This week I’ve watched a fascinating tv programme called ‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’. It was about a doctor who worked with patients to find alternatives to the pharmaceutical drugs they were taking, because he believes that too many people are taking drugs on a long-term basis and that it isn’t the answer.
It made me think about how much we just mask our physical and emotional reactions, without ever getting to the cause of that reaction and doing something about it.
There is a purpose to aches and pains – to alert us to something being out of balance. It may be a temporary state: I’ve sat still for too long, or I’ve eaten something that’s upset my digestive system. And sometimes it is chronic: I’ve weakened my knees, or I’ve frequent headaches. Similarly our emotional aches and pains are symptoms of something not right and out of balance in our lives. We may be depressed or fearful or angry, either temporarily or frequently.
Pills may give us temporary relief, enough time to deal with the underlying story, when it’s a physical pain, but they are unlikely to cure us – and if we take them on a regular basis they may well do us more harm than good – virtually no drug is without side effects. And watching tv or eating comfort food, or drinking alcohol may distract us from our emotional stuff, but again, they won’t cure it.
So what can we do differently?
There is plenty of research to suggest that our lifestyle is a major factor in our lack of well-being: too much stress, busyness, fast food; not enough physical movement and activity, sleep, and time in natural surroundings. And we do get lots of messages to ‘change our lifestyle choices’ – but that sounds so hard! How do we do this when there’s so much else we have to think about and do?
The answer is one step at a time!!
- A specialist on the tv programme said that walking was the best miracle cure he knew – so walk a little! Go round the block once or twice a week, or go to the park and walk around for 20 minutes.
- Being in natural surroundings helps our spirits, so the park works in 2 ways – or go to a National Trust garden once a month.
- Have a sleep-in once a week. Don’t set the alarm and let yourself catch up a bit – our bodies can heal themselves while we’re asleep.
- Do something physical that you enjoy once a fortnight. Go swimming, do some gardening, join a yoga or dance class.
- Once a week, make a meal from scratch, full of fresh vegetables – use lots of different colours, get the family involved in preparing it.
- And talk with people you love, face to face. Our connections with others help to keep us healthy and it’s always good to talk..
So what’s your drug of choice? I’ll still take the occasional ibuprofen if I have a headache, but I think I’ll look after myself most of the time with the ‘drugs’ of walking, gardening and my lovely friends!