5 holistic health hacks that won’t cost the earth

(This cheesy 80s aerobics video will get you pumped!)

Lets face it, cultivating health can be REALLY expensive. Mind boggling, heart attack-inducing, paralysingly pricey. In fact so much so that sometimes it defeats its own purpose.

Fortunately with doctor google, a discerning eye, some cheesy videos and a bit of common sense there are ways to implement our own more affordable holistic health regime without breaking the bank.

On my journey of healing chronic gut pain, I’ve tried many different holistic health products and services, many of which were a great waste of money. However eventually I found the tools that did serve me, and now I live mainly without any pain. Naturally my mood is a lot brighter too when my physical health is good.

So here are 5 tools that helped me navigate the holistic health world on a tight budget… and some happen to be good for the planet too!

1. Find a holistic physician/ GP who has additional qualifications in nutrition (or who is at least knowledgeable/ interested in nutrition)

Seeing a medical doctor with a good understanding of nutrition is like receiving two services for the price of one. They might be a bit more expensive but overall it’s great value. I see an awesome integrative GP/nutritionist and her tips and advice on adjusting my diet reduces the risk of future ailments and potential pharma expenses down the track.

If you can’t afford such a practitioner consider writing a letter to your preferred health professional to explain your financial situation and offer to barter services, volunteer at the clinic or pay it forward later when you’re in a better position. I’ve don’t this a couple of times now and it worked out really well.

2. Only take vitamins if your dietary intake is inadequate, and if it is change your diet. 

Many holistic doctors will encourage you to take supplements, which is fair enough since so many of us have inadequate diets and are too lazy to make changes. However, some doctors get huge commissions from vitamin companies and have a vested interest in pushing certain brands and regimes onto their patients. My doctor told me upfront she doesn’t take commissions and as such I find her advice more balanced and trustworthy in this area. Each to their own but supplements can be crazy expensive. I personally would rather prioritize my spending on better quality food.

There’s a disclaimer on many vitamin pill bottles which goes something like “vitamins may only be of assistance if your dietary intake is inadequate.”… so you have a choice here, you can either work towards a diet that IS adequate or take expensive supplements.

Having said that there are all sorts of arguments out there about why supplementation might be helpful/ necessary even when your diet is great. You can always give supplements a go and see if they help you, (they never helped me) but if you’d rather explore other options here are a few ways to “up your vitamin intake” naturally.

  • Consider buying organic or biodynamic produce where soil enrichment practices are often implemented. If it taste good that’s a good sign that the produce is nutrient dense.
  • If you can’t afford the above consider buying at least some things organic or growing your own veggies. Even just a few plants can make a huge difference.
  • Eat veggies or salad for breakfast. Most people eat bland cereals for breakfast which aren’t particularly nutrient dense. I’ve grown to love eating a non-traditional breakfast such as tufu, nuts and veggies or fish and veggies with a liver cleansing Asian lemon dressing. Try it before you knock it, I swear it’s awesome!!

2. Exercise 

Intuitively most of us know that exercise is good for us. But if you need further convincing Google “scientific studies on exercise” and you can find endless research on the topic. Exercise is particularly awesome for mental health as it releases powerful feel good chemicals in the brain.

Exercise doesn’t need to be expensive. Simply walking, especially briskly or around hilly areas delivers great returns. I used to do Ashtanga hot yoga (at $17 per class) which was very challenging and used to hurt my knees for some reason. As hard as I tried I found it stretched me beyond my limits.

So I gave myself a more realistic challenge: if I could achieve simply walking most days for over a year then I was ready for hot yoga or something else more intense. And I did it .. one year of walking almost every day. After that year I found I really enjoyed walking and wanted to keep going with it..rather than going back to yoga. I also really enjoyed how it’s free! So to up the challenge from there I decided to continue walking and add aerobics videos to the mix (and an occasional $17 fitness class).

I got a cheesy workout DVD set from a thrift store (go captain planet!) , which I did religiously for 5 years! I even used to do the videos in the back yard with my housemates. We’d play a video on a lap top hooked up to speakers and get the benefits of the sun at the same time. It probably seemed a bit crazy to our neighbours but it was so cheesy fun!!! (weirdly the song “Let’s get physical” just came on in the cafe where I’m writing this.. ha love the timing!)

3. Go to student clinics for muscular skeletal or alternative therapy 

Muscular skeletal therapies like osteopathy and massage can be $100 + per session! That’s more than my food budget for the whole week. You can often find student clinics housed within universities which offer these services and much lower rates. For example, I went to a student Osteopathy clinic when I sprained my ankle earlier in the year and it cost $20 for a session.

You get a 4th year student supervised by an experienced clinician/ teacher. They always come in to check what’s going on and make sure the therapy is correct. These guys have literally saved the day for me a number of times over the years.

4. Explore free meditation online or at buddhist centres

There is growing scientific research demonstrating the benefits of meditation. Yesterday I posted a few introductory videos on the benefits, which offer a good place to start if you’ve never tried it before.

Mindfulness meditation is the term you will hear most often as it’s found its way into standard psychological therapy. I’ve really enjoyed Jon Kabat-Zinn’s guided sessions such as this body scan.

If you prefer to go somewhere and mediate with a group of people there are often free or low cost sessions at community centres, buddhist centres or temples. Be careful of cults though, some groups might appear like traditional religious centres but are actually destructive cults. If in doubt look them up on the Cult Education Institute forum to see what other people are saying or enter at your own risk!

5. Channel your own health guru then write a contract to yourself… and sign it!

Many of us already know what we need to do to achieve better health. We all have an inner health guru that’s loaded with sound advice. Much of it is common sense, such as the ideas explored above but often we don’t actually DO what we know will help.

For me I sometimes think I won’t stick to a goal and get sucked into pessimistic ideas based on previous failures. To overcome this I created a note book where I list a goal/ intention and then if I achieve it later I write about it on the opposite page. This reminds me, every time I set an intention that I have previously succeeded many times before.

I have also found the simple process of writing a contract to myself and signing it quite helpful. Some people suggest making yourself accountable to others such as publicly announcing a goal and asking others to hold you to it.  If you can find people who truly will hold you accountable then great but I have found this process backfired when people were a bit half assed about checking in and seeing if I actually was doing what I set out to. At the end of the day you’ve got to find that spirit within that wants you to succeed and be accountable to it. (note to self!)

If you’ve read this far then well done! I hope some of it has been helpful and wish you the best of luck on your health journey 🙂

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Body scan meditation

I’m in the process of writing a few posts which are taking a bit longer than expected… some interesting topics coming soon though including an inspiring recovery interview and an article about holistic health hacks on a budget!

Yesterday I sent these three videos over to a friend who’s never tried meditation and was considering giving it a go. If you’re in the same boat and wondering about the potential benefits of meditation and where to start here’s a few interesting videos worth exploring.

The first video from Beyond Blue, explains meditation and how it can rewire the brain and lead to better overall welbeing. The second is a TED talk by a neuroscientist who lead some studies on how meditation changes the grey matter in the brain. The third is an actual meditation session lead by Jon Kabat-zinn, who was instrumental in bringing mindfulness meditation to mainstream western psychology.

Coincidence or a sign? 

Yesterday I was driving to the local shops and contemplating the idea of “positive energy.”  I was was literally thinking the thought “could I be choosing to put out more positive energy right now?” when suddenly an electrical service van pulled out of a driveway in front of me with this branding down the side:

logo

Positive energy, electrical company logo

I was so taken aback as it seemed to almost magically appear, like a visual echo of my thought. I laughed and said out loud, “thanks universe I guess I’ll take that as a sign?”

Later in the day, I was walking in a completely different area when the earlier incident popped into my head. Once again I contemplated the idea of positive energy and wondered if seeing the van was indeed a sign, a gentle nudge from a above suggesting I could work on generating more positive energy.

Then the same van drove past. AGAIN!

logo

Now I was really taken aback.

Maybe I could dismiss the first occurrence as a mere coincidence but the second? The timing was just too crazy weird.. almost twilight zone level spooky. I stopped in my tracks and laughed again. “Okay universe, I’ve got to be positive. I get it.”

giphy (1)

I should add that Positive Energy, is not a large company that you see around everywhere. In fact I’d never heard of them until yesterday.  So it did really feel like a strange occurrence.

What do you think? A coincidence or a sign? Some people call this confirmation bias but that just spoils the fun (or positive energy) now doesn’t it?

 

 

Is too much screen time making us miserable?

An interesting TED talk presented by Psychologist Adam Alter who has studied the rise of screen time and its effect on our wellbeing. Interestingly health related screen time reading makes us feel happier than social media. A win for this blog! ha ha.

But seriously we may need to do some honest self-reflection about how much time we spend hooked on apps that don’t actually contribute to us positively. It could be time to hit the second hand bookshop and stock up for some some old school “print on paper” time.

Wanted: your recovery story

I just watched this amazing recovery story, featured on the Council for Evidence Based Psychiatry site. Wow so awesome. I’ve never heard voices before but I imagine it would be terrifying.. what a brave chick to embrace this part of her and manage her health holistically..  (and nice name too ha ha same as mine .. Rach’s rock)!

Have you recovered from mental illness or substance abuse? Could your story also help others rise up from rock bottom and better manage the challenges of life?

I’m looking for people to interview for this blog who have recovered or are recovering from mental health issues or substance abuse. In particular I’m looking for people who have taken a holistic road to healing: those who have explored therapies such as counselling, exercise, alternative medicine, herbs, yoga, spirituality, support groups or other health modalities.

If you’re interested in participating or would like to know more comment below and I’ll reply shortly. What if your story was exactly what someone else needed to hear?

I look forward to hearing from you!

 

The paradoxical process of wellness

learning to dance

Set the vision then let it go. Allow what is and trust the process. 

You may notice a number of contradictions in my blog posts. One day I may post about the Law of Attraction and benefits of positive thinking whilst another day I might discuss the healing power of allowance and complete acceptance of what is, warts and all.

The reason for exploring opposing ideas is not because I’m changing my mind all the time,  but because I believe a wellness mindset involves utilizing a variety of tools, even when they are seemingly contradictory.

For example consider the process of learning something new, lets say hip hop dance. You’ve decided you want to learn to dance and so you register for a dance class. Pre class you get a bit nervous fearing that you might look silly or fail to pick up the steps easily. To deal with that you might think positive encouraging thoughts like “it will be great exercise no matter what” ..”a bit of nerves is normal as I haven’t danced since I was a child” .. “it’s just a class and it’s good to give things a try.” You may even visualize yourself street dancing and busting some rad moves. You get your self psyched enough to walk through the studio door!

Say when you’re in the class you find you’re messing up the steps way more than everyone else and feeling like a bit of a douche..  at this stage there’s a division between what is (your messy confused dance attempt) and what you would like to be (a rad street dancer busting some slick moves).

Here you might find it more useful to go into allowance mode, be present with what’s happening and try to be open and receptive to the instructions without the evaluation mind getting in the way. If you were to focus too much on your goal, or the conflict between what is and what you would like to be in this instance, you might continue to feel crappy and sad when you mess up a step…. because it may take time to become that vision.

I think focusing on the goal and going into allowance are both useful, just at different times. You pop in and out of perspectives depending on what’s more effective at any given moment. Does that make sense? Or maybe I am speaking the obvious here. For some reason I had to take some time to wrap my head around these contradictions! .. and it’s still a work in progress.

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Krishnamurti debunks McMeditation

quote-my-only-concern-is-to-set-men-absolutely-unconditionally-free-jiddu-krishnamurti-244773

Jiddu Krishnamurti was a philosopher, speaker and writer. In his early life he was groomed to be a guru and world teacher but later renounced and disbanded the cult organisation built around him. Nevertheless, he continued to give talks on topics such as psychological revolution, the nature of mind, meditation inquiry, human relationships, and bringing about radical change in society. He died in 1986.

Krishnamurti, often called “K”, was renowned for exploring mediation from the perspective of “choiceless awareness,” and popularised the saying “the observer is the observed.”

K believed too many fraudulent gurus had corrupted the word “meditation” over the years and grossly profited from their various “McMeditation,” novelties. But true mediation, according to K, can only occur when all seeking and effort comes to and end. When the mind is choicelessly aware of it’s own confusion, contradiction and disorder. That is the beginning of meditation.

His talks are slow going, but I think that was the point, to slow the mind, boil things down to their most simplest fundamentals, and encourage inquiry until that time where insight, stillness and space occurs naturally.

It took me a while to grasp his message as sometimes it seems to be going nowhere but eventually it fell into place and I started to appreciate his ideas. They definitely grew on me.

In this video he explores the question what is meditation and where does it get you? It isn’t something you can take a quick look at. It will bore you to tears if you try that. If you’re interested I recommend taking some time out to really give it a chance. The book “Freedom from the Known” is also a good place to start.

http://www.jkrishnamurti.org/krishnamurti-teachings/view-video/what-is-meditation-part-4-of-4.php

 

 

6 dollar remedial massage

chlorine is my perfume

Swimming some laps is as good as a massage – and the aftermath.. parfum! 

I woke up this morning feeling stiff and achy, like my body could use a decent remedial massage. In an ideal world I’d get a remedial massage once a week for the ultimate chillax factor. However, being the frugal lass that I am I find that swimming achieves the same end result. Plus it has additional health benefits like building endurance, muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness.

It’s been several months since I visited the pool for a swim. Being the heart of winter it can be difficult to convince yourself that it’s worth the effort. But today my body was like, “just do it, I really needs some respite from this whole gravity business.” .. and it worked …

mermaid

I don’t know if it’s the exercise, regimented breathing or the chorine fumes but I always feel pleasantly spaced out after swimming laps. I came home ate dinner and then fell asleep on the coach.. the kind of sleep that feels deeply restorative.

I have a friend who swears by swimming and goes religiously every friday night. He says it’s the only way to “stay sane in an insane world”. This is a poster he has hanging on his kitchen wall.

Moral of the story! Go swimming. It’s only 6 bucks (or thereabouts) !!

swimming

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The Truth about Mental Health is an affiliate of Playing the Matrix, an online empowerment course facilitated by legendary author Mike Dooley. Learn the tools to get what you (really) want and thrive in this crazy world. 

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