GET PHYSICAL // The ritual in checkups

So much about the self-care movement revolves around rituals and routines that feel like something unusual. Alternative self-care if you will. However, with this month being Breast Cancer Awareness month, we thought it would be appropriate to send the message that yearly physicals are important. There are no bragging rights to never going to see the doctor, even if you feel great. It doesn't mean that you shouldn't take the opportunity for autonomy and incorporate the things that might be deemed alternative into your approach. But avoiding western medicine altogether isn't the answer either.

We are often our first and best detectives when anything is off in our bodies. This is true. I am always of the camp that if something feels concerning it is best to go and have things checked out just to make sure. Ease the mind if you will. I know that we all have different levels on the scale of hypochondria and I definitely don't believe in crippling fear about what "could be wrong". However, I do believe that avoidance is never a good tactic for anything, and that you might as well address the problem head on. Even if you are doing all the right things, it's still ok to go get checked out. There is no use in guessing.

And if nothing feels wrong? That’s great. But it doesn't mean that you shouldn't go get a checkup. As someone who has long been drawn towards alternative health and healing, I know that feeling of resisting. I also know how important it is to go and get a checkup. We put these things off, the years add up, and the older we get, the more checkups we need to have. But that’s OK! Just do it. It’s not supposed to be fun. No one is saying you shouldn't take your tonic herbs, and drink your green juice, and use natural skincare, and do ALL the things that western medicine never mentions. You can do both.

Recently, in my constant curiosity about health and healing, I've learned how far western medicine has come specifically in the way of cancer research- and especially with breast cancer. We know so much more than we did even five years ago and early detection is vital for a successful recovery. The statistics are actually quite remarkable and exciting. There are also great ways to treat illness, both traditionally, and alternatively in tandem. We know so much more than we used to and that knowledge is very powerful and exciting.

The problem I've identified in the alternative or natural health movement, is an overemphasis on the wrongs of western medicine, and a tendency to blame the patient. Most of us (certainly if you are reading this) are probably trying to do the best that you can, or at least do better than the status quo when it comes to taking care of yourself. And that is enough! We live in a world full of variables that exist outside of our own hands so being proactive with our health can't be a matter of control, it's a matter of doing your best and living life happily in between.

I believe being open-minded to all is so important. Are  there doctors you'll visit who seem to know nothing about natural health or nutrition? Yes. Just like there are alternative practitioners who don't really know much about western medicine either. The important thing is to work with healers from both ends of the spectrum, who know what they are talking about and who are capable of helping you.

Like all things in life, there is a balance. A balance between proactive and active detection, screenings and tests, and the daily maintenance rituals that help make you feel good.

In writing this, I realize that it's presented in a way that everyone would prefer to do the alternative approach. Of course, this isn't true. Plenty of people out there would prefer not to do anything for their health, and solely rely on pills and prescriptions whenever possible. Why does it have to be so divided? And why can't the emphasis be on both?

The beauty in the increased awareness around natural health is that hopefully we can mainstream the fringe approach and that an integrative outlook can become mainstream. To me that feels very exciting, and the best of both worlds!

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