Throughout my healing journey, I’ve learned that living a balanced life is just as, if not more important than, taking supplements or doing other treatments for Lyme disease, toxins, or whatever other ailment I happen to be battling at the time.
While treatments are important, health isn’t just found by taking handfuls of the best supplements or medications. They can sure do a whole lot to mitigate symptoms, but for most of us, they are not enough. Yet taking supplements or drugs is a whole lot easier than having to heal or correct any other underlying issues that may be making us sick, which is why some of us might ignore this aspect of healing, or pay less attention to it.
This could include lifestyle and relationship issues, or unresolved trauma. In my books Healing Chronic Illness and Beyond Lyme Disease I often describe the role that emotional trauma plays in illness and why getting healed from soul wounds is so important for wellness. Lie-based belief systems and harmful thought patterns and behaviors affect our cells and can cause disease. What’s more, thousands of studies have proven that prolonged stress or trauma can put the body in a perpetual state of “fight or flight”, which is also conducive to illness.
Cultivating a personal relationship with God has been, for me, the single most important thing that I’ve done to heal from past trauma and to address the other issues that caused me to become sick, besides Lyme disease. I’ve found that prayer gives me peace, wisdom, positive perspective and hope—three things that all of us who battle disease really need.
In addition, there are a number of mind-body tools that I've used that have helped me to recover, and which may help you, as well. These include Emotional Freedom Technique and Dynamic Neural Retraining (DNRT). If you have been doing treatments for Lyme disease for years, but are seeing little progress, you may want to consider whether your thoughts and beliefs may be hamstringing your healing. Unfortunately, inflammation and toxins in the brain can cause many of us to have negative thoughts, but if negativity, hopelessness and despair fill your thoughts daily, again, you may want to consider whether emotional issues from your past (or even present) are keeping you from healing fully.
I believe that all of us have traumas and soul wounds. Some of us may struggle more than others and have more areas that need healing, but I’ve discovered through my research that even seemingly minor and insignificant traumas can hold some of us back at times. We may not even be aware of the harmful beliefs or thinking patterns that are holding us back—which is why it’s good to pray or seek wise counsel about whether there may be something from your past or present that’s negatively impacting your health.
Soul wounds can lead to toxic relationships and living an imbalanced life, which in themselves can also cause or contribute to disease.
For instance, I've observed that many people with chronic illness tend to be burden bearers; that is, they tend to take on the burdens of others in an unhealthy way. They tend to have difficulty saying “No” to others when it’s appropriate to do so, and may struggle to set healthy boundaries in relationships.
If you’re in codependent relationships or have trouble saying “No” to others when you really need to, or you feel that you can’t get your own needs met or are constantly sacrificing your needs for others, you may struggle to get well.
It’s healthy and good to give to others, but when it’s done at the expense of self-care and out of obligation, resentment or a need for approval, that’s a problem. When we give to others freely, out of a spirit of love, and a sincere desire to help, that is life giving. Yet when giving is fear-based or motivated by the need to fill an inner void, such as winning other people's approval, it isn’t healthy.
In the early years that I was diagnosed with Lyme, I quickly discovered that I had been taking on friends and family members' burdens in an unhealthy way. I felt responsible for their feelings and for meeting their every need. When I realized that I was trying to manage their emotions and behavior, I saw that it was compromising my health.
I then began to evaluate my relationships and asked God to help me to love myself and others in ways that were healthy. This wasn’t easy to do, because I had been relating to others, especially my friends and family, in unhealthy ways for years, so setting new boundaries was difficult. It felt mean to say No to the needs of others at times and to not bend or cave in to their demands—but I realized that unless I honored myself, I could not really honor and love others freely.
If you struggle to set boundaries with the people in your life or you know that you’re in toxic relationships that could be harming your health, I highly recommend reading Drs. Cloud and Townsend’s book, Boundaries and joining an online or in-person group that deals with issues of codependency.
Finally, our lifestyle plays a big role in how healthy we are. You can take all of the antibiotics in the world and all of the right supplements, but if you aren’t living a balanced lifestyle that includes rest, recreation, soul care and healthy relationships, you may find it more difficult to heal. I believe that we were designed with certain needs, and that if those needs aren’t met, we’ll struggle to thrive.
After I was diagnosed with Lyme, I spent many hours in meditative prayer, asking God to show me the areas of my life that were out of balance. He revealed that I was always rushing around, living in fight-or-flight, overworking, not spending much time doing fun things with friends or family, and eating fast food (even if I thought it was relatively healthy food!).
Ironically, the tools that can impact our healing the most are often the ones that we disregard because they seem so simple and obvious, yet how often and how consistently do we really do them? For instance, most of us know that we need to move our bodies, have downtime, rest and healthy food, and be in life-giving relationships in order to be happy and well. Yet how often do we put off social engagements, restful activities, exercise and our “soul food” because we think we simply must do our medical research, take care of others, clean the house or get our work done?
Granted, Lyme disease and chronic illness have a way of stealing our days’ hours so that all of our time gets sucked up in medical treatments, doctors’ appointments, research and, if we are fortunate, work—but how can we possibly heal if life is all about obligations? Are we really living if we do nothing daily to put a smile on our faces or a sparkle of joy in our hearts?
When you’re sick, you may not be able to do much. But I encourage you to find one or two activities daily that you know will do your body, mind and spirit good. That might mean sitting in the sunshine for an hour a day, reading an uplifting book, listening to a life-giving teaching by a motivational speaker, praying, meeting a friend for lunch, or listening to some of your favorite tunes. Again, this is all obvious stuff that you’ve probably heard before, but sometimes, we really don't do the simple things, even though it's the these things that can be the catalyst for our healing, not just the complex treatment regimens.
Speaking of simple, one of the most powerful things that I’ve done for my health is to thank God daily for the good things in my life, rather than focusing on all of the things that aren’t right with my world, and trusting that all will be well. Gratitude can go a long ways toward helping us to shift our perspective into a place of hope and positivity which will in turn foster healing in our bodies. Again, this probably isn’t anything that you haven’t heard of before…but I encourage you to take the advice as seriously as you take your fifty supplements or other treatments. As simple as it sounds, being thankfulcan make a huge difference in your health, and…it’s free.
May you be blessed in your healing journey!
Connie Strasheim is the author or co-author of 11 wellness books, including the recently released New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Real Healing Strategies that Work. (October, 2016) and Beyond a Glass of Milk and a Hot Bath: Advanced Sleep Solutions for People with Chronic Insomnia. (March, 2017). She is also a medical copywriter and an editor at ProHealth.com, as well as Editor of the Alternative Cancer Research Institute (ACRI). Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine, and she collaborates with some of the world's best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease and insomnia, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. To learn more about her work, see: www.ConnieStrasheim.org.