. The truth is, maybe the “shoulds” don’t measure up compared to what you could or would do if you ignored them once in a while.

Considering that the body already takes care of itself very well on a day to day basis, consistent regret about what you are doing wrong can deter you from what you are doing right. With phrases like “I should eat more leafy greens” and “I should work out my biceps more” and hundreds of other thoughts, eventually the main point of healthiness can get lost among all the details. Health can be attained step by step, no matter how small the step, rather than a long list of health regrets.

So, should one stop using the world should? Well, that would be difficult since it’s a pretty popular word in the English language. Just remember, when you’re having a day where you’re not feeling your best or you feel stressed out by life, instead of telling yourself “I should just snap out of it” or “I should take my vitamins,” try limiting these thoughts so you can be gentle on yourself and allow space for healthiness to return naturally.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How the Story Goes

Do you ever want to fast-forward to the end of a story without enduring the hitches and hiccups it comes with? That depends. A lot of us savor the suspense involved in a good book. Or the rise and fall of music until it hits its final note. But sometimes with our health and well-being, we can be more impatient about the course of events. We may secretly want health-related miracles to happen overnight without fully acknowledging the importance of going through what we’re uniquely going through.

It’s worth it to follow the full stories of our health and who we are. Just because health may feel one way for a little while doesn’t mean it won’t change. Sometimes you just have to let it. A symptom or condition can become intricately entwined with how we see ourselves and the potential we allow ourselves to have toward getting better. Changes happen in people’s lives that affect them on both a personal and a health level. That’s why the way that each person’s health story goes is different.

What’s an example? Some people who have teenage acne will outgrow it as hormones stabilize after puberty. But this doesn’t happen for everyone and there are those who continue to deal with acne into adulthood. A person dealing with adult acne may start feeling like they are “the person with acne.” As in, wherever they go, the acne goes too. No matter what beauty products they try, prescription medications, or homeopathy, it can be very difficult to get rid of acne while being “the person with acne.”

Sometimes we have to rewrite our characters while trying to improve our health. Where we see weaknesses, it’s worthwhile to support these health systems and feel more strength. Whether we realize it or not, typecasting happens a lot in health. But what’s to say that you can’t take more part in determining how the story goes?

Say the person with adult acne puts a hand up to the typecasting and says, “Talk to the hand!” Then he or she comes up with a plan on ways to improve their skin tone. Maybe they refine their skin regimen a bit, try and relax and reduce stress, and cut down sugar and refined foods. Then the flow of this story changes a bit. These techniques could all be ones that this person has tried before, but with a different mindset toward improving the adult acne, the plan toward clearer skin has a clearer route toward success.

Sometimes with health, each of us has to start out by admitting, “Okay—I don’t know the end of the story. But I’ll do what I can.” It’s okay not to know everything. Hippocrates didn’t know everything about health either, so we can let ourselves off the hook.

Just be willing to ride the story’s ups and downs. If life is about these ups and downs, as we all know it is, then the story that health follows for each of us will contain them as well. And that’s okay. We don’t have to fast-forward to the end. Better yet, just go with it and play an active part in how the story plays out.