Today, on International Happiness Day, I am reflecting on just that - and how we can get more of it in our lives.
Being a Nutritional Therapist I see a lot of patients in my clinic that are struggling which chronic conditions - things that disrupt their lives on a daily basis and take a long time to heal. Gut problems, IBS, fatigue, psoriasis and other such conditions really take their toll mentally - and I know that from my own personal experience. It’s so hard to maintain your happiness when every day you wake up to something that makes you feel unhappy, not positive about yourself, and hating your body. Food intolerances are a classic example - it’s so frustrating when you feel like all of your friends can eat and drink what they want but you have to stay firmly in the “no fun” zone just so that you don’t exacerbate symptoms. So many people think that a food intolerance is just that, but it’s so much more complex that it looks and often plays mind tricks on you that make you lose your balance.
I like to practice something that I call Lifestyle Medicine, and that is helping people, whether they be fighting fit of dealing with something, to realise that their bodies are incredible things but that our minds are the key to unlocking our immense healing potential.
Something that’s always stuck with me that I was told by a master practitioner in Traditional Chinese Medicine is: “You have to believe that your body can heal and then it will.” It made such a difference to my journey because up until that point I thought that it was the latest supplement of diet that I was on that would make the difference, i.e. external variables, rather that the constand tool I had in my armour within me: my mind.
It is so easy to turn to negative thoughts during the day into real cause for concern, i.e. consistently elevated cortisol levels, when actually if we can learn to give in, let go and just smile it an all melt away. It usually takes place cumulatively: a slightly brisqq response on an email from your boss, spilling your ground coffee all over the kitchen when you actually need to have for work 5 minutes ago, the tube ‘being held at a red signal’ on a way to a meeting that you were going to be on time for...and before you know it you’ve been “stressed” for a couple of hours every day.
The reason this is so important is because when we are stressed our bodies are operating in what’s called our Sympathetic Nervous System; synonymous with the fight or flight response. The opposite of this is the Parasympathetic Nervous System which is the rest, digest and repaire state. In order to heal any chronic condition, and maintain good health generally, we need to be getting into this PNS state more often than we are.
Here are some of my favourite ways to reconnect with my body, calm down and heal:
- Walking in nature. I go on about the healing power of nature a lot...but just try it and you’ll see why.
- Get a mantra. This is one I never thought I’d do, but now that I’ve developed the practice I love it and I think it makes a huge difference to anyone’s life. On my morning walk I pause to say something like “I am happy, I am calm, I am stress free”, as many times as I like. It doesn’t take long but it’s amazing how much you take it on board subliminally.
- Eat food that doesn’t cause any stress on your body - i.e. organic. It’s also good to try and limit your exposure to toxins as well, pollution, chemicals (whether than be on your food or in your home by way of cleaning products etc), and chemicals on your skin from body lotions and creams.
Supplements and diet can get you so far but remember, the best medicine is always rest, peace, happiness and laughter.