162: Why it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself

162: Why it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself

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There was no podcast/blog post last week because I was sick. Whatever I had kicked my butt hard for a few days. It wasn’t Covid; the symptoms didn’t line up. My close friends who work in the medical field told me that my symptoms sounded like something that’s going around locally that isn’t Covid or RSV. My biggest complaints were a sore throat, a mucusy cough that settled deep in my chest, constant sneezing, and I completely lost my voice. I never ran a fever or had a headache. But I dealt with nausea/vomiting, severe body aches, and a complete lack of appetite.

So while it may seem ironic that I’m going to tackle this topic after having just gotten over being sick, I think it’s the perfect time to bring it up. I do take care of myself and I think the points in this piece will help illustrate why it’s a huge benefit to take care of yourself, especially now.

SIDE NOTE TO KEEP IN MIND: When people talk about how an illness affects them, we have to understand that people react differently to pain and discomfort. Y’all, I have an extremely high tolerance for pain and discomfort. If you put someone like me next to someone who has zero tolerance for pain and discomfort, give them the same illness, have it ravage their body in the same way, and then have them report how they feel to some medical authorities, you’re going to get two very different stories about the same illness. Please keep that in mind when you hear people report on illnesses. 

6 Really Important Reasons to Take Care of Yourself

1 ) Because illnesses are ramping up.

RSV is now threatening to become a really big thing. Yeah, that RSV. I already have two family members and a friend who have been diagnosed with it.

But, y’all, RSV has always been a thing. Why is it suddenly a big thing, especially at this time of year? And if RSV is ramping up like that, what is the influenza season going to be like?

Yeah. Influenza. Remember that illness?

A little Tinfoil Hat Amy here: My two cents is that we’re going to see stuff like this because for how many months people were told to stay home, stay away from people, don’t go outside, etc.— do you know what that does to an immune system?

One of the things people used to tell me when we decided to homeschool was, “your kids will always be sick because they won’t be around other kids to build their immune system”. First of all, my kids were not always sick. They were around plenty of people—just not in a public school setting. Secondly, you’re not wrong that keeping people locked up away from each other is a really bad idea because THIS RIGHT HERE—and what I assume we will continue to see more of—is exactly what happens. And unfortunately, we’re not talking about one family, or one group of homeschoolers being “secluded” from the world, we’re talking about the vast majority of the world being locked up away from each other. Tinfoil Hat Amy says we’re going to see the consequences of that played out in future illnesses and people’s immune systems.

2) Because if you do catch something, you will have a better chance of having a mild case/getting over it sooner.

Generally speaking, if you’re a healthy person, you can fight the crud—any crud—better than someone who is not healthy.

Let’s say that Illness XYZ sets people back 30%. If you normally operate at 100%,  Illness XYZ will drop you back to 70%. However, if you’re not a healthy person, and you normally operate at 50%, Illness XYZ will set you all the way back to 20%. There is a huge difference in body function and capability between someone operating at 70% or 20%.

Doing whatever you can to have your body operating at 100% is essential right now. Any illness or injury will set you back, but how far back do you want it to knock you?

3) Because the more you know your body, the faster you will know that you’re coming down with something.

If you know your body, and you pay attention to your body, you know the second you’re getting sick.

I know my body. We work together. As I went about my business last week, I swallowed and suddenly my throat didn’t feel right. And I knew, Crap, I’m getting sick. But you know what? That means that right then and there I could start taking steps to combat what I had.

The more you take care of yourself, the more you know your body. And the more you know your body and pay attention to what it’s telling you, the easier it will be to take care of yourself. It’s one of those great cycles that you want to be stuck in.

4) Because health care systems are overwhelmed

The media tell us medical institutions are overwhelmed with patients because, Covid. But every person I know who works in a medical institutions tells me they aren’t overwhelmed due to Covid patients, but due to the fact that institutions are short staffed.

Regardless of what you believe the real reason is, if you don’t have to make use of a medical institution right now, the better off you are. With vaccinations being mandated for employees in many health care systems—systems that are already short staffed, and will now lose or fire more employees who choose not to get the vaccine—I think we’ve got a bit of a medical system crisis building. Your best bet? Save the hospital or clinic or ambulance space and time they have available for someone who truly needs it.

5) Because the less you have to be part of the system, the better.

If you don’t have to go to the doctor, all the better. Try to live a life that means the doctor won’t recognize you. Aim to live your life in such a way that the doctor makes comments about your sorely lacking medical file.

Taking care of yourself doesn’t need to be about looking good or feeling great because honestly, sometimes that’s not enough to keep us on track. But if you tell someone, “staying healthy means you’ll have a better chance to stay out of the system”? That might be the ticket—especially right now.

(More thoughts on this in Episode 151: The Real Reason to Take Care of Yourself.)

6) Because people are watching. 

The way you live can influence others. They’re watching your choices. You’re showing them what your normal is. And sometimes that normal is reaching for different stuff to deal with issues.

I love that when I said to my husband, “I need pine needles for some pine needle tea,” he didn’t even bat an eye. I love that when I asked my youngest to bring home grapefruits and lemons from work so I could make a concoction of sorts, he said “ok”. I love that my oldest son said, “shouldn’t we be starting another batch of fire cider soon”?

My husband, when dealing with an issue, will often say, “what kind of witch medicine do you have for XYZ?”

See? He knows. But more importantly than that? He trusts. Because he’s seen how I take care of myself and he’s seen some stuff work. 😉

(By the way, have you listened to Living Free in Tennesee’s podcast episode “Which Witch is Which“? Nicole talks about the “witchiness” of homesteading and why what seems so strange to some is simply living.)

I’m not anti-western medicine. It’s just never the first thing that I reach for. And because of that, most of the time I don’t end up having to reach for it at all. Be that person that people know has another way to treat something. Be that person who proves to others that something else is an option that can work when we are taking care of ourselves.

But, how do we take care of ourselves?

That’s a big topic, but it’s not complicated. It’s also not super exciting. I bet you know some (or all) of the things I’m going to say.

Eat better.

I’m not saying don’t have a treat. I’m saying make excellent choices most of the time. I don’t even care what path of eating you follow. Pick a way that works for you, stick with it, and make excellent choices most of the time. I think in our gut, the majority of us know what an excellent choice is and what a treat is. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. Put decent fuel into your body so it can do the things it needs to do.

Also, realize that you can’t generally eat like a 20 year old when you’re 40. And I’m assuming you can’t eat like a 40 year old when you’re 60. Stop treating your body like it’s 18 when you’re 47. You’re not 18 anymore. That’s nature. Deal with it. Fuel your body for the stage of life you’re actually in, not the one you are pining for, and you will be far better off.

Move your body. 

Get off your butt and move around. That doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon, although good for you if that’s what you choose to do. I mean, don’t spend all day sitting—or standing in the same spot. I mean, move your body in a way that makes sense for you and challenges you. I mean, don’t worry about how much your neighbor can lift or how far they can run—unless that lights a fire under you. Worry about you and that you’re putting your body through the paces so it will go through the paces for you if it needs to at some point.

Learn how to treat stuff without immediately reaching for a pill. 

In the grand scheme of things, Western medicine is pretty new. People were dealing with disease, illness, and injury long before there was ibuprofen or z-pacs. There are many options out there that used to be second nature. Make them second nature again, so you at least know what your options are.

Again, I’m not anti-western medicine. I’m glad it exists, and I will use it when I think it’s absolutely necessary. But I think part of taking care of ourselves is learning other modes of healing than what the mainstream pushes, and understanding we have options. And with those options, you can often keep yourself out of the system.

Learn to identify herbs and weeds on your property. Understand how they can be used medicinally. (I love Devon Young’s book The Backyard Herbal Apothecary for this.) Learn about essential oils, homeopathy, reiki, meditation, and other alternative forms of healing.

The biggest thing I think we could learn? Sometimes it’s okay to be uncomfortable. It usually means our body is working things out.

Why isn’t “taking care of yourself” the main story?

I think there are two reasons that “take care of yourself” isn’t the narrative that’s harped on in the mainstream.

Reason 1: No money in it

Unless you’re selling a certain pre-boxed diet, pill, exercise system, over the top expensive “natural” supplements/cures etc, there’s no money to be made in selling the “take care of yourself” lifestyle. If you’re that person who is just gonna eat decent food and keep their body moving and stay out of the system and do their own thing, danger! Danger! That’s a problem! How will we make money off those people?

There is real money to be made in keeping people sick and dependent on heading back to the doctor for the next thing. 

Reason 2:  It’s a boring story.

When I said, “eat decent, move your body, and learn to treat yourself,” how many of you were thinking, yeah, yeah. I know. It’s boring! It’s what we’ve always been told.

But, wait! Isn’t there something more interesting? Isn’t there some new thing we can do?

No. Consider this: what if “eat decent, move your body, learn to treat yourself” is really all it is? What if it’s really just that boring and that simple?

Taking care of yourself is important.

In the real world, stuff happens. It’s impossible to not get sick, but I think we can take care of ourselves in a way that we potentially make the sickness less of of a burden on our bodies. And I think that’s incredibly important, especially right now.

Take care of yourself so your self can take care of you.

— Amy Dingmann, 8-23-21

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