Do you ever find yourself Googling a prescription or a diagnosis, and then questioning everything from the long lists of side effects to conflicting methods of treatment?

Conventional medicine continues to be the first choice in healthcare for most Canadians however, a growing number are exploring complementary and alternative healing methods as part of their overall approach to health and wellness. Back in the ‘60s when I was growing up, our family physician made house calls and medical doctors were considered the experts in all aspects of healthcare. But times have changed – significantly– thanks in part to the explosion of the internet and the ease with which we can access health-related information on every topic imaginable. As well, our increasing interest in self-care can be attributed to:’

  •  Our growing desire to understand the impact of taking prescription medicine
  • The convenience of ‘Walk In’ clinics and treating symptoms in a timely manner at the expense of developing a doctor-patient relationship
  • Our increasing curiosity around, ‘what else could I be doing to help myself?’

My Path to Holistic Health
The field of holistic healing is defined by Merriam-Webster as, ‘relating to or concerned with complete systems rather than treatment of parts; in medicine holistic treatment addresses both the body and mind.’
My own interest in the field of holistic health started back in university when I took my first yoga class. Reluctantly I’d joined a friend who wanted to try it, but after that initial class I walked away with a knowing that I felt so much better than when I’d walked in. Beyond feeling relaxed, I felt energized and fit – without having even worked up a sweat! For the next few years I attended classes weekly, and when I wasn’t able to make it to class I practiced yoga on my living room floor. Gradually however, as my career and family priorities began to spill over in to my spare time, my personal wellness took a back seat to the needs of those around me.

When I was in my late 40s I was downsized from my 20+ year career at Nortel Networks. At the time Nortel had begun a downward spiral that would ultimately lead to its bankruptcy. My fellow employees and I had been part of the company’s global growth, but then the tide turned. As the stock price began to drop customers became uneasy and working in the constant state of flux was so unsettling that many employees developed health challenges – both physical and mental.
On the day I was let go I first met with my immediate supervisor and HR to discuss the details of my severance package. Once the review was complete they left, and a counsellor came in to assess my overall wellbeing. Although I had anticipated this day coming I hadn’t known exactly when it would be, and I recall sharing with the counsellor the steps I’d taken to prepare myself for it. I’d returned to my yoga practice, increased my exercise routine, and committed to having regular massages. The piece of advice she then offered has stayed with me to this day – “listen to your body not your head.
She assured me that while thoughts would surface around the ‘what if’s’ and ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda’s’ I needed to just keep moving. By keeping my body as active as my mind, it would help me to achieve balance and stay grounded while I worked out my ‘what’s next?’ And it worked. So well in fact that here I am years later highlighting the importance of listening to your body as a means to achieving a mind-body-spirit balance.

Practise makes perfect
Some of the methods I’ve studied and practiced over the years include tapping, reflexology, Feldenkrais (awareness through movement) energy medicine, HeartMath and meditation. And whether you’re already familiar with some of these practices – or they’re completely new to you – I’ll be posting in future blogs information on each of them including why you’d consider exploring them, the health issues they address, how they’ve helped others. I’ll even list resources you can access to find out more.

The one thing they all have in common is that they can be practiced anywhere at any time – and they don’t require special tools or equipment. They all serve to decrease stress, work with the body’s natural healing abilities, and provide an overall sense of wellbeing. As our body changes with age our approach to wellness needs to adapt right along with it.
Self care is the new health care and is opening doors to allow us to live better as we live longer!