Add These 6 Forgotten Healers to Your Daily Routine
Life is full of unexpected changes. This seems to be the case today more than ever. But things like pandemics, social unrest, and personal challenges don’t have to wreak havoc on our health and productivity. There are things we can do to take control of our lives. Some of these activities and actions are probably right around you and you may not even realize it. I call these the “forgotten healers.”
Forgotten healers are simple activities and actions that are proven to have healing and restorative benefits. Below are 6 of these healers that I often recommend to improve the health and success of my clients.
1 – Deep breathing
We probably don’t realize just how much breathing impacts our health. But taking just 5 minutes each day to breathe deeply can do wonders for our overall health and wellness. Find a quiet place sometime during the day to breathe deeply as much as you can.
Recently, when I was about two and a half minutes into a deep breathing session, my body spontaneously took this wonderful deep breath. A couple minutes later, it happened again. These breaths were not like the ones I’d been practicing. It felt great.
When we practice deep breathing, our bodies get used to it and we can then call upon it during times of heightened stress.
2 – Laughter
We all pretty much understand that negative thoughts and stress impact us negatively and manifest in chemicals that affect our bodies. When someone is burning the candle at both ends, you know that they are probably going to get sick—especially if they have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings along with it.
Positive thoughts, on the other hand, can actually release neural peptides that fight stress and even more serious illnesses. Positive thinking is great, but laughter is something that takes positive thoughts to an even higher level. Laughter can reduce stress levels, pain, and blood pressure. It also releases endorphins which improves mood, and it boosts immunity as well. Plus, it actually burns calories because it engages and moves our whole body.
Some studies say that the physical effects of laughter can last up to an hour. In one study, researchers at the College of William & Mary experimented with the electrical activity that occurs when we laugh. Even when we are anticipating a joke, a wave of electricity sweeps through the entire cerebral cortex rather than just one region.1
Humor has this amazing effect on the brain as we are trying to figure out the joke, and then as we react, and finally as we try to remember the joke. We not only need humor and laughter consistently, but especially when we are feeling down.
3 – Friendship and camaraderie
We typically don’t think of friendship as a healing influence until we don’t have it anymore. Just having someone there, someone to share life experiences with is healing. With a friend, we don’t even need them to offer a solution to feel better. Just knowing that we can open up and share our life with them is enough.
Our neurobiology is wired for connection, and so it becomes the glue that holds us together. A friendship keeps having these bits of glue added and the more life experiences we share, the closer we get to each other.
In the absence of in-person connection, we need to reach out to people by texting, calling, and video chatting. Additionally, posting something funny to a friend on social media can help us stay connected and positive during challenging times.
4 – Vulnerability
Vulnerability may seem like an odd thing to be a forgotten healer, but it is amazing. Being vulnerable is associated with defenselessness, weakness, and susceptibility. These things could point to a physical weakness like defense against another person or nature, but there is an emotional component as well.
We generally don’t like to be vulnerable. We like feeling like we have it all together, and that’s the perfectionist component that many of us have and want to present. But that’s not the reality of life. Life is messy and full of imperfections. While some people are able to move on and recover from their mistakes and imperfections, others feel shame that tends to stick with them.
Brené Brown studied human connection for about two decades, and she found that shame is really easily understood as the fear of disconnection. She went from studying connection to finding shame, and then she found that some people experienced certain things in life without shame while others did. What she ultimately discovered was that the people who didn’t experience shame could open up and be vulnerable. They could tell their story without fear but still feel that they were worthy of love and connection despite their flaws.2
Being vulnerable leads to good things—to greater connection and camaraderie. So it’s important to have the courage to open up and tell our story without shame. In other words, have the courage to be imperfect. We can’t selectively numb our emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions by trading our authenticity for safety.
5 – Journaling and pondering
One of the great things about journaling is that it forces you to slow down and think. Going over what you wrote also helps you see whether you are stuck in a loop and saying the same things over and over. Our thoughts and emotions may not be clear to us, but when we write them down on paper they can become clear as day.
Having silence and slowing down by pondering and journaling often leads to inspiration and creativity. When we mindlessly go from one task to another in our busy day, we tend to lose our creativity in the process. But with journaling, we allow ourselves to think about what’s important—to examine, reflect, and evaluate our lives.
As you begin journaling and pondering, you will notice that thinking and reflecting becomes easier to do when you are not actually sitting down and writing. The process becomes just like breathing because you’re in the flow of it. Our brain is wired to filter and ponder, and journal writing creates an environment that makes that happen.
6 – Mindset and conscious language
Our mindset holds the key for so many things in our lives. Negative thoughts tend to lead to negative results, while positive thoughts lead to positive results. Uplifting books, messages, videos, and so on can help us think more positively, but probably even more important is having a positive support group around you.
We often think in the same way over and over. When a friend who thinks in a different way is in our lives, it helps us get out of our repetitive thinking. And when that friend is uplifting and positive and wants to help you solve your problems, great things can happen.
As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, we need to stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves. What this means is that listening to your negative thoughts over and over isn’t going to turn out well. We need to start talking to ourselves about the positive things in our lives. Having positive friends and looking to other positive sources of inspiration can help us shed those negative thoughts and create a positive mindset.
Where to begin
Rather than implementing all of these forgotten healers at once, I would recommend picking the one that resonates with you most and working on that one first. Put it in your routine for about a week or two until it’s good and solid, and then add another one. Mastering just a few of these areas can still have a huge impact on your life.
We may not know what the future will bring, but focusing on these forgotten healers will allow you to be more proactive instead of reactive. And as you are consistent with those small changes, it will change your day, your week, your year, and eventually your life.
About Vonda Flue
Vonda Flue is an occupational therapist, certified aroma freedom practitioner, and health and wellness educator. She has been an occupational therapist since 1993 and currently works in both the physical and mental health fields. To learn more, visit Vonda’s website at vondaflue.com.
1.. Freehling, Alison. “To Professor, Laughing Matters.” Daily Press. Dailypress.com.
2.. Brown, Brené. “The power of vulnerability.” Ted Conferences, LLC. Ted.com.