by: Shaylyn Romney Garrett
If you’re concerned you may be dealing with a chronic illness, it can be overwhelming and
often hard to decide where to begin. While you should definitely seek the help of a qualified
physician, it’s important to know that the doctors you see may struggle to put your chronic
illness in perspective. This is why it’s so important to get really clear about your goals as well
as your symptoms so you can remain in the driver’s seat of your own healing journey. Try
following these 4 easy steps to get in touch with your body, oriented toward wellness, and
prepared for your journey back to health.
Step 1: Aim for Thriving, Not Surviving
How would you define the word, “normal”? We use it so often that we rarely stop to
consider what it actually means. Normal is defined as “the usual, average, or typical state or
condition” for a given group of people. So normal is a statistical reality—it’s neither good
nor bad, but just what’s most common for a given population.
Sadly, throughout the world we see that physical distress, chronic illness, and dependency
on medications have become “normal” conditions. So it’s sometimes easy to feel that the
symptoms you’re having aren’t that big of a deal because “Everyone feels anxious, tired,
and stressed—that’s just life. Right?” Wrong. When it comes to health and wellness,
remember that you’re reaching for optimal, not normal.
Human beings are built for thriving, and the body has incredible, inbuilt power to heal
when it is supported in doing so. Remember that no matter what condition, illness, or
disease you are suffering from, you can feel well again.
Don’t just set your sights on surviving, aim for thriving. It’s possible, and Return Healthy is
here to help.
Step 2: Don’t Get Frustrated, Get Curious
Once you set your sights on thriving, it can often be frustrating to see how far you are today
from that goal. And when you’re not well it’s easy to get into a negative relationship with
your body. Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why is my body doing this to me?” Dealing
with chronic illness can understandably make you feel frustrated and angry, but it’s
important to remember that your body is not your enemy. Your body is doing everything it
can to keep you alive under difficult circumstances, and it needs as much care and support
as you can provide. But when you allow yourself to express frustration and blame toward
your body (whether out loud or in your mind), you’re engaging in self-abuse, not self-care.
This only makes it harder for your body to heal and get back to wholeness.
Rather than getting frustrated when you experience a symptom, start getting curious. Ask
yourself where and when this particular symptom crops up. How often does it happen? Is it
correlated with a particular food, with your stress levels, or a lack of sleep? The more you
start to investigate symptoms the more you can find ways to alleviate them and get at the
root causes of what’s making you ill.
Don’t waste your energy getting frustrated. Get curious, and you’ll get closer to cure.
Step 3: Slow Down & Tune In
Getting curious means tuning in to the details. Just like a detective, you’ll need to listen
carefully and pay attention to all the clues. And the first way to do this is simply to slow
We live in a world that is constantly moving and constantly engaged. Being “busy” is a status
symbol—we’ve come to believe that being busy means we’re important because our time is
always in demand, and it’s easy to feel “lazy” if we’re not moving a million miles an hour.
But when you’re not well, your body needs you to slow down. Give yourself permission to
ease up, reduce your commitments, and stop to rest and reflect.
And keep in mind that slowing down is not just about “taking it easy.” It’s a very important
step toward figuring out what’s going on so that you can develop a plan of action. It’s when
you slow down that you allow your body the time and space to communicate its needs. And
when you start to hear, you can start to answer.
Slowing down, tuning in, and noticing and validating what you are feeling are vital steps to
start a process of healing.
Step 4: Track Your Symptoms & Look for Patterns
Once you start to slow down and tune in, you’ll notice things you never did before. You’ll
start gathering all kinds of information that you can use to chart the course for your healing
journey. But in order for that information to be useful, you have to write it down.
Get a notebook or calendar and begin tracking your symptoms—how you feel and when.
This includes all the negative symptoms as well as the positive ones. It’s just as important to
write down when you feel well as when you feel ill. It also includes your mental and
emotional states, because illness is more than just a physical concern.
As you get better at this, you’ll want to note down the following each day:
- Food & beverages consumed
- Supplements or medications taken
- Symptoms observed
- Previous night’s sleep (hours and quality)
- Bowel movements (number and quality)
- Notes on your emotional and mental states
Doing this for a couple of weeks can form a baseline that you can share with a doctor or a
health coach. And doing it throughout a course of treatment can help you see progress and
tweak your diet or your protocol for better results. For example, “every time I eat peanut
butter at breakfast I have gas and bloating later in the day,” or, “when I get less than 8 hours
of sleep, the next day my symptoms are much worse than normal.”
As you track your symptoms you will begin to see patterns that empower you to make
meaningful changes, which can dramatically improve your health outcomes.
If you’re not well but aren’t sure where to start your healing journey, just remember:
1. Aim for Thriving, Not Surviving
2. Don’t Get Frustrated, Get Curious
3. Slow Down & Tune In
4. Track Your Symptoms & Look for Patterns
Doing these four simple things can kick-start your journey back to health today!