The Fundamentals of Healing
On New Years Eve, I fell down a whole flight of stairs. A whole flight of very steep stairs with about 15 steps. Ouch. That hurt. I hurt. My body hurts. My self-esteem hurts. My pride hurts. I guess it happens. These things. We injure ourselves. We get sick. We suffer from disease. Or maybe just from heartbreak. It seems many of these things have impacted me over the course of the past few years. After the brutal fall, I spent the first day of the year on bed rest. I was unable to move, was couch-surfing a friend’s couch for the week and was in a lot of emotional and physical pain.
The second day of the year I spent in the emergency room, fearing that I may have broken my foot. Luckily, an x-ray revealed no break and the doctor confirmed it was a very severe sprain that could take months to recover from. Additionally, my body was covered in black and blue marks—my spine, my shins, my forehead and my wrists all dotted with dark and moody spots. Even more than that, my body just ached. And it still aches. So does my head, which is suffering from a mild concussion thanks to the whiplash of the fall. It’s been nearly one week and I don’t know that I’ve ever been in so much physical pain. On top of this experience, I am deeply homesick. Not because I want to go home, but because I crave a hug from my dad while he tells me everything is going to be all right, the comfort of my sister’s guest bed, waking up to my sweet nephew’s morning tears. As grateful as I am for the messages from friend’s, hugs from strangers and comfiness of the bed I’m currently resting my head in, nothing compares to family.
So what’s a girl to do? Learn how to comfort myself. It’s my turn to finally, finally learn how to show up for myself. I alway try to find the lessons, the silver lining, in suffering. How to take care of myself when I’m in a low point. Maybe this is the long overdue lesson. To return to the fundamentals of healing. To slow down my pace of life. To practice forgiveness. And to be kind to myself. Because I didn’t mean to fall down a flight of stairs. It was an accident. I can’t go back in time as much as I wish I could. All I can do in this moment is put one step in front of the other. To get back on the horse, so to speak. Even though it’s a really hard task when I’m so far away from everything I know to be comforting. Returning to the fundamentals of healing is my full-time job at the moment. I’m trying to avoid putting gasoline on the fire, at all costs. Instead, I’m working on soothing my mind, body and soul. This whole experience has forced me return to the fundamentals of healing, which I’ve come to utilize deeply over the years. The fundamentals of healing are helpful regardless of what ails you; they will help you heal and soothe from whatever is creating pain in your life in your body, mind or soul.
Nourishment // during times when I need to heal, the first thing I always do is zero in on my diet. I return to the most basic healing protocol I know, the AIP diet, which removes all common allergens. It is incredibly, incredibly anti-inflammatory. I feel that when I follow this protocol, it calms almost all inflammation in my body. However, do note that it can take time to really feel the effects—so I practice this protocol for a 30-day period. Inflammation is what we are trying to soothe and remove when healing. I focus on eating only nutrient-dense foods like gelatinous bone broths, fermented foods, lots of green vegetables, plenty of starchy root vegetables and virtually no sugar, caffeine or alcohol. I find this is the quickest way that I can help myself feel better. Additionally, I find it helpful to increase my intake of healthy fats like coconut, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil and so on while healing.
Hydration // we’re going way, way back to basics here. So yes, drinking plenty of water is very helpful during this phase because we are working to detox and flush out toxins. I generally drink lots of hot water with lemon, regular water, herbal teas and homemade infusions with fresh ginger, turmeric, lemon and honey.
Sleep // making sure to have deep and restful nights of sleep. Preferably in the range of 9+ hours. Sleep is when your body heals and repairs itself. With each night of deep sleep, I feel significantly better. I try to turn off my phone early, take plenty of magnesium to promote muscle and mind relaxation and close the curtains so my bedroom is as dark as possible.
Body work // I am such an advocate of moving your body in as many different ways and as often as possible. Unfortunately, I’m not in a place currently where I can do the kind of exercise that I would like to do. However, I am making sure to do what I can. Luckily, I can ride my bike even with a sprained ankle. I’ve also been walking as much as possible, but that’s been a bit harder. But at the very least, I try to just move around my house, stretch, massage my feet and slowly, I believe I will start to be able to add more and more movement to my routine. Additionally, any body work you can have done such as massage or chiropractic work is a huge advantage. After my fall, my whole body felt out of alignment. I found a fabulous Chiropractor here in Denmark and felt 100x better after some major back, neck, ankle adjustments.
Detox // super, super important while healing, friends. This is a time to implement all of the best tools for detox. There are so many ways to rid yourself of toxins. I’m going to share only a few of my “key” favorites. The first is using a tongue scraper. Each night, as your body cleanses itself, many toxins are deposited on your tongue. In the morning, the first thing I do is use my tongue scraper to remove those toxins. It takes about 5 seconds and instantly makes my mouth feel cleaner. The next thing I love to do is drink a hot water with lemon juice—again, great for detoxifying. Lastly, in Copenhagen, they have amazing bath houses where you can rent a bath and use the sauna/cold tub. I’ve been doing this a few times a week because it’s super cheap and a great way to detox. Basically, I draw a very hot bath (as hot as I can handle) and add plenty of epsom salt. I soak in the very hot bath for ten minutes and then I go into the cold tub for three dunks. This isn’t exactly enjoyable as you’ll get really hot and possibly even uncomfortable in the bath and then plunging in the cold is shocking. But it is really great for your heart and for promoting detox. After I do 3-5 rounds of hot/cold plunging, I then use the sauna for as long as I want. I aways feel a ton better after this. Lastly, I drink plenty of green juice + ginger/turmeric infusions to help combat inflammation and to make sure I'm getting all the micronutrients I need for detoxing.
Supplementation // Despite eating super clean and focusing on getting enough micronutrients during healing phases, supplementation is generally very important during this time (and in general, as much as I hate to admit it!) Some of my absolute can't-live-without supplements include cod liver oil, vitamin D and turmeric tablets.
Add-ons // Going beyond the basics of healing, internal work needs to be done as well. Focusing on staying positive, having gratitude and perspective around the situation and slowing down will truly help the healing process. Instead of resisting the "suffering" you may be feeling from your situation, work on trying to shift your perspective. I always think about what this experience is trying to teach me and remember that all the hardship I've been through have made me the dynamic person I am today. Mindset is literally EVERYTHING, friends. There will always be bumps in the road. Remember to reach out to friends, family and loved ones during these times. This has been particularly hard as I don't have any "deep" relationships here in Copenhagen. Regardless, I am still reaching out to those who are new friends. I have also been in close contact with my family during this time and have basically been talking to every member of my family 1x per day. But sometimes a phone call isn't enough. The positive universal vibrations that can happen from simply touching another human being (a hug, handhold, cuddle) cannot be overlooked. So if possible, get as many hugs and snuggles as possible.
There will always be bumps in the road that is your life. I hope these fundamentals of healing can help smooth out the bumps.