Don’t get me wrong! I’m not saying I like being sick, but when that does happen, I am motivated. I have questions and I want answers. Look, I don’t like the way symptoms feel any more than you do but what I am saying is that symptoms interrupt the path we’re on and tell us to make changes in our course. Symptoms make us pay attention. So listen closely to the next thing I want to say here. Symptoms are not the problem, symptoms are symptoms of the problem.
The reason we really need to get that is we live in a world that focuses on the sniffle, the cough, the fever, the ache, or the pain. In that world, the solution involves pills or potions to eliminate those symptoms. That misses the point. The problem is still there. Symptoms are only there as a warning sign. In fact, in some bizarre twist, we’ve been led to believe that if we get rid of the symptom we have returned to health. Just removing symptoms without recognizing the need to make a change is like turning off a fire alarm without putting out the fire. Yes, the annoying loud noise has stopped but there is still a serious problem that needs attention.
No disease affects every person in the world. Think about the seasonal flu as an example. When the flu season hits, warnings go out for old people and for infants. Do you think the flu virus knows how old a person is? No, the virus infects those who are vulnerable. Usually that means the very old or the very young. But even within those groups, not every old person or infant gets the flu. Only the ones who are most vulnerable. Doesn’t it make sense to focus on making ourselves less vulnerable instead of the best way to treat diarrhea?
So, why do I like symptoms? Because I want to be healthy. Symptoms tell me how I’m doing. When symptoms show up, I know I have become vulnerable. They let me know I need to do a little self check to see how that happened. Am I too stressed? Am I too tired? Am I pushing myself too much? Lots of times, when I am so focused on getting a project done, I overlook my health in favor of finishing my work. Symptoms get my attention back on my health.
Here is a checklist I use when symptoms show up. I go down this list and grade myself in each area, then I make the needed changes.
1) Am I getting enough rest? This isn’t simply enough sleep but enough down time for restful activities like reading, meditation, or stretching. I find this is the most frequently overlooked point.
2) Am I eating well? When I feel bad, too often I realize I have been eating more for convenience than for health. This includes making sure I’m drinking enough water.
3) Am I getting enough physical activity? We were made to move. Blood circulation is our body’s method of getting rid of toxins faster.
4) What is my mindset? Am I edgy? Mental attitude affects our posture and energy. I’m never more lethargic than when I lose sight of the the good things in my life.
5) Do I need to get some help? Sometimes I need some and it speeds my return to optimum function. I’m still surprised after an adjustment or massage at how my perspective improves. That’s true whether I’m symptomatic or just getting “tuned up”.
Nobody likes the way symptoms feel, but stop for moment and think about why you don’t feel well instead of just how to feel better. Making a change that makes us healthy leads each of us closer to the best version of ourselves.