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This article was originally published in the Ocala Star Banner, July 5, 2009


Self-care is the best kind of medicine

By Michael D. Thomas
Guest columnist

Published: Sunday, July 5, 2009 at 6:30 a.m.

We will spend an estimated $3 trillion dollars this year on our health care here in the United States. A bit of math tells us that this is nearly $10,000 for every man woman and child in the country.

Something is very wrong here.

It is estimated that 70 percent of the problems we go to doctors for are preventable in the first place, if we actually took care of ourselves. The problem is that we have become convinced that we can’t take care of ourselves. Corporate commercials tell us this on TV several times an hour. Most people now agree that the system is broken. At the national level there are rumblings about national health care reform.

A seemingly endless parade of negative news has made many of us feel helpless and depressed – and apathetic. Too many of us sit glued to the tube watching news and commercials put out by the mega-corporations that serve to disempower us all. It is time to take back our lives and our health. It is time to take care of ourselves because, frankly, no one else will do it for us. I have no idea how to fix America’s health care system, but I do know how to cut the costs in half by taking care of ourselves.

Self-care is safe, cost effective and puts you back in charge of your own life. Obviously, doctors and medicine have a place and are of critical value at certain times. But the vast majority of the time you are fully qualified to take care of yourself. You don’t need anyone else to tell you that it’s all right to do so.

So what is self-care? That we even need to ask the question is part of the answer. How are you doing? Checking in several times a day can be very enlightening.

Moving from a sedentary existence to light activity makes the greatest improvement in health, according to some very large studies that have been conducted.

Emotional health is essential, too. Are you upset all day long? Are you angry? Frightened? Can you stop periodically and feel a bit of love in your heart? (Maybe for yourself first, and then for all the rest of us, too!) Could you do that a few times a day? Studies show that simple act can improve your health more than you may have imagined. Staying angry and frightened has real detrimental effects that create disease and premature death.

Breathing is an easy area to examine. Most of us don’t breathe deeply (usually less than a fourth of our capacity) and this has strong, long term ill-effects on our lives. Do you ever take time out for meditation and or prayer? Quiet time is essential to our health.

Notice that there is nothing to buy yet. The cost is taking part in your own life. Nutrition, too, is an area we all have to work at these days.

These are just a beginning, but the real healer is inside you. With our lives, we either activate this power or we turn it off through our actions and thoughts. If you are healthy, you want to stay that way. If you are starting to have problems or if you have a lot of problems, there are steps to take that can fundamentally move you back to health. You can work with your doctor to find a safe way to begin. Alternative medicine is chock full of people who have non-drug and non-surgical approaches to health care.

Prevention is easier (and much cheaper!) than disease treatment. Life is more fun when we are healthy enough to enjoy it. Stop being a passenger in your own life and become the pilot. Self-care is public health at its finest!

Dr. Michael D. Thomas is a chiropractor who has been practicing in Belleview for 15 years.