Over the years, I'll bet you've developed what I call Living Pains. The sometimes small, sometimes big aches and pains that you've been living with, but are starting to really impact your life now.
Are you tolerating any of these Living Pains right now?
Avoiding and fending off Living Pains takes up a lot of time and energy, and you miss out on parts of life that you'd actually love to enjoy. Instead, you have Nearly-Living Experiences that don't quite compare.
I think many of us are regularly having Nearly-Living Experiences, nearly living as fully as we can but not quite. We're ignoring these experiences in the face of our busy lives, letting them pass us by, and instead accepting Just Getting By (JGB) as good enough.
Nearly-Living Experiences are the chances, opportunities, and openings for us to make the big and the small changes that would wildly improve our quality and appreciation of our lives- but the steps involved usually prove too much:
It’s no wonder we can’t take advantage of our Nearly-Living Experiences, what with all the rest of Life™ going on, and that JGB is the habitual order of things.
And it’s also no wonder that a LOT of people come to the realization that they MUST make some kind of change at a crisis point in their life, when JGB has stopped being a viable option.
At that point, you realize that any amount of work required between step 1 and step 6 is reasonable, since you simply must get to step 6 to ever feel better.
But this JGB habit, it’s not really a comfortable one, is it? It’s like the frog in the pot metaphor- if you put a frog in hot water, it’ll jump out. But if you put a frog in a pot of cold water then put it on low heat, the frog will sit there with its world getting gradually hotter, until it IS the soup.
(I have no idea if this story is true. But it illustrates the point!)
We tend to accept small injuries, small adaptations, small shifts in our patterns as just one more thing that we’re too overwhelmed to deal with. In the buffet of dumpster fires before us, what’s a sore ankle?
Over time, though, that sore ankle causes a limp, that changes your gait and your hip function. This impacts your psoas, which tightens up and tilts your pelvis, impinging circulation in your abdomen. Slow, heavy, uncomfortable periods become the norm, and digestion stagnates too, leading to bloating and pain since lymph can’t drain away. Now your energy is low, because you’re not digesting well to support it, nor are you eating well because you feel like crap and that’s a hard place to make healthy choices from.
While you’ve been focusing on the dumpster fires, your own building is burning.
It turns out, you're your own firefighter in this situation. Nobody else can conquer your Living Pains, nobody else can help you move from Nearly Living and Just Getting By to living your fullest life. My work is dedicated to teaching you the what and the how so you can regain authority over your own self, and live that life you're missing out on.
Think of the Immune system as Mission Control, organizing the delivery and removal of everything healing needs. This might be an airborne bacteria trying to settle in our respiratory system, a skin bacteria trying to infect us through a wound, a microscopic tear in a blood vessel caused by high pressure pounding on it, or fatigued eye muscles that have stared too long at all the screens. No matter the issue, the Immune system is there to put us back together.
This is the system that notices injury and damage, and notifies all the relevant repair contributors. It’s in charge of sending crews to sites all over the body, internally and on the surface, to do their thing, including clotting blood, fighting invading pathogens, and signaling for more fluid to wash away debris and deliver more new structures. (This, btw, is inflammation. That’s an integral part of the healing process)
The Immune system uses the resources you give it to create the members of these crews and their supplies- white blood cells, clotting factor chemicals, debris removing cells, the rebuilding bits like protein and collagen and fats, all the physical and chemical components it takes to heal something.
This system also uses the rest you give your body to get work done. There’s a reason that road crews try to do major repairs on weekends and overnight- with less demands on the road, it’s quicker all around to get it done. Giving yourself enough rest means your body can catch up on its healing work.
So all these work crews are alerted, organized, and dispatched by the Immune system (and they travel through the Lymph system; we’ll get to that in a minute.) Can you guess what this process of healing is called in our popular culture?
Right?! We hear that word and immediately look for a turmeric supplement to cool us down! But here’s the thing:
Inflammation is JUST THE PROCESS. It HAS to happen, or nothing will ever heal! The fear we have been trained to feel is because of 2 steps:
Now, I’m not at all saying that our inflammation is fine and we should learn to love it. The fact is that we are much more predisposed to having excess inflammation because, like I said just now in #s 1 and 2, we’re experiencing more injury and less stop orders than humankind ever has.
In terms of "exercising" your immune system, it's this inflammation process that needs attention. An under-active process that never gets challenged, or an over-active one that never gets a break, aren't healthy. We're looking for a reflexive system, one that adapts both to turning on and off as needed. Since so much of the imbalancing comes from our environment, let's help out as much as we can!
How do we help? There’s some obvious, and not so obvious answers, but I have to warn you many of these answers are NOT the fun ones.
Exercise Your Immune System Tip #1
For one thing, the biggest supplement to help the “stop work orders” are omega 3s. Now, don’t get freaked out by the technicalities here. Basically, what happens is that when a cell tears open from an injury, both omega 3s and 6s leak out. The 6s sound the alarm- these are pro-inflammation markers, that signal the Immune system to respond and start work. The 3s are the job foremen who see when the work is done and send everybody home.
Here’s the issue: We as a society tend to be low Omega 3s in them because of 2 simultaneous issues
The balance is like a homemade salad dressing- you want a nice balance between good olive oil and the balsamic vinegar, but not only did you not know you only have a tiny bit of vinegar left in the bottle, you also dropped the oil and swamped your greens. One or the other would have ruined the salad, but both happened and it’s a mess.
This balance matters because we HAVE to eat them. Omega 3s and 6s are essential, meaning we cannot make them ourselves. I don’t give nutritional advice, but it is worth looking into a good quality omega supplement at your local health food store. Shop small, shop local! If you don’t have a local store, my local store, Holly Hill Health Foods, has a good selection and helpful staff if you can overcome your fear of the phone and call them! They’re online, look em up- Holly Hill Vitamins.com
Exercise Your Immune System Tip #2
Here’s another biggie for supporting your Immune system, and I apologize in advance. Sugar depresses the immune system. It’s dose dependent, so the more you have the longer the immune system is shut down. You know what this means.
I’m sorry. I commiserate.
Let’s have a moment of silence for our desserts.
Exercise Your Immune System Tip #3
Ok, here’s my third and biggest factor that influences the Immune response.
(But let me just say that these 3 are by no means the ONLY factors here- they’re the ones that I see most often, that my clients have the most ability to influence and that have the biggest impact on a healthy inflammation aka immune response.)
My third factor to consider is: Stress. It’s such a tiny little word, with such big and far-ranging implications! Stress is a big deal, because like sugar it also shuts down the immune system.
Essentially, our brain doesn’t distinguish between a phone ding, a cough, a huge to-do list, and a saber toothed squirrel. All are equally deserving of shifting to fight or flight mode, because why not? If your brain took a few seconds to decide, and it was wrong, that was the end of you. So we evolved to err on the side of fight or flight activation, which makes sense.
What doesn’t make sense is the sheer amount to stressful inputs we experience almost every minute of our lives now. Stress, and the fight or flight response compared to the rest and digest functions of our bodies, are topics for another day.
Let me say that, in terms of the Immune system and the inflammation response, actively, deliberately, and consistently reducing the stress in your life will BOTH
There’s more discussion of stress coming soon- so for now, suffice to say that these three factors (omegas, sugar, and stress) are all external influences you can work to improve, that will support how well your internal Immune system functions.
Obviously this is not a comprehensive examination of the immune system. It doesn’t address myriad factors that affect, for example, immune compromised or autoimmune issues, and is only looking at our Immune systems in terms of injury and healing. This is a public blog post, people! Personalized, individualized, specific discussions belong in personalized, individual, private settings. Book a chat with me here.
In the meantime, move on from Injury and Healing Parts 1 and 2 to Part 3: Lymph, coming soon.
I wrote a blog series over the winter of 2019- 2020, about my perspective on herbalism as an herbalist, which was really a catalyst to me embracing my whole-body wellness beliefs and doing a deep dive into the pelvic floor work I shared throughout 2020.
I want to share some of what I wrote back then with you- especially part 2, and that ending in part 3.
Now, it’s time I updated my position. I’m not just an herbalist, I’m a whole-body wellness teacher. It took me a long time to really blend my 2 things- call them passions, call them skill sets, whatever. My whole life I’ve been interested in herbalism, plant medicine, and taking care of your own self. 15 years ago I took a job as a pilates teacher because I needed a change, and it sure changed everything!
Movement- like pilates, pelvic floor support, foot mobility, and the myriad other physical-related conversations we've had online- is a major part of how I see and practice health. Our bodies are designed to move, a lot, and we're not taught how to do that. This is important to me.
Herbal medicine- whether practitioner-grade with consultations and protocols and upkeep, or food-grade by seriously increasing the quantity, quality, and variety of the fresh foods and spices you eat daily- is another fundamental component to my vision of whole-body wellbeing. Your body is only as good as the resources you give it to build itself, and choosing those resources on purpose is at the core of how I understand herbal medicine to operate.
From the outside, working with both movement practices and herbal medicine is a modern wellness “hybrid” approach. From the inside, though, they’re both exactly the same! Plant medicine helps move things in your body at micro levels, and movement acts like medicine at macro levels.
I understand that this hybrid style is a new experience for most people. It’s this blending that you’ll hear me discussing and elaborating more in the coming months.
I’d love your feedback and questions- what do you want to know about, in regards to a more truly holistic approach to wellness? What do you want to understand, learn, or ask questions about?
It's time for me to introduce myself again, and I've been thinking about what to say. There’s lots of things to know about me. I’m passionate about integrating your wellness, inside and out. Movement and plant medicine. Logic and proprioception. I like to read- fantasy, mystery, history. I knit, garden, ferment, and drink tea by the quart-sized mason jar. I love baths and naps.
There’s also lots of NOTs to know about me. For example, I don't like waistbands or shoes, faffing around with my hair, or having wool right next to my skin.
Also: I don’t do guilt or bullying. Don’t try it on others in my presence, and don’t try it on me. That will be a short-lived relationship. I don’t often like the stories we usually tell ourselves, because they’re usually born from fear or shame or some other trauma. Get ready to be asked to examine them, and to try on alternatives for size.
When it comes to working with me, there’s another big NOT to understand right away:
I'm No Guru!
My first herbal teacher used to say “Don’t put me on a pedestal- we’ll both get hurt when I fall off.” At the time, I hadn’t yet had the experience of either admiring or being admired like this, and my too-logical brain imagined a human-sized statue falling off a Greek column and squashing someone below. I knew that wasn’t what she meant, but I just didn’t get it.
Now, it makes more sense. And here’s what I say to people who want to look to me as some sort of authority over themselves- Everybody knows something that someone else doesn’t.
Yes, I know some cool stuff about the body that you might not, about how it works and how to fix some things. It’s amazing, and I want to teach you what I know. But that doesn’t make me any higher up the human food chain than you. You know lots of things I don’t know, first and foremost about yourself. Everything I teach you has to be filtered through your experiences, and I’ll learn just as much from you and about you, as you will from what I can teach you.
Moral of the story is- when you work with me, it’s truly a “with” situation. If this is the type of exchange that you prefer, let’s get going!
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
And, some of my posts may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through them I'll earn a few cents. Thank you for supporting my work.
This website is provided for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical, mental health or healthcare advice. The information presented here is not intended to diagnose, treat, heal, cure or prevent any illness, medical condition or mental or emotional condition. Working with us is not a guarantee of any results. Paula Billig owns all copyrights to the materials presented here unless otherwise noted.