Cope better when life presents a challenge

You have the power to change your health. The habits that you create, the regime that you practice, will positively support your body, relaxation, rejuvenation, restoration, having raised energy levels, so you can enjoy your life, enjoy playing with your children, grandchildren, and perform at your optimum levels.”

Alicja Son

Think of the last time you were really ill. Do you remember how you felt? How it hurt to think that you couldn’t eat your favourite dinner or dessert?

When you had to stay in bed, do you remember how it hurt to think about all the appointments or dates you had to reschedule? What about the trips, flights you cancelled or the night outs you had to postpone indefinitely? You had to miss work, and the clients you lost, because you were not there to attend to them or fill out their orders? You had a mountain of emails to work through on your return. Sound familiar?

Or, the one that hurt you most – how you could not attend your daughter’s/son’s play. Think of how they felt when they realized you couldn’t watch them wow the audience after they had practised for months because you were wheezing and coughing so violently and the doctor had given you some medication and asked you to stay in bed and rest for a while. Were these experiences something you looked forward to?

What would you say if I told you that this doesn’t have to happen again?

When people say that ‘health is wealth’, it’s not a cliché. They say it because they know that falling ill is the most inconvenient thing that can happen to anyone. It saps you of your strength, rids you of confidence and sometimes incapacitates you or makes it very difficult for you to do anything else. It depletes your energy levels in the body, and you just feel like you want to stay in bed all day long. Your reserves of minerals, micro and trace elements and vital vitamins are being used at an exacerbated rate by your body to help you function. We rely on minerals to release energy within our cells. Unarguably, ill-health is one thing that affects everything else we do. Lack of major nutrients within our bodies affects our immune system, and when our defences are down, bacteria and pathogens are ready to attack.

When you are ill, everything in your life seems to slow down or come to a sudden halt. Any goal you are pursuing, any deal you are trying to close, any art you are trying to master, any skill you’re trying to hone, any relationship you’re trying to foster, any student you’re trying to train or teach – everything has to wait because you are no longer fit enough to do the task. Sometimes, people have to defer admissions, skip job interviews, or sit on the bench in games they were supposed to star in. Has this ever happened to you?

It is not necessarily because you no longer have the ability to do what you used to do, but because you are not strong enough to put in your best.

While you focus on climbing up your career ladder, it is really easy to take an eye off our health. We have competing priorities, meetings to attend. Therefore it is vital that you protect your time, and that health remains at the top of the ladder.

If you study closely bibliographies for example of any successful leaders such as Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Tony Robbins, Dan Lock, Dean Grasiozi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Lee, Michelle and Barack Obama you will notice that they paid a lot of attention to their health. 2006 study conducted by Harvard University, Professor Michael E. Porter (Harvard Business School in Boston) and Dean Nitin Nohria (Harvard Business School) examined the daily calendars of 25 Executives, Worldwide known CEOs. They found that CEO’s allocate each day time for health, fitness and rest. On average many had regular exercise regimens, (about minimum 45 minutes a day). They also trained in a similar manner as elite athletes do to sustain the intensity of their job. They allocated a minimum ½ for their lunch, also had protected time for their families and spent up to 2.1 hrs a day to unwind, read and learn.

It is instrumental to understand that wanting to achieve a goal in the state of ill-health may not only be detrimental to the person who is ill but to the people, you are working for or doing things with. Also, a person who is ill is not usually able to put in their best, or be as effective as he or she is used to, due to their condition. This is why smart and educated people guard their health jealously and cherish it like it’s one of life’s finest treasures – worth more than pearls and diamonds.

I am sure you are familiar with the saying “you cannot buy your health.” Health is something we have to cherish, pay attention to and work on in order to enjoy happy and healthy retirement years, our grandchildren, and enjoy life.

In first world countries, billions of pounds, dollars, euros are pumped into healthcare for research into newer and better ways to improve the health of the general public. New drugs, methods and procedures are developed and tested on a daily basis to help create a disease-free world. Modern medicine is focused on treating symptoms and finding a cure for disease, whereas the wellbeing model is based on preventing the disease from occurring, understanding the symptoms, looking at what changed and root cause. Therefore we play an integral part in our wellness.

Apart from research, most governments offer national health service to all citizens, so that there is no excuse to die of something as simple as the flu or measles because you have no resources. If good health weren’t that important, no one would spend so many resources trying to get, keep it or prevent it from slipping from within their grasp. If it wasn’t so valuable, people from other countries, where they don’t have state of the art facilities, wouldn’t save up money just to fly themselves and the people they care about to countries like ours for medical checks and treatment, if they are fortunate enough to be able to do this.

I’m quite certain that you hate how your life goes when you’re ill. You also hate having to depend on people to help you do basic things (especially when you are critically ill and hospitalized). Since you hate it so much, I suggest that you pay closer attention to your health and your body, do your best to ensure you do not breakdown often.

By paying close attention to your habits, you will observe a few things that are bad for you and make positive lifestyle changes that would make your health a whole lot better. Keeping a journal of your health and diet is a good start. It helps you to notice changes that are occurring, reflect what you want to do about these habits. Coming back to nature and using natural products in their simplest forms, staying away from processed food, and poor quality personal care products, replacing them with nature’s pharmacy i. e fresh fruit, herbs, oils, responsibly and ethically cared for and fed livestock. If we as consumers change what we want, the market will have to respond. So you may ask?What’s my story? Similar to you, I had not paid enough attention to my body when I was younger. Now, I am trying to repair the damage I have caused to my body as I was focusing on the wrong things in life. I did not pay enough attention to the meaning of how I feel and how I felt about me. I also lost close friends and family far too early in their life’s journey, due to conditions such as cancer, leukaemia, diabetes, stroke, heart attack.

Michelle Obama, the Former First Lady of The United States of America, summarised for me beauty and health. Since childhood and as women, we are influenced by glossy magazines, chasing the perfect lifestyles, Michelle Obama, however, reminded me that: “Becoming a healthy woman isn’t about standing on the scale or measuring your waistline. We need to start to focus on what matters – on how we feel and how we feel about ourselves.”

I am sure you notice the signs your body shows: dull skin, rashes, dryness, loss of hair, brittle nails, pain and aches especially neck and lower back, fatigue, anxiety, disturbed sleep. These are just the obvious ones. My body was providing me with the signs all the time, but I kept going, and there I was February 2016, I am sitting in the USG scan room, the doctor is scrolling across my abdomen, the silence is excruciating. He should be saying to me what sex it is, yet tells me that he needs to get a colleague to consult with, walking out of the consultation room. At this moment I think I knew intrinsically, this is it, I squeezed the palm of my partner’s hand and said, it is not happening, the pain, emptiness and numbness.

My dietary habits were all over the place before conception, work-life balance non-existent. I was managing a front line team in a busy Children’s Services department, with little support at the time. I felt that there was no other way. I did not want to let the clients down, and team members needed me. Yet my family and a 3 yrs old was waiting for mummy to come home. The guilt was unbearable. It’s ironic how “busy” makes us think it is synonymous with success. I was fighting a losing battle. I knew we were understaffed, and senior management was aware of this. My close friends noticed how tired I looked. Not having time to stop, relax, reflect and rebalance affected me in so many ways. My tests showed I was not pregnant until I was 7 weeks in. I had excruciating headaches, felt really unwell throughout the day.

When presented again at the GP at 8 weeks they did another test. I was then booked for my 12 weeks scan. I went for a check up at 8 weeks to hospital as I wasn’t feeling well and was told the baby is fine. At 12 weeks I was told “ I am sorry this is not a viable pregnancy, but I need your decision to terminate.” I heard the baby’s heartbeat,… but they said it would not survive the pregnancy, or if miraculously it did, I was told the baby would die, shortly after birth, as the defects were profound.

Getting enough folic acid before and during early pregnancy can help prevent neural tube defects, such as anencephaly. I learned a lot about the condition since the loss of my second baby and read that in the United States after they began fortifying grains with folic acid, they found there has been a 28% decline in pregnancies affected by neural tube defects (spina bifida and anencephaly). Micronutrients and vitamins are vital to mother and fetus health and are interrelated, for example, a deficiency in one micronutrient might affect the utilisation of other. Vitamin K influences the absorption of calcium; the absorption of iron from plant sources is increased almost by 65% when vitamin C is available; vitamin B12 is involved in converting folic acid to the form in which it can be absorbed by the body, known as methyl-tetrahydrofolate. Iron, Iodine, foliate, Vitamin D3, C and K, Calcium, Magnesium, Selenium, Phosphorus are vital. Vitamin C is better absorbed through the skin if little acidity is added, i.e. lemon juice, vinegar to for example home made banana face mask

Once I was able to objectively look at the circumstances that lead to the loss, I realised I was under a lot of stress, had not given time, permission to myself to relax, did not listen to my body, I was not eating well whilst in work, and my sleep was disturbed. I not only suffered ill health due to lack of minerals and trace elements in the body due to the hectic lifestyle that I chose to follow, but also on the emotional level the chronic pain and aches in my body presented heavily in the lower and middle back, neck , arms. These pains were partially caused by the long hours I spent in front of the computer at work, but also because of the feelings I carried with me at the time. My emotional state has affected my physical body. Studies show that buried emotions, feeling helpless, trauma, can affect the physical body, our organs and cause disharmony within. There is a link between emotional build up and physical body. Therefore it is vital that we pay attention to how we feel about ourselves. Understanding the physical and emotional pain in our body is a key and a cue to deal with the emotional issues and stress. If we are able to reflect on what causes these feelings from searching within, we are better able to understand and tackle the cause, rather than taking a pill to numb the pain.

STOP, STOP right now and give yourself the permission to evaluate where you are. Use the free Tick box tool that I have provided here as my gift to you to get you on the right path.

You may be starting your health journey in the valley and the goal feels far to reach, but when you climb mountains and achieve reaching the summit, it is done through dedication, commitment and knowing which path to take. The Tick box exercise allows you to understand where you are right now and reflect on what steps you need to take.

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