How can you tell what is impacting your health and well being? This can be a hard question to answer because there are few medical tests to pinpoint what your body is reacting to. Thus, it is difficult for a doctor to answer this question for you. It requires some self investigation. I recommend familiarizing yourself with common factors that could be impacting you, so you can better determine what is weakening your health.
If you experienced a rapid onset of symptoms and declining health, ask yourself what changed in the interim between when you were healthy and when you started getting sick. Did you move houses? Get a new job? Acquire pets? Was your home or office renovated? Was there an increase in emotional stress due to family drama, changing job requirements or hours, or financial woes? Did your dietary habits change? Were you getting enough sleep? So on and so forth. Try to address any negative changes you identify.
If you aren’t sure whether something is affecting you or not, remove it from your life for a time, at least two weeks. Then reintroduce that item and see how you feel. This approach can apply to a wide range of factors, from environmental to emotional, as seen in the examples below.
To check if your daily surroundings are negatively affecting you, leave for a while and see how you feel when you return. For example, take a two week vacation somewhere else. Ideally, choose a place free from city pollution, indoor pets, and mildew problems, perhaps with a friend or relative who lives out in the countryside. If you have pets in your own house, just visiting somewhere without pets may be enough to indicate if pets are a problem for you. After your trip away, evaluate how you feel when you return home. See if you get a “cold” upon returning home, if your symptoms become more pronounced, or if you otherwise feel worse than when you were away. If so, take a couple more test trips to see if you always have more problems after returning home. If you find your home is making you ill, evaluate the stressors present at your home to improve your living conditions or move someplace better. I first realized my home was seriously making me ill after taking a few vacations and finding that I always “got sick” after returning home!
Improving your diet can do wonders for feeling better. If you regularly buy fast food, eat out, or buy pre-packaged meals, spend two weeks just eating food that you’ve made from scratch. If you don’t already, read the ingredients for everything you buy and avoid heavily processed foods. You might be surprised by what you’ve been eating!
If there’s one food, above all else, to try eliminating from your diet, it’s sugar. Whole fruit is fine, but avoid all other sugar sources. These include cane sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave syrup, rice syrup, tapioca syrup, and so forth. Don’t swap out sugar for sugar-free substitutes. The artificial sugars are even worse for health. While you can try reintroducing sugar after two weeks, I’d recommend avoiding it as much as possible. It’s not a healthy food choice for anyone. Additionally, if you’re trying to lose weight, dropping sugar will help you more than anything else.
Many people develop sensitivities to foods as their health declines. Adverse reactions to food can result in a wide variety of symptoms, not just those of the gastrointestinal tract. For example, symptoms like lethargy and migraines can both be worsened by reactions to certain foods. You can try eliminating suspected foods from your diet to see if it makes a difference.
If you are currently short changing yourself on sleep, grant yourself the time to get 8-9 hours of good sleep every night for a couple of weeks.
You might be surprised at how much even casual drinking can affect how healthy you feel. Try eliminating drinking for two weeks. Then reintroduce alcoholic beverages to see how you feel. If you use recreational drugs, this same advice applies.
If you are a heavy user, you might experience negative withdrawal symptoms from dropping any of these substances cold turkey. In this case, you will have to wean yourself off and stay off until all withdrawal symptoms disappear. Only then will you be able to tell how it affects your health.
Style & beauty products
You may not think twice about using things like perfume or hair gel, but these give off a heady dose of chemical fumes. Do a two week trial, eliminating things like perfume, cologne, hair spray, and hair gel to see much how they affect you.
Do you have friends or family hounding you for financial assistance? A boss who constantly throws you under the bus? Or an ex putting you through an emotional roller-coaster? If you have toxic people or situations in your life, try to put some distance between you and the stress factors for a couple of weeks. With individuals, this could mean physically removing yourself by taking a vacation, or it could mean removing them from Facebook, or blocking their phone number. In all cases, work on resolving emotional situations that are taking a toll on you. Choices include walking away from the cause, learning to accept it, or perhaps working through issues with the help of counseling. No matter how you settle it, the stressful situation should either be removed from your life, or coping mechanisms need to be learned so you are able to live without constant emotional stress negatively affecting your health.