Four (4 )Health Habits
Health is my number one concern for patients as a doctor. Every day I try to give my patients the tools and information they need to lead a healthy, happy and pain free life. I have been trained as physician to not only help patients heal, but to also educate them on what it means to be healthy.
As a doctor I have to admit that I haven’t always lived the healthiest life. When I was younger I didn’t know any better and frankly just didn’t care. Then, when I got to medical school I was able to truly focus on my health and practice all of the tools that I was learning. I was the healthiest I had ever been. That’s when residency came and my world changed drastically. As a resident you have crazy hours and very little time to eat, sleep, or relax. Often times when I did have a day off it was to study so I was prepared and ready for what the next day brought. During that time I was constantly sleep deprived and in a chronic state of stress. I would say that was probably one of my unhealthiest points of my life.
After finishing residency and starting in private practice I was able to focus on my health again. I lost weight, gained muscle and really focused on my mental clarity and focus. There are really four habits that I started implementing regularly that made a profound difference in my quality of life and overall health. I want to share these habits with you and see if they may help change your life too!
Habit 1- Diet
We talk about this a lot in the practice because it is so important! Now, when I say diet it doesn’t mean to restrict, it just means to make different choices. Healthier choices that feed and nourish the body, supplying it with the nutrients it needs to thrive. For my patients who are suffering from chronic pain I often recommend an anti-inflammatory way of eating. This involves cutting out processed foods, limiting sugar intake, and introducing whole foods that are healthy and full of antioxidants.
The antioxidants that you receive from fruits and vegetables help to fight free radicals which then may reduce your chances of disease and may help to lower your inflammation levels.
Diet is one of those changes that can be hard, that’s why my wife Nikki regularly demonstrates easy, healthy anti-inflammatory recipes on her blog. This gives patients an idea on what to make at home and how to substitute certain ingredients for a healthier option.
Habit 2- Sleep
Sleep is crucial for patients suffering with chronic inflammation and pain. This is one of those issues that can be hard to tackle because often pain keeps you from getting a restful night’s sleep and then lack of sleep may intensify your pain levels. There are some things you can do at home that may help improve your sleep. Think about how we have a sleep routine for our babies or kids. We usually start the wind down process about an hour before bed. Starting with a bath, then maybe a book, dim lights and soft music to get them ready for sleep. Why does that change as we get older? As adults, we too need a routine to get us relaxed and ready for a good night’s sleep. Here is what I do at home that has helped me tremendously with my sleeping habits.
- Limit distractions before bed. No cell phones, violent television or work before bed.
- Shut the TV off 1 hour before bed.
- Take a hot shower or bath to help reduce muscle soreness.
- Do a meditation or write in a journal to help release any stress or to-do lists that may be in your head.
- Wake up at the same time every day. When you wake up at different times each day your circadian rhythm gets thrown off and can cause sleep disturbances.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night, get up and walk around, journal or do something that is not stimulating. When you feel tired go back to sleep. Try not to stay in bed when you can’t sleep.
- Don’t look a the time or at your phone when you wake up. Looking at the time can stimulate your mind and cause you to start thinking.
- Get 20 minutes of sunlight in the morning to help produce natural melatonin.
- Wear blue-light blocking glasses when watching tv or looking at your phone in the evening.
Habit 3- Stress Management
These days stress can be hard to avoid. It seems like with busy lives stress is inevitable. I have learned this year the importance of stress management. Opening up the practice has been one of the biggest and most exciting endeavors that I have experienced. There is also a lot that comes with running your own practice. That’s when the stress can creep in. For me, I use meditation as a way to help reduce stress.
There are so many forms of meditation out there to help with stress. Whether it be guided meditations, breath work, transcendental meditation, or a number of others, meditation is a great tool to not only help with stress, but it may help reduce the severity of you chronic pain. Another form of stress management is talk therapy.
This helps to work through anything in your life that may be causing stress. Stress is a form of energy and when you hold it in, this allows the stress to grow and may add to your pain symptoms as well as to your joy and peace.
Here are some tools where you can view different meditations and also talk therapy:
- Insight Timer
- Better Help
We all need some form of meditation or talk therapy in our life to help release stress that comes with day to day life, and also the stress of dealing with chronic pain. Chronic pain can be very draining physically, mentally, and emotionally. Having a space to release these feelings may help to reduce your pain and stress, which may give you more joy and energy.
Habit 4- Movement
Movement is another habit that I created from a young age. It’s so important to help keep you young, healthy and vital. Now, everyone is different with the amount of movement they are able to do each day. Everyone has different body types and may require less or more movement based on your energy and pain levels. It is important that you try to get some form of movement in each day.
Whether it be going for a walk, doing yoga/pilates, going to the gym, working in the garden, physical therapy or stretching. Movement not only is great for your body, but it’s also wonderful for your mental health. Movement is one of those habits that when you create it, your life will significantly improve.
To create a habit it takes 21 days. I would say to start by implementing these habits for 30 days. Do them every day and journal the progress. See how you feel on day and then if you feel any different on day 30. This will give you an idea if these new habits are helping to improve the quality of your life and reducing your pain.
At ISPW we want to help you implement these habits into your life. Please let us know if these types lifestyle changes are something you would like help with. Send us a comment below and let us know how we can help you create new habits that may change your life.
Here’s to good health and less pain,