5 Things I Did This Year For My Health and Wellbeing

As the year wraps up, I am taking some time to reflect on some of the changes I've made this year. It's a natural time to think about what has worked but also about what hasn't worked. What lights you up and keeps you going? What drains you? Because we want more of the former and less of the latter. When it comes to living with chronic illnesses and thyroid issues, it's a continuous cycle and process. It's important to be intentional about it. Here are just a few examples of what has helped me make progress and up-level in my life and if there are any points that resonate for you and that you are planning to incorporate into your life, I'd love to know in the comments below and over on Instagram @thyroidtransitions!

1. Minimize refined white sugar and processed foods

What was wrong: Too much sugar, too much bloat, too much of a risk factor for cancer recurrence

What helped me with this: 

  • Finding a good natural substitute that I like and works for me. I've switched to stevia but it's important to remember that not all stevia is created equally. Many will have other sugars mixed in. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin and sucralose are synthetic and can actually do more harm. 100% stevia is best and I'm currently using the brand Krisda.
  • Cutting out white refined sugar completely for a short time. On the recommendation of my naturopath, in the fall, I went completely white refined sugar free for 4 weeks. She had suggested about 6-8 weeks but I ended up going on holiday with family and my aunt made a bunch of gluten-free, dairy-free desserts especially for me that I couldn't say no to! Such is life. But this period really helped me evaluate how much refined sugar I had been having without even thinking about it.

2. Identify life rules

What was wrong: Feeling not in control of my life and pulled in too many directions

What helped me with this: 

  • Figuring out the guiding principles and values for my life, including for any work and projects that I take on. Ask yourself what are the values that you hold most sacred? I'm learning to trust that if something isn't aligned then it's okay to pass on it.
  • Time blocking my week in my online calendar. I do this for work (different projects are colour coded), social activities and selfcare activities . Because I've realised that otherwise, it just doesn't get done.
  • Learning from others through reading. Some of my favourite books from this year are:

3. Reduce environmental toxins at home and in personal care

What was wrong: Allergies, eczema, so many sneezing fits and other random symptoms.

What helped me with this: 

  • Investing in a HEPA air purifier for mold, smoke, pollen and dust. This HEPA air purifier was one of the biggest and best investments for me as I live in an old apartment building in the middle of a busy city. Indoor air is often worse than outdoor air so I also try to open my windows more often.
  • Making my bedroom a gadget-free zone. I now keep my phone outside my bedroom at night because research is showing that EMFs coming from our cell phones, wifi and cell towers aren't great for us. You can also just turn off your phone or put it on airplane mode as well, if that's an option for you.
  • Switching shampoos, conditioners, soap and makeup products. I'm trying to minimize endocrine disrupting chemicals like phthalates and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). I now use Green Cricket Shampoo and Conditioner. For soap, I now use Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar. I'm allergic to a bunch of plants and weeds, so some all natural products actually cause more of a reaction and exacerbate my ezcema. A couple of helpful resources:
  • Cleaning my phone frequently- at the very least every week.
  • Changing the type of laundry detergent and dryer sheets I use. I now always use a fragrance-free one, usually Tide Free and Gentle - Unscented or Downy Ultra Free and Gentle and Bounce Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets Free & Gentle . My laundry and clothes no longer have that smell that we associate with being "clean". But that's exactly the point- there are no added chemicals. Clean actually smells like nothing!
  • Some other things I have always done but encourage you to consider:
    • No outdoor shoes in the house - ever! Shoes can track in everything from dirt and dog poop to pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins. Leave them near the front door.
    • No air fresheners and perfumes. I've always been sensitive but we really don't need more of this toxic load on our bodies.

4. Identify and get the right kind of support

What was wrong: Feeling stuck and unsure how to process trauma-related events

What helped me with this: 

  • Recognizing that I needed extra support. It's easy to fall into the mindset that we've got everything under control and that we'll figure it out ourselves.
  • Identifying the right kind of support at this point in time. Maybe this also includes thinking more broadly and open-mindedly about the supports that work for you. I started working again with a brilliant somatic practitioner. I also found a new naturopath and acupuncturist (see point one!).

5. Continuous course correction with compassion (CCCC!)

What was wrong: Being hard on myself when I wasn't doing what I needed to or wanted to/ Feeling like I was off track

What helped me with this: 

  • Catching myself and reminding myself of everything I've been through and how far I've come. Taking a small step or action for myself helps me feel a little more aligned and present.
  • Having a meditation practice. Even just 5 minutes of sitting down and checking in with myself helps enormously.
  • Tracking the habits I want to incorporate. I've created several tracking sheets including a habit tracker and gratitude tracker. I love creating systems that work for me and one of the things that really helped me this year is bullet journalling. I was gifted The Bullet Journal Method last year and it's been working really well for me.
  • Including positive messaging throughout my home. I now have photos, notes, plants and candles around my home that bring me joy and that remind me of my goals and purpose.

 

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Nadha Hassen

Founder at Thyroid Transitions
Nadha is a health researcher and chronic illness advocate based in Toronto. A "thyroidless thriver", she strives to support people at all stages of their thyroid process. She is currently a PhD student and received her Master of Public Health (MPH) from the University of Toronto, specializing in Health Promotion.
Posted in Home and Organization, Lifestyle, Mindful Living, Personal Entries, Tips, Strategies and Resources.

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