When it comes to moving towards our healthiest state of being, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we need to do more. There is no shortage of information available to us on what we …
When it comes to moving towards our healthiest state of being, it can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we need to do more. There is no shortage of information available to us on what we should want for our bodies and our lives, and before we know it, we can find ourselves doing everything possible trying to keep up. When we get stuck in this race of trying to do it all, our bodies take the hit and suffer, often becoming overworked and inflamed.
Inflammation is one of the biggest barriers to health. It is also one of the signs that our body isn’t happy. It can show up in many different ways and can sneak up on us, as it can build so slowly that our bodies being inflamed can appear as normal. While acute inflammation can be very helpful in alerting us that something is wrong, like when you get an allergic reaction, chronic inflammation is usually much quieter and harder to notice. Although the idea of the alert is still the same, something is wrong, we don’t take the same level of action, even though we should.
My own struggle with chronic inflammation is something I’ve been addressing this year as I work on healing my skin from acne. I’ve learned that acne is an inflammatory skin condition, and the acute inflammatory response we see in the form of breakouts actually starts much deeper, with my entire body dealing with the stress of chronic inflammation. Because my body as a whole was under the stress of chronic inflammation from my diet, stress levels, and inconsistent sleep, it led to my skin becoming weak and unhealthy, therefore unable to handle any bacteria and causing breakouts.
As I’ve been addressing my diet, stress levels, and sleep over the last year, the inflammation levels in my body have decreased significantly, allowing my body to handle the acne bacteria on my skin much more quickly and less aggressively.
As a health professional, I was very aware of the food I was eating, of exercising regularly, and of taking care of myself well. While my diet and lifestyle looked healthy to me and others, it wasn’t conducive to reducing the inflammation I didn’t even realize I was struggling with. I, too, got wrapped up in the idea that more is better and that I could reach any goal by just working harder and doing more. That wasn’t the case here and my inflammation, and as a result, my acne, did not start to heal until I committed to slowing down, paying more attention to detail, and being more intentional toward the specific goal of decreasing inflammation.
There are many ways to decrease chronic inflammation. The top three things that I’ve focused on that have led to my success are eliminating sugar and refined carbohydrates, adjusting my exercise routine to include less high-intensity workouts, and getting more sleep by going to bed earlier. Decreasing sugar and adjusting the intensity of my workouts has allowed my body to go through fewer cortisol spikes throughout the day, keeping my blood sugar more regulated. Getting more sleep, particularly by going to bed earlier versus sleeping in later, has allowed my body to spend more time recovering, also helping me to decrease stress in my body.
Although there are endless other ways to decrease inflammation, focusing on these three has allowed me to keep the changes to my diet, exercise, and lifestyle as minimal and impactful as possible. While it can be tempting to add something new into your routine to solve your problem, sometimes slowing down and removing things is the best approach.
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