Spring is here, and with it comes a time of growth and renewal. With this change of season comes blossoming of new life, new ideas and, hopefully, a spring-fresh dedication to health and wellness. So let’s remove the barriers to our health while embracing a renewed commitment to holistic well practices.
Whether you suffer stress or back pain, headaches or PMS, tendonitis or something else altogether, the prescription medications helped a bit, for a while. But when they wore off, you had to take more… and more still. And now you are seeing an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, a massage therapist or some other holistic therapist and are finding that the requirements to do what is asked of you (even attending the frequent appointments), is just not quite fitting into your busy daily schedule.
Taking personal responsibility for your own health is difficult. It requires dedication and patience. Life is tough. Personal suffering is worse. It seems we all, in our quest for health, wellbeing or simple pain relief, encounter the same set of barriers. These are things that seem either to be in our way or fall along our path as we traverse it toward a better quality of life. And while each person’s barriers are of different sizes and shapes, the following three are by far the most common.
Barrier 1: Time
Perhaps the most obvious barrier to achieving optimal health is time. There is only so much of it in a day, a week, a month and a year. We can’t add time, and when we finally do find a free moment it quickly gets eaten up by unanticipated sources, like work, housework, family obligations, events, projects, you name it.
Something always seems to get in the way of doing our exercises; driving out of the way to purchase organic whole foods; eating balanced meals; getting a healthy amount of sleep; taking those supplements as directed; or drinking enough water or exercising. After a while, people start to think that going the “alternative” route to relief may be a bit overbearing. You have to visit the practitioner, perhaps several days per week for several weeks or months. You have to take herbs or supplements—and handfuls of them several times per day. You have to do a series of stretches or exercises between office visits… and sometimes even on the same day! Who’s got time for all that?
The main difference between mainstream medicine and alternative therapies is that the practitioners and products of alternative “medicine” are working toward healing you, not patching you up. And healing takes time. And I’m here to tell you that time is no true barrier to health!
Look, I know you’re busy. You’ve got kids, a demanding job and a hectic family schedule. But if you need to exercise you can prioritize 20 minutes at a time, three days per week.
Forget Seinfeld reruns; do your stretches instead. Better yet, why not do the exercises while watching your favorite sitcom or the evening news? Why not skip reading the morning paper and go for a walk instead. Avoid the take-out lunch and go to the farmer’s market on the way home from work, then prepare a healthy lunch in advance.
There are always sets of minutes in a day that can be “constructed” into health minutes. You simply need to prioritize your day, your week, your life—and establish the time. If you don’t, and your ills become chronic or life threatening, what good is your time then?
Do yourself, your family and your loved-ones a favor and break down that Time Barrier. It doesn’t exist; it’s an illusion. Time is an abstract concept, but its utility can be physically modified on the fly. Only laziness and lack of creativity makes time short. And we both know you’re neither lazy nor uncreative!
Barrier 2: Money
The second most common barrier to achieving perfect health is money. That is, having the financial means available to buy the best organic or free-range foods, receiving the best holistic treatments and taking only the highest quality herbs and supplements available.
A personal trainer costs money. A weekly massage costs money. Acupuncture gets expensive. Herbs are cheap, but their protocols are long so their costs add up. The main thing is to prioritize your wellness dollars.
If you are spending X amount on health each month, how can it be maximized? And if you are spending money on extra cable TV channels, expensive dinners and unnecessary clothing, then why not cut back on these and allocate the money for your health instead?
Despite what you were told in the 80s, it’s not how you look, it’s how you feel that counts! One of the best things you can do is to learn methods of reducing stress and some stretches and exercises you can do by yourself at any time of day or night. This will allow you to reduce your massage frequency and you will derive greater benefit from the herbs and acupuncture you are receiving.
I recommend consulting your holistic practitioner to get a clear picture of how many visits over what length of time will be required of you. You also want to know what herbs or supplements you may need to take and over what period of time. With this information you will know ahead of time (no pun intended), how much money you will need to allocate for your natural therapy.
With this information, you can begin to budget your wellness dollars accordingly. I highly recommend you not begin a course of treatment until you have the means to attend every required visit and to purchase whatever additional things are needed along the way.
There’s no sense in wasting money on half a therapy. And while you’re pulling resources together, work on your sleep/wake cycle, stress relief and diet. With clarity of costs and allocation of money in place, money will no longer be a barrier to your health.
Barrier 3: Beliefs
The third most common barrier to health is you own level of belief in what it is you are doing (or receiving) and what the result of that will be.
Are you on a fast? If so, do you believe it will do you good and deliver on the expected results?
Are you receiving CranioSacral therapy or Rolfing? Do you think the sessions are helping, or will help if you follow them through their prescribed course of treatment?
My point is, many people who begin and then drop out of holistic therapies do so because they lose faith in the method of care they are receiving. This either happens because the practitioner has made unrealistic promises or the patient was expecting different results than the ones gained. And most Americans want fast and easy results. Managing goals and expectations is the key.
By their very nature, alternative therapies are not fast—but they are generally safe, holistic, non-invasive and, if followed through, their results can be long lasting and life changing. When working with alternative therapies of any kind, you must obtain a clear picture of what may and may not happen, and over what period of time.
Managing your goals (e.g., “I want to be pain free by July 4”) and your expectations (e.g., “At the very least, I expect to be gardening again in April”), you will be able to ‘hold the course’ as the treatment progresses.
The best way to overcome the belief barrier is to discuss the therapeutic method at length with the practitioner who is offering the service. Ask for reading material. Ask for case studies. Talk to other patients. Put Google to work for you, too.
By doing this you will empower yourself with enough information to know that the program is either not the right one for you, or that you can rightfully dedicate time, money and effort to it.
In closing, I want you to know that I understand that you may be at the end of your rope. You have already spent huge sums of money, time and effort trying to get better, to become pain free, to lead the life you desire. But your life isn’t over and there is plenty of time left to truly live. All you have to do is redouble your courage, dig your heels in and: 1) make the time, 2) allocate the money, and 3) believe in the outcome.
By breaking down the barriers to health, nothing can block your path to the healthy pain-free life you so rightly deserve!
— Dr. Mark Wiley