Healing Isn’t One and Done; Here’s the Process to Make It Happen
By Dr. Molly Casey
I often find that people have extraordinary misconceptions about what health is and is not, and what healing is and is not. If we are to shift our perceptions, shift our health, and shift our life, it is imperative we read about various topics to challenge ourselves and ways of thinking and being. I often talk about how health is not a destination. The full description is this: health is not a destination and healing is not linear. It’s not a “boom, you’re done” event.
Healing is a process, and there are tips to keep you engaged and, hopefully, consistent along the way.
It’s a Process
Health is a journey, and healing is the process (or steps) you take along that journey to get closer to your ideal picture of healthful and vibrant living. That process and those steps are not always an easy 1 through 10 type of experience. The steps aren’t always clear; often it is two steps forward, one step back, and sometimes even a side step along the way may occur. This can make it extremely difficult to remain positive, consistent, and to stay the course of healing if you don’t acknowledge that healing isn’t linear -- just like most other things in life.
I teach my patients that chiropractic is about optimal nervous system function and optimal health and well-being, but I absolutely address decreasing pain and increasing daily life function. The patients get a great deal of education, and part of that is with regard to their pain and function. I let them know that I fully expect -- as a side effect of the adjustments -- their pain will go away; then I let them know that it is extremely common that in about Week 3 or 4, I expect to see an exacerbation of the original symptoms that brought them in, to not fret, that it’s fully expected. Like clockwork, three or four weeks later, the patients usually come in frightened and say the pain has returned and they couldn’t do this or that. I remind them of the original conversation I had with them, that I told them this would likely happen, and that healing is not linear. There will be ups and downs.
Begin Slowly and Track Progress
Often, when people want to heal in some way -- whether it be to increase function and performance, get out of pain, or drop weight -- they try too much too fast. When things aren’t functioning at the healthiest possible point, there is some level of disorder, chaos or dis-ease (not to be confused with disease). When introducing techniques, practices, or modalities like a chiropractic adjustment, it is best to start slowly and gradually increase. When you add or change too much too fast, often you get the opposite effects you desire and more chaos is brought about. Even if you get desired results, it is very difficult -- if not impossible -- to tell what intervention created the result you wanted. So begin slowly.
Track your progress. The only way to have true understanding of improvement (or no improvement) is through data. You get to data by tracking steps. This may look like writing down repetitions and weights lifted at the gym if you’re trying to become more fit, or taking body measurements and weighing yourself if you’re trying to gain more muscle and drop fat. Maybe it includes recording pain levels and related daily activities that you can and can’t do while going through a course of treatment or care while addressing a problem.
Allow Time for Calibration
Time is a step people often forget to apply. Once you see changes, allow time for calibration. You are asking your body and mind to take in a whole new way of being and working. Once you start to see changes you desire, give it a hot minute to catch up and settle in. Allow the body to calibrate with the changes to create a new normal. Enjoy your changes and progress along the way and know that there is no quick fix, things will go up and down. Be consistent.
Next Right Step
The only thing you really need to do to create the change you desire is the next right step. When you embody the concept that health is a journey and healing is not linear, you begin to realize your body needs different things at different times. You cultivate a relationship with it and you become more in tune with it. You will begin to realize its needs are unique to you and your life. Pay attention and take the next right step -- it may be different than you think.
Continue to Track
The importance of tracking can’t be overstated. As stated earlier, you can only truly see progress, or lack thereof, with raw data. When you continue to track your health journey you begin to see progress that you sometimes didn’t know was there, and this helps enormously with consistency and confidence. Consistency is the key along the journey of health and process of healing. With consistency, things become clearer and you can make more wise decisions about what is best for you.
Engage actively with your health journey. Begin to settle with the idea that there will be ups and downs in your healing process and let it be OK. You’ll notice the results more clearly if you do. Embrace and enjoy the process!
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