Health coach Jen Wittman dives into the practical techniques you can do at home to feel better. Some of them weren’t that easy for her to wrap her head around at first and took a bit of courage and some gumption to finally try. Would you be willing to do all the things on this list if it could mean a drastic difference in your health? Even #7?!?!
Many of Jen’s tips are things I do myself to keep healthy however #7 is one that I’ve honestly hesitated to try. After this article I may just give it a go. You never know what will make a difference until you give it a try.
Written by Jen Wittman, Thyroid Loving Care
I looooove a brand new beginning, like the first day of a new month — or even better, a new year. It’s like a clean slate to start something new.
I’ve declared this the year of your health revolution (no more resolutions), but what does that look like? I’ve created a top-to-bottom list of 10 steps you can take to love your body back to health — from head to toe.
1. Mind: Meditation
Years ago, I was lucky enough to win a 3-day yoga retreat at the Chopra Center. What I found the most valuable from the retreat were the meditation sessions we had throughout the weekend. At the time, I couldn’t imagine myself sitting still for a moment… especially when I was in the throes of a thyroid induced panic attack. But, meditation has become a saving grace and a way to not only calm my nervous system down but helps me reset and focus as well.
As you probably know, your stress and mood have a major effect on your health. Meditating is a wonderful way to reduce stress, fight depression, and quiet the monkey mind, which can clear some of that brain fog. Using a guided meditation app, like the one I mention in this post, is a great way to get started! If you’re not ready for a full meditation practice, even some deep breathing is a great way to start.
My go-to technique is just to stop, close my eyes and take 10 deep breaths. You can do this anywhere and it takes less than a minute. On the inhale, say the word “breathe” to yourself. On the exhale, say the word “peace.” If you have a personal mantra, you can use that too. Use, whatever words you need at that moment or that resonate with you. Clearly, if you’re driving or stuck in traffic, keep your eyes open.
To deepen a breathing practice, I like to use this technique (this is good to do if someone has really stressed you out, you have a few minutes alone in your office or at night before bed).
Inhale for the count of 4.
Hold for a count of 7.
Exhale for a count of 8 making a “whoosh” sound.
Repeat 3 more times.
2. Mouth: Oil Pulling (using coconut oil) + general Oral Care
Earlier this year, during a particularly stressful time, I noticed inflammation creeping into my life in ways I had never experienced before. As we know, stress takes a heavy toll on many systems, but especially the gut-thyroid-adrenal access. With everything falling out of balance there for a minute, I ended up with the strangest bump in my mouth.
Being someone who immediately jumps to the worst case scenario first, I decided this was clearly the early signs of mouth cancer and imagined a million terrible scenarios playing out because of that. So, I immediately called the dentist, freaking out as I described what was going on with my gums. Of course, I DIDN’T have mouth cancer (I’m just a looney tune sometimes) but what I did have was caused by a high level of inflammation in my body caused by stress. More and more studies are proving that oral care is vital to overall health, and one of the simplest methods I like to support my oral care (beyond regular brushing and flossing!) is with oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy used to cleanse the body and enhance oral health. Beyond helping the body’s detoxification processes, oil pulling helps remove bacteria, parasites and other toxins from your teeth and mucous membranes, and reduces inflammation in your gums. It has also been shown to improve overall health.
After only one week of oil pulling for 20-30 minutes/day, that crazy thing on my gum went away, my teeth and gums were brighter and my tongue had less congestion. Find out how to do it and make it a part of your morning routine! Think you can’t fit it in? I do it while checking my morning emails.
3. Throat: Singing (a thyroid massage)
Wait, what? Yup. I’m telling you to crank up the radio, join the church choir, or belt it out in the shower — for your health. Singing helps your thyroid in a few interesting ways. First, by vibrating the vocal chords, you’re actually internally massaging the thyroid. When your vocal chords vibrate, it stimulates your thyroid to release thyroxine, a critical hormone that sets the cell metabolic rate. Studies have shown that children born mute and people who take vows of silence (like nuns) have low thyroid function — because they never use their voice!
And to give you a little “practical woo woo” as I like to call it, thyroid disease is considered in ancient medicine to be an energetic disorder of the 5th Chakra (or throat chakra as its known). And, spiritually speaking, that Chakra gets out of balance when we keep quiet and don’t use our voice — literally and figuratively. When we stuff our emotions, bite our tongues, hide our voice, often that energy gets blocked in the throat (our seat of communication) and manifests itself as a thyroid imbalance.
Getting back to singing, a hobby I love, was a game changer for my health and well-being. Don’t worry if you can’t carry a tune! Shut the door if you have to and just let the music move you.
4. Heart: Journaling
Another game changer for my healing was starting a journaling practice. Even five minutes a day, writing out the crazies helps keep my anxiety and depression in check.
One of the best things I ever did to help reverse this disease is to learn how to write. One of the most impactful recommendations by my darling osteopath was to use journaling to get out of my head. When anxiety creeps in, start writing. You can grab any ol’ piece of paper, keep a “panic diary” or use your journal. Acknowledge your anxiety and write out how you are feeling, what you are afraid of, what you believe is triggering the stress.
If nothing comes to mind, check out Rory’s Write To Be You blog archives which are full of simple writing prompts. I go through them whenever something stressful is living in my body which needs to get out. So grab your pen and figure out how to work five minutes of self-care into your schedule for a self-care check-in on paper — you’re going to thank me for this.
5. Lungs: 5 minute walk
Your body (and brain) needs some breathing space. My favorite way to get that breathing space is to go for a 5 minute walk. It’s about getting some fresh air, getting some sunshine, reconnecting with nature, and getting grounded. And 5 minutes is all it takes to see some benefits! You can fit that in at lunch, before or after dinner with the family (in Italy its done most evenings) or at a mid-morning or afternoon break. There’s always time for 5 minutes outside. It’s good for your lungs, your brain, your mood and your adrenals.
6. Belly: Go gluten-free
My husband and I saved up for 7 years so I could pursue my dream of cooking in Italy over a decade ago. ITALY, I said! Home of the most amazing, rich, pillow-like pasta you could ever hope to eat. Plus, I’m a Midwestern girl. I come from the land of bread with every meal, and twice at dessert!
Does it seem like I’m the kind of girl who could give up gluten? Well, I did. And here’s why….
Giving up gluten can feel daunting, but it’s the no. 1 best thing you can do to help your belly heal. Gluten molecules resemble thyroid tissue. What does this mean to you? It means that if you have intestinal permeability (leaky gut) or a sensitivity to gluten, your body will mistakenly attack your thyroid believing it is attacking the gluten molecules.
It helps relieve brain fog, and improves gastrointestinal function, stomach acid production, adrenal hormone metabolism, changes in brain chemistry and liver detoxification. If you haven’t already done it, I want you to commit to quitting gluten right now. Your gut will thank you.
7. Digestion: Coffee Enema
I know – I KNOW! It sounds gross. But adding coffee enemas to my healing routine has made a huge difference in my health and sped up my healing.
For two years, I had a coffee enema kit staring at me from our cupboard. STARING AT ME! Every time I’d go into that cupboard it would beckon me… “Why don’t you just give me a try?” it would say.
I would see it almost every day but I just couldn’t pull the trigger (so to speak!). I couldn’t bring myself to do it. But now I had the doctor telling me that this might be the key to helping me putting the final nail in the coffin on my gut troubles. While I’ve certainly reversed the leaky gut, we did find bacteria and yeast overgrowth. And, I still had ridges in my nails — a sign that I’m not fully absorbing vital nutrients.
It was time to face the brew and give this healing modality a shot.
So I did it.
WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO DO THIS?!?!?! Coffee enemas are frickin’ amazing! OMG — I can’t believe what a wuss I’d been and how that had kept me from a great tool in our healing arsenal.
You can do this in the privacy of your own home, or find a professional colon hydrotherapist who can help you if you’re not interested in DIY. But try it out – if a sissy like me can do it, anyone can! 🙂
8. Booty: HIIT (High Impact Interval Training)
When you’re dealing with thyroid disease, you have to find the right exercise balance for your body to optimize health and minimize adrenal stress. Exercise can help with a host of symptoms you may be experiencing plus alleviate depression by regulating brain chemicals norepinephrine and serotonin. You don’t even have to work hard enough to get a “runner’s high” to achieve the benefits.
Don’t let exercise, which should be a force for healing, be another thing that creates stress in the body. This isn’t about punishing your body or forcing it into a new shape; it’s about loving your body and respecting that it was designed to move.
How much exercise is too much? Since everyone’s body is different, this varies from person to person. Listen to your body. You’ll know you’ve found the right balance when you get a boost of energy and an overall sense of well-being.
My go-to solution for myself and my clients is high-impact interval training. The idea is to work hard for a short period of time, as little as 5 minutes, a few times a week. This kind of exercise has been shown to be just as effective (if not MORE) than traditional workouts of 30 or 60 minutes at a time.
9. Feet: Nightly Soothing Foot Massage Ritual
Massage is more than just a luxury. It’s true that it’s something you have to invest in, but as with so many of these healing steps, it’s an investment in your long-term health and well-being.
Medical studies have revealed that even a 10 or 20 minute massage can have therapeutic benefits including improving immune function, boosting circulation, reducing stress, reducing the time it takes to recover from injury, and alleviating pain. It can also reduce depression and anxiety and promote restful sleep patterns.
I am a bit of a massage connoisseur, logging in hundreds of hours of massage over the years, and I can tell you that the best, most relaxing, nerve calming, amazing massage I ever received was an acupressure massage on my feet. Wow! Just thinking of it now puts me in peaceful bliss.
Massage is awesome for detoxing your body and alleviating stress. It’s a key part of my self-care routine, whether I’m at a fancy spa or rubbing my own toes at home. This cool YouTube video shows you how to do a self foot massage, but scheduling a full-body massage is also a wonderful way to love your body back to health.
10. Whole Body: Dry Brushing
BONUS! Adding dry brushing to your morning routine is an amazing way to help your body wake up in the morning (no caffeine needed!), plus it’s an excellent practice for boosting your body’s detoxifying capabilities.
With all the fatigue and fog that can come with thyroid and autoimmune disorders, dry brushing is a welcome treatment. Before I was diagnosed, I drank gallons of coffee to keep my energy up. Now that I know it’s best to skip the coffee, I dry brush first thing in the morning. It only takes me 5 minutes!
The stimulation from my skin being brushed wakes me up in such a refreshing way that I now look forward to the brush instead of a Cup of Joe. It’s a pretty amazing experience and here are some of its benefits:
- Assists body’s lymphatic system to release toxins
- Exfoliates the skin
- Promotes cell regeneration
- Can improve cellulite (I’m still waiting to see those results! 😉
- Leaves you feeling energized and invigorated (no need for the coffee!)
This is how the Chopra Center suggests you dry brush.
All you need to get started is a good dry brush and 5 minutes or less — I like to do it right before I get into the shower in the morning.
Which of these self-care practices can you start adding to your daily routine today? Bonus points to anyone who commits to all 10!
About Jen Wittman
Jen Wittman is a Certified Holistic Health Expert, Chef, Author & Vitality Coach, who teaches women how to reverse thyroid and autoimmune conditions naturally. She’s helped hundreds of women decrease (or even eliminate) their need for thyroid medications and has helped others stay off thyroid medication entirely. She is author of the Amazon #1 New Release book, Healing Hashimoto’s Naturally and has also written The Super-Mom’s Guide to Managing Thyroid Disease and A Partner’s Guide to Thyroid & Autoimmune Disease.