“That’s a great golden nugget that’s going in my tactical toolbox”
– Joe Teti
If a skill is defined as: the ability to do something well; then making your health a skill is both important and something you can learn.
That’s all about making good lifestyle choices and finding tools for your health toolbox that enhance your ability to build on the goal of developing that skill of health.
This is the first in a series on useful skills and tools that you can add to your health toolbox today.
My health coaching practice is all about personalising your healing protocol. At it’s most basic, that means trying different tools and tips out for size; seeing if they work for you. I’m all for creating routines and rituals to help you ‘idiot-proof’ your protocol – crowding out the stuff that isn’t serving you and adding in practices that do.
Here are today’s 3 skills to add to your health toolbox…
1. Keep a Food and Mood Journal
In my view, the single most important tool in your personal health toolbox is your food and mood journal.
In a nutshell, regularly and consistently tracking your food and mood:
- shows you exactly what is going in your mouth each day
- including what you may need more/less of
- helps you to understand what’s under control and what needs work by providing insights you may otherwise miss
- assists you in planning your nutrient dense meals with lots of variety
- keep you honest
- provides the means to identify triggers
- allows you to identify trends and patterns that you may not otherwise see
- proves invaluable when it comes to reintroducing foods after being on an elimination diet
I have written more extensively about just why I think it is so important here.
It doesn’t matter what medium you choose for tracking. What does matter is that you do it!
2. Schedule Self Care
Regardless of whether or not you suffer from chronic illness, there is mounting evidence that the social media images we are exposed to every day affect our feelings of self worth.
Practicing self compassion has been shown to help mitigate feelings of depression and anxiety that come from constantly comparing ourselves to others’ seemingly perfect lives, and the corresponding ‘perfectionistic’ tendencies that we may develop as a result. This Reuters article talks to this in more detail.
Regularly scheduling self-care is the first step in practising self compassion. It can be anything you do that helps to maintain your physical, mental or emotional health. Things like exercise, doing the things you love and using relaxation techniques are all good examples of self-care strategies. A good self-care regime will help you feel healthy, relaxed and more resilient.
Some strategies for your self care protocol are:
- Make time for it – Set aside time each day to practise self-care. Even if it’s just a few minutes, or as long as an hour or two, make a date with yourself and do something that makes you feel good or relaxed.
- Honour your self care appointments – If a friend or colleague wants to see you or needs a favour during your self-care time, just tell them you’re busy. Because you are busy. Busy looking after yourself!
- Be prepared – Create a list of self-care activities that you enjoy, or want to try. Some possible options include: swimming, walking, meditating, napping, reading, rebounding, doing yoga or breathing exercises, cooking, drawing, playing sport, hanging out with pets, creative writing or ‘journalling’.
- Check-in with yourself – At the start of your self-care time, take a moment or two to check in with yourself on how you’re feeling at that very moment. What self-care activity would work best for you at this time?
- Learn to switch off – This can be hard, especially if you’re used to thinking life’s problems at home. Self-care is the time to focus only on you! If switching off is a challenge for you (as it is for me), try doing something that diverts your attention. I’m a fan of taking the dog for a walk or jumping on my rebounder.
- Develop some quick fixes that work for you – If you’re absolutely frazzled and short on time, learn some strategies that you can focus on for just a few minutes. Breathing exercises and stretching are great. You can do them quickly and just about anywhere!
If you’d like some strategies for developing your self-care arsenal – check out this article.
3. Daily Oil Pulling
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy that uses natural oils to clean and detoxify teeth and gums. It is reputed to have the added effect of whitening teeth naturally (although, now that coffee is back in my life I haven’t noticed this as a personal benefit!)
The concept is really simple. You swish a couple of teaspoons of oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes. You then spit it out and rinse thoroughly.
Traditionally, back in India, oil pullers used virgin sesame oil. I use raw coconut oil because it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and enzymatic properties.
There is mounting evidence that oil pulling is beneficial in improving gum health and removing harmful bacteria. But, it is so much more than that, too. Research now tells us that the health of your mouth is critical to the health of your whole body. This is quite logical when you consider that digestion begins in the mouth. An unhealthy oral cavity increases our risk of developing chronic disease, heart disease, cancer and neurological illness like Alzheimer’s.
Oil pulling is both an easy and inexpensive way to improve the balance of good bacteria in your mouth.
To learn more about how oil pulling helped my oral health and how I do it, head over here.