Nowadays we are bombarded with dos and don’ts about our health.
Every week there’s some new advice about what we should or shouldn’t be eating or drinking, how much exercise we should be taking, the dangers of stress, the latest wonder drug or remedy, tests we should be having…. the list goes on. I, too, keep telling you what I think you should be thinking about with regards to your health – I even recently wrote about the importance of a preventative approach to better well being (If you missed the article and would like to read it then just click here).
But is this always a good thing?
When is too much information just too much? Could you be doing more than you need to to look after your health, and could this actually be doing you more harm than good?
In my own defence (!) I have, in the past, talked about the potential dangers of over doing things – the problems you may find with taking the wrong supplements or combinations of remedies, for instance (click here to read more), and why some so called ‘health’ foods may not be all that good for you. (Not seen this one? Then click here to find out more).
But what about some of the hidden effects of just being too health conscious?
The key to whether your efforts to look after yourself are useful or not relates to your motivation for taking action. If you’re approaching your health from a balanced, calm view point, knowing that, in one way, symptoms aren’t intrinsically ‘bad’ but just your body’s way of letting you know that it requires some help, then great.
However for many of us this isn’t actually the case.
Instead we are trying to resolve our health issues from a state of panic and fear. We see ourselves, and our bodies, as broken or malfunctioning, something going badly wrong that needs fixing straight away or else we’re doomed! And sadly this is an idea which is further perpetuated by the world around us. Look carefully at the advice given out regarding better health and you will see that most of it has an undertone of fearful thinking – you need to do this or else! And I’m also sad to say that many therapists don’t help, again liking to frighten clients into taking action by detailing all the negative aspects of what they’re finding, probably to be fair just in an attempt to prove their own knowledge and expertise, but not terribly helpful if you’re on the receiving end!
But why is being fearful a problem?
Surely if it prompts us into taking better care of ourselves then this must be good?
Well, not exactly.
Fearful thinking sets off a stress response in the body. Whilst helpful to deal with an immediate threat such as a bacterial attack on the body or a bus that’s about to run you over, such a response is not quite so good with longer term anxieties with no actual physical attacker – fearful thinking about your health, for instance! As a result rather than helping your health you could actually be making things worse as you ‘rev up’ your stress response more and more, affecting your blood pressure, digestion, Inflammatory levels in the body and more (now it’s me frightening you!).
So are you doing too much, trying just too hard to be healthy and coming at it from a state of fear and anxiety?
If you think you might be then give yourself a break – literally!
Take a week off from actively doing anything towards improving your health – just do what occurs to you to do in the moment. I can guarantee that from a clearer, calmer state of mind whatever your body prompts you to do will be far more useful than anything you come up with when you feel stressed and fearful.
And if a week feels too long then just take a few days off. Does that even feel impossible? Then a day will do!