Often the biggest obstacles to our health are of our own making and feeling better means getting out of own way. This is especially true with stress. Stress will exacerbate almost any health issue, and we all need to know how to relax. Relaxation isn’t just about what we like to do when winding down, it is about knowing how to take care of ourselves, knowing our boundaries, and taking time away when we need it. Put your own mask on first, right?
What about when the budget doesn’t allow for two week vacations in lands nicer and warmer than where you live? When spas are out of the question because the bills get priority, there are still a ton of options to relax, lower the heart rate, nourish the adrenal and endocrine systems, and prioritize your health.
Here is a quick list to look over for cheap to free ways to de-stress. Pick a few and try them out. See which one actually makes you feel better, and do it! You deserve it. You’ll feel more grounded and have more energy to tackle the same issues. I swear they won’t get any bigger while you take that bath.
1. TAKE A BATH. Of course this is first. Assuming you have a bathtub, it is mere pennies to fill it up with piping hot water and ease yourself in and let the worries seep out of you and wash them down the drain.
Want to step it up? Here are some things to add that won't break the bank (or even make a dent): Epsom salt, flower petals from the garden (roses, lavender, sage will have a nice scent, but grab any flower with color to bring some joy into the bathtub), bubbles, bath bombs, a few drops of essential oils, oatmeal.
Does the thought of cleaning the tub afterwards stress you out? Put the flowers, oatmeal and other things that won't dissolve into a cloth bag and either run the bath water over them or let it steep in the tub with you.
2. TAKE A WALK SOMEPLACE QUIET. Woods, deserts, and parks are some of my favorites. Someplace you can hear the wind move the tress and the birds sing. Go to the beach and watch the ocean waves come in and out from the shore. Do you live in a concrete jungle without access to any of those things? Try cemeteries. No really, if bugs and nature scare you more than bodies resting under nicely maintained lawns and flowers, then cemeteries can be a really nice, quiet place to walk or sit and gather your thoughts. Imagine the lives of the people commemorated on the headstone. Be grateful for everyday you have.
3. CHECK OUT FREE MUSEUMS. Quietly take in some art and perspective. See if there is an event to check out. It's a perfect place to be around people, but also be in your own space. A lot of the larger, more costly museums have at least a day a month with free admission. Find out when it is and go park it in front of a Basquiat. Or find Monet and try to guess how many colors are used, or how much time or how many layers of paint were needed for his famous sunrises.
4. MEDITATE. Don't know where to start? Try taking 10 deep breaths. Feel the lungs expand, pushing into your throat. Hold it, exhale until you feel them close in towards your stomach. Bonus points for doing this in nature. Double bonus points for taking 5 minutes over your lunch break to close your eyes and count your breath. It is about being able to silence or at least distract the chatter in your head. Focus on the way air moves over your lips, through your body.
5. YOGA. In a similar vein to meditation, but with yoga synchronizes the breath with the whole body. A lot of studios offer the first month membership at a discount. Check out your local spots. Still too much of an investment? Get on Youtube and search Yin Yoga. Melt the day away.
6. EXERCISE. Move your body, increase your circulation, push it so the only thing your mind can do is concentrate on its movements. Go for a run, speed walk, dance. Again, Youtube can get you sweating at no cost, and then there is no need to stress about wearing your workout clothes in public before you are good and ready.
7. WATCH SOME COMFORT TV. Go easy on yourself. Sometimes after a long day we need to just let entertainment take us away. That is what it is made to do, and it does it very well. Get on something comfy, curl up on the couch and fall into another world, your favorite sitcom or the movie that makes you laugh every time. The online site, Kanopy, is available for free through a lot of libraries. It has a unique selection of documentaries and international films.
8. CALL A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER. Have vent session. If you are concerned about getting an earful of less than stellar advise, announce before had that no solutions are needed, and you just have to say it out loud. It might not be professional life coaching you get, but that is what friends are for and it's way cheaper than therapy.
9. GRAB A NOVEL. Forget your worries and slip into some good story telling. Reread the classics or sign up to some book lists to get the latest and greatest. This isn't the time for heady, non-fictional reading, this is to let the mind wander into other cities, other lives, other worlds. Audio books are great too. Often libraries will have a huge selection that you can access online
10. LISTEN TO YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC. Sing along if it suits you. Tired of the old stuff? Pandora and Spotify have free options and their algorithms make for some spot on suggestions. Ask friends for what they are listening to.
Stress, often bordering anxiety is part of most health issues. Finding ways to relax that won't make one stress about the money it costs them to do it is important, and often the only way it will be sustainable.
Unfortunately the world creates more stress in one week than what can be dealt with in one day. We need to be working in daily practices to de-stress, not just massages on the weekends.
There are many reasons people use alternative and complementary medicines, either exclusively or in conjunction with Western, allopathic medicine. Sometimes it is a cultural or religious decision, sometimes it is about inaccessibility, or negative experiences and discrimination. And sometimes, though not nearly often enough, it is recommended by the person you were told to trust the most with your health: your primary care physician.
Most doctors specialize and can be very good at diagnosing and medicating that one specific body part or organ they are the expert about, but often without acknowledging it is part of a whole system, a body system, an organism, you. If part of you is sick or ill, all of you feels it. It radiates into all aspects of your life, and cannot be isolated. More and more people are turning to alternative medicine because the western model does not address the root of the issue. Auto-Immune diseases have been especially hard for allopathic medicine to address and those afflicted have benefited from alternative, holistic approaches.
Lyme’s disease is a disorder that has left those infected to fend for themselves. It often has hard to explain symptoms that cannot be correlated. It can effect nearly every system in the body. It is because it is so multi-faceted and requires a whole body approach that western doctors have a hard time treating patients.
This is where naturapaths, herbalists, functional medicine and other alternative practices and lifestyle changes can be so helpful with Lyme’s disease. Anti-biotics alone are not enough. This bacterium is tricky, and builds safe houses yet impenetrable to full spectrum anti-biotics where it can co-habitate with other bacteria, yeasts and fungi.
Lyme’s treatment requires multiple angles and there is no one size fits all. Below are four therapeutic goals for Lyme’s. Not every plant or medicine listed is necessary, but be sure to be taking a couple things in each category. Address each category with herbs, diet, medications and/ or supplements.
Therapuetic Goals for Lyme’s Management
1. Anti-Microbial/ Anti-biotics
These are the herbs and medicines to actually kill the bacterium. Allopathically this will be Doxycycline. It is typically taken for 1-3 months. In the plant world, it could many things. The most commonly used being: Olive Leaf, Oregano Leaf, and Japanese Knotweed. The bacteria does not survive contact with silver, so taking colloidal silver is often an inferred application. Some practitioners suggest cycling the antibiotic usage, as it seems to come back out of hiding when not being attacked twice daily, as well as switching the herbs used so it doesn’t have a chance to build resistance
Please note taking antibiotics for an extended amount of time can be detrimental to the body’s microbiome, especially in the gut. Take care to be eating fermented foods and supplementing daily with probiotics, taken two hours away from both prescription antibiotics and plant based ones. Saccharimyces will help with side effects of wiping out both good and bad bacteria and has a decent survival rate with antibiotics. If taking for more than 10 day cycle, invest in a full spectrum probiotic to keep the gut flora intact for the full cycle of antibiotics and continuing use afterwards.
Don’t Forget the Biofilm
Both allopathic and herbal remedies will only kill the bacteria in the blood stream. Many bacteria (and fungi and viruses) are known to hide and create a Biofilm to protect them from anti-biotics and attacks from the Immune System. Like i said, it is tricky. While taking antibiotics it is important to take herbs/ supplements to shave away the biofilm as well. These include: Berberine, Grafefruit Seed Extract (GSE), Oregon Grape, Andrographis, Teasel, Turmeric, Goldenseal, proteolytic enzymes, serrapeptase, Bromelain, garlic, cinnamon, and many other plant and supplement options. Work with an herbalist or alternative practitioner to find the herbs best suited for you.
You are your best defense. Boost the immune system so secondary infections won’t slow the healing process. Doctors are starting to give low doses of naltrexone to increase immune health and lower inflammation. Alternative options include: Vitamin D (2500IU daily), medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi, Cordyceps (will additionally nourish the adrenals and provide energy), and Maitake. Beta-glucans are a way to activate the immune system and white blood cells without over stimulating it. You may also consider Chinese Skullcap, Probiotics, and Larch.
3. Cellular/ Detoxification Pathway Support
As the Lyme bacteria are killed, the process and the remaining waste create a lot inflammation in the body. This is often the source of symptoms. Support your body’s detoxification pathways and reduce inflammation. Green Tea and Matcha are wonderful anti-oxidents. Fish oil is one of the best anti-inflammatories we have. In periods of healing shoot for 2000 mg per day, or eating deep sea fish 4-5 times a week. Turmeric has been used for centuries as medicinal food, and now science has shown it to reduce inflammation (as well as having sooo many other benefits, too many to mention here. But yes, it adds up to all the hype it gets. Take it.) Resveratrol (grape seed) is an anti-aging supplement assisting the body in getting rid of free radicals. NAC, Glutathione, and CoQ10 are powerful supplements to support the liver and overall detoxification process. Increase high anti-oxidant foods such as berries and dark greens. Remember, fiber is the last step necessary in detox.
4. Nourish the Body and Organ systems, address symptoms
Give the body the foundation it needs to improve overall function, down to a cellular level. Each cell needs to be as strong as possible to push out or resist. Options include: B-Complex (methylated), Resveratrol, Milk Thistle, Maritime Pine Bark. Also supporting circulation will help move herbs and supplements as well as white blood cells. This can be done with Nitric Oxide, Cayenne, Butcher’s Broom, Gingko, Larch, and/ or Hawthorn.
Sleep is so important, as well as controlling stress levels. None of these things will be effective if the body is inflamed through stress or unable to heal and restore its balance with sleep. Please address if needed.