Dealing with Currents of Change
Our lives are meant to be ever-changing, moving along with the currents of events, culture and the environments we live in. As Darwin points out, we need to adapt to survive. It means that every new day can present unique challenges, whether incrementally small or sudden and big. Therefore, it is helpful when we can ride the currents instead of fight against them. It is possible to accept and embrace change as a constant natural evolution in our lives, welcoming new or revisited information, ideas, and solutions.
However, it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose sight of our good intentions. Perhaps you are a professional trying to keep up with work, your personal life, and advancement with an ever-growing to-do list. Maybe you are struggling with health that, over time, has become unmanageable, or you are a caretaker for someone in need. Things do not always occur because of a choice that we make, for better or worse. Also, too much change at one time, whether positive or negative, can overwhelm. So, there is the question of how much a person can handle on a regular basis. The amount and rhythm of changes are often not in our control either. The feeling of giving up control can cause fear, stress, and anxiety in many.
As the New Patient Engagement Director, I often get calls from people who are overwhelmed for a variety of reasons both physically and mentally. The UltraWellness Center has supported a lot of people to change their health for the better. Yet, in order to have a successful outcome, a patient must truly partner with the doctor’s team. This partnership must start before a person even walks in the door on the day of their first appointment. If you are planning to partner with a Functional Medicine practitioner, here are some questions you should ask yourself before diving in:
- Am I open to Functional Medicine treatment?
- Do I trust the doctor and their support team?
- Am I willing to invest time, energy, and money into implementing the recommended treatment including diet, lifestyle, and attitude? Even if I don’t see the results I want right away, knowing that treatment can take time?
- How determined am I to follow treatment for 6 months or more?
Once you answer these questions and are ready to work in partnership with your team, it is important to have realistic expectations along the way. It may be difficult to open yourself up to new ways of thinking or to change habits with which you have grown accustomed. If that is the case for you, avoid jumping into too much all at once. Make smaller changes at a time. Slow and steady wins this race. Here are some suggestions that come from patients who have experienced positive outcomes on their journey to wellness:
- First, get clear about where you want to go! Visualize the positive change you would like to see in detail. Make it really palpable in your mind. Focusing on something can lead you closer to making it a reality because you are actually creating a targeted mindful intention around it. With greater awareness, you can replace some of that negative chatter in your head with powerful intentions.
- If you are changing your diet, try focusing on what you can eat by replacing a couple of foods at a time with other delicious choices. Play with it by exploring what else is out there—discover some alternatives and have fun experimenting with new foods in the kitchen.
- If you are trying to increase exercise, find an activity or sport that you will enjoy! You may like going to the gym, or you may dread it! Perhaps you would benefit from building social opportunities around an exercise routine. Walk with friends, play tennis, or join a local sports team that meets occasionally for a fun game of soccer or basketball. Join a fitness center and take classes like Zumba or exercise the spirit and the body with yoga.
- Research has confirmed that there are many benefits to meditation, but trying to do too much at once may be difficult. Instead, start small by creating a regular time every day in your busy schedule, even just 5 to 10 minutes. Meditation will calm the mind, rest the body and strengthen your intentions. In a short while, you may find you want 20 to 30 minutes a day.
- A positive attitude and belief system will help you to make healthier choices so you feel better. Feeling better is very motivating, and in turn will help you stay committed to your heath goals just because you start to crave that good feeling. Also, appreciating what is meaningful in our lives, no matter how small, can renew our raison d’etre—or reason to be.
We may not be able to control the constant change around us, but we can at least contribute with our thoughts, heart, and actions to help us find positive outcomes.
Pamela Dreyfus Smith