This is a true story. Last November I sought a functional health doctor to combat swollen joints and possible arthritis. I knew inflammation was an issue and wanted to explore a holistic route prior to going to a rheumatologist. I am not ready to go on a bunch of prescription medicines.
Fast forward 4 months. In proactively checking into my health and getting a full work up of labs, I am told I have a multitude of health concerns, all potentially tied together starting with leaky gut, autoimmune markers, inflammation, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis to name a few.
The start on my health journey….by the way, I felt pretty good going in….begins with the gut. I was given an anti-inflammatory/auto-immune protocol and diet. The additional protocol is a ton of supplements.
The diet change was pretty strict and the supplements plentiful. The initial results were overwhelm and anxiety. Anxiety over my health and in trying to understand it all, and follow all of the requests.
I don’t think I have any immediate life threatening issues. But being my motivation is to stay as active and healthy as possible as I age, I don’t want to take it lightly.
The anxiety is real. The anxiety is multi-faceted:
- I didn’t really know or think much was wrong with me. I didn’t want arthritis in my hands to get out of control and I do have joint pain when I work out.
- Although most are supplements, I am not used to taking 20 pills a day and figuring out what to take before food, with food, at night, etc.
- I eat pretty healthy anyway, but the eliminations of foods make eating out all but impossible.
- And, the long-term outcomes of osteoporosis and arthritis don’t thrill me.
Trying to comply and learn about all of this stuff in a short period of time is the trigger of the overwhelm.
But what do you do? Part of what I will share comes from two sources.
Self-Care To Combat Anxiety Over Health Concerns
There is a consistent theme in all of the books I have read on each of these individual health issues. All of them point to lifestyle and self-care as important to include in the protocols to insure anxiety and overwhelm are managed. They suggest and I am trying:
- Meditation – I downloaded an app called Calm. I have tried to meditate before. I am terrible at it. My racing thoughts go into overdrive at the thought of meditating and shutting them down. I have tried other apps like Head Space, but this one seems to be the best for me so far. I have actually been successful using these techniques a few times a week.
- Yoga – This provides two-fold benefit. It is sort of like meditation and gives me peace, but it also helps tremendously with any neck or back pain. I follow Yoga by Adrienne on You Tube. She has a wide variety of yoga practices, of which she includes special videos focusing on specific pain areas.
- Health Log/Journaling – I have always been an avid journal writer, however, keep a specific health log has kept me with perspective on my journey and progress. It also gives me more tangible data to share with my preventative health provider. Also, if I feel overwhelmed, I can go back to the beginning of the health journal and see the progress being made.
- Other self-care – I have also started doing small things like getting my nails done regularly, modifying my workouts to ensure no injuries, and although it hasn’t happened yet, regular massages are in the future.
- Journal writing to God – I have always done this part but it has always been the most important practice to staying connected to the Lord and letting Him help me. He gives me peace. He is the best healer. He gives me perspective.
Stoicism Reduces Anxiety Over Health Concerns
Which leads to the second resource to help me to minimize my health related anxiety. I read a book last year called The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holliday. The book talks about three steps that help us lean into our obstacles and persevere through them. They are perspective, action and will.
Perspective helps significantly with anxiety. You should get the book, but as it relates to this discussion, my health issues that are present are what they are. Most are hereditary and some may be caused by not having as healthy of a lifestyle in my youth. (I knew that frequent Taco Bell in the car racing through traffic to get to my late class would catch up with me.) I can’t change the past or my genes. I can only learn what I need to do now. That limits the wasted anxiety regarding what is not in my control – the past.
Action is doing whatever the best path is today to my goal for better health. How many times do you hear about people who are diagnosed with heart issues but don’t change their diet, start exercising or do anything different except start taking blood pressure or cholesterol meds. If we know there is a problem or obstacle, we shouldn’t just ignore it. It is up to us to act. And acting gives us some amount of control over our future. Obviously, only God knows the true outcome, however, He did give us science to help navigate our part in it all.
And lastly, our will. We must persevere. We must make the best of our path. We must see it through to have the best future and the least anxiety.
My sister commented yesterday that she is amazed at how calm I am with so many changes required and issues present. I did and do have anxiety about it all, however, as I look at how much worse it could be (perspective), I follow the recommended course of action diligently (action), and I stay the course (will), I have found my anxiety decreasing. I am pulling out of the overwhelm.
I am calm. Or at least appear to be!
I believe we have to do our part, but I also know that we can lean on God and He will walk with us and help us carry our burdens.
Plus, I have lost 5 lbs from the new eating plan. So there is that. A little ray of sunshine.
Jesus Leads Us To Peace
Anxiety over health concerns is normal and expected. But there is much available to combat it.
Our dependence on the Lord is number one.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
– Proverbs 3: 5-6