Tag Archives: health

The wisdom of listening to your body

Oh.
Hi there.
I guess I fell into a hole again.

This post has been in my queue to write up since January. I thought I would write it up not long after my trip to California. Then March happened, bringing with it a relapse of the fatigue I had last fall. It took all my energy just to get through my workdays, much less doing anything else. As it stands now, my energy is still not up to its normal levels, but I think part of that is dealing with a heavy dose of allergy issues during the past week.

However, if there is one plus to this happening, it’s that I have come to appreciate my personal philosophy of self-care even more. If it weren’t for that, and I had instead been pushing myself past my limits, I shudder to think of the possible state of my health now.

I strongly advocate for everyone to take good care of themselves, to know what their weaknesses are (for example, a big one for me is respiratory trouble), how to care for them, and overall nurturing. Self-care isn’t simply a maintenance of physical health, it’s about caring for your whole self. This also requires listening to your body, to have that awareness to know when something is out of whack. I’ve been practicing this for a long time. When I was younger, I got sick very often, and came to learn what feelings would precede a malady. If you want to do this for yourself, just start observing how you feel today. Keep taking notice. Don’t berate yourself if you forget for a while. Eventually it will become second nature.

Soli’s guide to self-care and respecting your body’s needs:
1. GET ENOUGH SLEEP!
If you’re a member of my Facebook group, you will recall that for a few weeks, I had a daily challenge/reminder to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. This is usually what I manage during the week, because I purposely wake up early and can’t get into bed any earlier than 10 most nights.
2. Prioritize
What the the necessities which need to be done in your life? Put your energy to those things. Take care of them, and when those things are done, you can think about working on the non-essentials.
3. Find assistance
One of my biggest issues. I am terrible at asking for help when I need it. Though now I will tell people around me (like co-workers) that I am running low energy or tired.
4. Be willing to say no to things
Another one which is an issue for me. This technically falls under the prioritize tag. If it’s something you need to do, do your best. If it’s voluntary, think about it very hard.
5. Take some time for yourself
The epitome of self-care. Even if you have kids to care for, try to find someone (partner, your parents, etc.) to take the kids for a while if you need a break. Do something nice for yourself. It doesn’t have to be expensive or even involve leaving the house. Take time out to give yourself a pedicure, or just find a quiet room in which to sit for a while. Let it be a time for you to recharge.

One thing I missed dearly over the past month or so has been writing regularly. I have not even been able to manage personal journaling up until recently. Writing is a bit of an addiction now, and it feels good to return. I’m not going to push myself too hard, but I am going to do my best to return here. There are some plans I want to implement as well. I hope to unveil them as the days get longer and warmer.

Do you know how to listen to your body? What do you do to care for yourself when you’re not feeling well?

Now start your week with the image of a lovely flower!

Source used under Creative Commons.

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I’m sharing this post at Monday Mania, Traditional Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, Simple Lives Thursday, Fight Back Friday, and Sunday School.

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Stocking a medicine cabient

Normally I don’t believe in making “sorry to have gone quiet” posts, but I truly did intend to put up something last week. That is, until I got hit with a major allergic reaction on Monday evening. While I have dealt with allergy issues all my life, I had reactions I’d never experienced before. Thus my energies were focused on being able to breathe properly and getting better. I still don’t know what caused the reaction, and to be honest I’m not fretting over it too much.


How I prefer to convalesce when ill. Photo from The Commons.

My usual method for recovering from any sort of illness now tends along the lines of “alternative” medicine. Having spent my youth taking a wide range of antibiotics for sinus and throat infections, antihistamines for allergies (and having them lose their effectiveness from overuse), inhalers for asthma, and STILL having those problems plague me even with the drugs, I now prefer to treat the symptoms as much as possible. Plus my health has improved enough that I don’t really need those drugs anymore. I refuse to take antibiotics because I feel they are over-prescribed, leading to the various drug-resistant bugs now making the rounds around the country. My asthma bothers me so little, it’s not worth it for me to keep an inhaler anymore. It would be close to dead before I’d need to use it. The allergies have been mending slowly as my immune system becomes stronger, though sometimes I need help on that front.

Sometimes I still get sick, or react badly to something. I try to keep remedies around the house which treat the symptoms I am most likely to deal with. Since the household currently holds just two adults who tend to be in decent health, there’s not a huge collection. I thought it would be worth sharing, to give ideas of ways to help treat illnesses at home. As always, this is not a substitute for formal medical training. I’ve found these primarily through personal research and my own trial and error.

Alternative remedies
I start with these since it’s my first line of defense.
Activated charcoal–This should be a constant in any and every home. It binds with toxic substances and keeps the body from absorbing them. Used in hospitals and drug treatment centers for people who have overdosed. It can also be used effectively against food poisoning and lesser digestive issues.
Bromelain–made from the core of pineapples, a very effective anti-inflammatory. Strangely enough, I know I need it if I am feeling ill, thinking about it, and it’s the LAST thing I want to take. This is very effective when my knee or sinuses swell up.
Elderberry syrup–Something I’ve been taking this past week. A remedy with a long history, it has strong anti-viral properties. I know a few people who make their own. If only I had an elderberry bush in my neighborhood.
Neti–I’ve done a whole post on why I am a fan of the neti pot and have used it for over a decade. If you have sinus issues with any regularity and do not use one, I suggest you stop reading right now and GET ONE. You can also replicate the method with a paper cup. Don’t be squeamish either. The minor discomfort you may have from rinsing your nose will be trivial compared to how much quicker you will recover from sinus trouble.
Melatonin–A vitamin B6 supplement I use periodically during the year to aid with my sleep. It’s especially helpful for me in the winter, when I want to sleep more.
Oscillococcinum–A homeopathic flu remedy I came across some years ago. I’m not too familiar with homeopathy but very curious to learn more. In this case, I take it when I feel like I may be coming down with the flu. Usually I can either cut it off before it takes hold, or my days with symptoms are not many.
Incidentally, if you have any suggestions for learning homeopathy or might even be willing to give me some instruction, I will gladly accept it!
Burt’s Bees Res-Q Oinment–whenever I get a cut or a burn, this salve goes on there. I’d love to learn how to make my own someday.
Tea tree oil–Perfect for drying out acne or surface fungal infections.

Tea
I keep enough around that it merits its own section.
Chamomile–to help me relax and sleep
Calming–especially helpful when I feel stressed about school. This is a specific blend including kava kava. Despite my generally laid back demeanor, I don’t do the “relaxation” thing well.
Rose Hips–good source of vitamin C
Peppermint–good for digestion, and I recently learned that in China it was traditional for men to drink hot peppermint tea in the summer to help them cool off.
Moon cycle–There’s one day each month when I feel very thankful for this tea.
Mullein–I just discovered this herb in the past week. An expectorant.
Echinacea–for immune system support.

Allopathic remedies
When all else fails…
Mucinex–Another expectorant. It really does help, but I have to be coughing a LOT before I even remember its existence
Anti-histamines–About two times a year now (if that), I feel like I really need these.
Aspirin
Ibuprofin–Yes, sometimes I do hurt that much.

What are you medicine chest necessities?

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I’m sharing this post over at Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Monday Mania, and Traditional Tuesday.

Banish plastics from your kitchen!

What do you usually use to store your leftovers? Glass? Or do you still use plastic containers? Or have you not really thought about it in some time and just throw your food in whatever you can find that’s reasonably clean? If you’re still using plastic, perhaps it’s time to rethink that decision.

Why should you banish the plastics?

1. Plastics are made from petroleum. Oil. A finite resource. A pollutant. A substance which has fueled (literally and figuratively) wars. A substance which leaked into the Gulf of Mexico for months after last April’s explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. By cutting down on the amount of plastic you consume, you cut down on the demand for oil. This does not simply apply to plastic food containers, but also plastic packaging around food, plastic water bottles, plastic around consumer goods… I am sure you get the idea. Plus, plastic is not always recyclable throughout the country.

2. Soft plastics, such as plastic wrap, PVC, and bottle cap liners, include substances called phthalates. Phthalates act as endocrine disruptors, which means that it’s causing shifts in your hormone levels. It is also possible that phthalates can cause weight gain. Another chemical in this type of plastic is DEHA, which can get into your food if it comes in direct contact, especially if it’s a fatty food. DEHA is listed as a possible carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency, but somehow a substance which can cause cancer is allowed in material which touches food.

3. Hard plastics, such a plastic food containers and water bottles, contain Bisphenol A, also known as BPA. This chemical has been getting some bad press in recent years, and with good reason. For some time it has been known that BPA mimics estrogen, which, again, will disrupt the balance of hormones in the body. This can lead to cancer and birth defects. BPA is also in a lot more substances than bottles; metal cans are often lined with BPA. When this plastic is heated, it will leak into any food it comes into contact with.

I’ve started making the switch from plastic food storage to glass. Right now I favor Pyrex storage (and I do not get paid to say that), because it is glass, very durable (it’s used in chemistry labs), and while the lids for its storage containers are plastic, they are a durable BPA-free plastic. I also will not put them through the dishwasher even though they claim to be dishwasher-safe, because I do not want to risk the heat releasing some unknown chemicals which might get into my food.

Do you want to make the switch over to glass storage containers? If you’re reading this before January 26, 2011, you’re in luck! I am offering a a set of three Pyrex storage containers to one lucky winner. See this entry to find out how to qualify.

Information from this post primarily came from the book Politically Incorrect Nutrition by Michael Barbee.

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This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday.

Quitting caffeine and other life notes

*First, even though I cannot get the widget to function properly I am thrilled to announce that I am now a member of Real Food Media! This was one of my hopes when I first started to plot this blog last fall, and finding a way in so fast feels like a big blessing.

*Two weekends ago, I got the idea in my head to try giving up caffeine. Sometimes I do things like this, just to see if I can.
So last Monday, I stopped drinking coffee in the morning. I never drank more than one big mug anyway, or two smaller ones on the weekend. When I was at work I was still drinking yerba mate. For a breakfast drink, I had some lovely cocoa spice tea with only 5mg of caffeine in it. While I missed the hearty drink first thing, I didn’t really notice anything like withdrawal.
Last Friday when I got to work, I looked at the bag of yerba mate, and didn’t even want that. Thankfully I had a bag of another herbal tea stashed there so I could still have my morning “hot drink while working” ritual. Over the weekend I picked up some rooibos based chai for home drinking, and a tea made of honeybush for work. No caffeine in either.
In the last 10 days I have shown no signs of withdrawal symptoms, major mood changes, or anything of that ilk.
So why did I decide to do this?
In May I bought myself a copy of The Four Fold Path to Healing by Dr. Thomas Cowan. This serves as something of a companion volume to Nourishing Traditions, focusing on various diseases and several methods to work together to heal from them. Sometime this summer I am going to implement the adrenal diseases issue and hopefully wipe out my few remaining issues with allergies and asthma. I’ve had allergy issues of some sort or another all my life, though the allergen has changed. It was never anything severe, thankfully. My asthma had usually been “sports-induced,” once stress-induced, and sometimes a trouble when I got sick. Nowadays I don’t even bother with an inhaler; I have used it perhaps once in the last 12 months.

*In real food news, I’ve been experimenting with different food again. I picked up some garlic scapes at the natural food store, for one. Oh goodness why did I never try these before now? They’re like a mix of garlic and scallion and I’m throwing them in to as much food as I can.
Second is kohlrabi.

It’s a root vegetable and tastes like a mix of cabbage and turnip. I bought one at the farmer’s market the first weekend of this month just to give it a shot. The leaves wilted before I had a chance to cook them up; you can treat them like any other dark leafy green. I DID get to experience the root. Unfortunately I didn’t save the site, but I can give you the basics of how I prepared this vegetable. If you’re a fan of the root veggies, give this one a try.
Peel the bulb.
Chop into small cubes.
Toss in a bowl with one tablespoon of olive oil, one crushed garlic glove (I bet you could use scapes too), and some salt.
Make sure the cubes are well covered, and place on a metal baking dish with raised edges.
Set the oven to 450F.
Roast for 30-35 minutes, and after 20 minutes, turn the cubes every five minutes or so until they look nicely done.
Toss the kohlrabi with some balsamic vinegar and serve.
Finally, inspired by at guest post at GNOWFGLINS and wanting to clear out my cupboard a little, I did my first sprouting of lentils this week. Last year I made up a lentil soup (that turned into stew due to the recipe not having enough liquid) with black beluga lentils. The amount still left in the package was small but I couldn’t bear to throw it out. I put them in a small bowl, let them soak in water for over 24 hours, then did the daily rinse in the colander. This morning they have some great sprouts coming out. I can’t wait to try them!

Happy Real Food Wednesday! Check out the carnival for other posts around the traditional food blogsphere.

Down for the count

Apparently last week’s neti post was done in the nick of time.
Guess who got hit with a major allergy attack starting Sunday night?
Yes indeed, yours truly.

So not only do I still have a lot of school work to be done before the month ends, but I lost a solid day of being able to work due to the fog that comes with an allergy attack. It was so bad I have actually been taking antihistamines. I HATE taking them, but it’s the only thing which will really keep me clear enough to be able to focus.

For this week then, I would love to hear stories you have of healing allergy issues as well as home remedies you might have to clear up your sinuses.

At least all those flowers blooming make for a beautiful walking commute.

This post is a part of Real Food Wednesday, be sure to check out other contributions to the carnival!