health

The productivity myth - why taking a break is vital for your health

The productivity myth - why taking a break is vital for your health

Rest and recovery is vital for our health. Why is taking a break so hard for us? This article gives you insight on the productivity myth, the way we are conditioned to always work and achieve to be successful, how rest is associated with doing nothing, and why that is a lie. We need down-time to prevent burnout, exhaustion, chronic stress, adrenal fatigue, and other depletion syndromes.

7 natural remedies to have in your home

Last week I was down with the flu (or some heavy cold with fever and coughs and muscle pains) AND I burned my hand with hot oil AND I went to the dentist who left me with a bruised palate

Oh yes, it was a great week.... to use all the natural home remedies I love. :D

***Please make sure to read my disclaimer before reading the rest of the article, always ask for medical advice with your own healthcare professional, GP or pharmacist and always use medication and supplements (pharmaceutical or natural remedies like naturopathic or herbal medicine) as prescribed on the package insert.***

The 'common cold' (rhinitis) 

Echinacea 

Echinacea comes in drops or capsules or tea. I hate capsules so I always use drops and tea. When the R is in the month (September until April) I drink at least one cup of tea with Echinacea in it. It enhances your immune system and helps to fight off bugs before they get to you. When a virus enters our home, I start my drops too. Sometimes it helps me to prevent catching the bug myself, and if not, it sure helps because of the immune system boost. 

Chamomile 

I use this as a tea. Chamomile soothes the throat and has antiseptic qualities. You can use it just to drink and clear the throat, you can add some honey to it to enhance the antibacterial properties and to make swallowing easier. You can also gargle with it. 

Saltwater

Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and gargle with it (not so nice) or use it as nose spray or drops to dilute mucus in the nose. This really helps to keep the airway free and it prevents the sinuses from getting inflamed. It's important to keep the entry to the sinuses open, you don't want a sinusitis on top of your cold. It takes way longer to recover from that.

 

The flu (influenza)

Fluids

Drink a lot when you have a fever. It helps to clear out the toxins that are produced by fighting the influenza virus. It also helps regulate your temperature, due to fever the body loses much more fluids. Preferably drink water, herbal tea and broth, not just water. Broth will help to compensate for the loss of salts through transpiration when there is a fever.

Homemade chicken soup

I don't know why but this is one of the best remedies. Ask someone to bring you homemade chicken soup. Processed foods somehow don't have the same effect. 

Note: If your fevers don't break, or when there are other symptoms present like shortness of breath, extreme coughing, pain in the upper torso, muscle weakness, drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhoea, and so on, always consult your doctor. Be aware that influenza can lead to pneumonia when severe, even in healthy young individuals.

 

Bruises

Arnica

For bruises, muscle aches from working out or straining the muscles too much, Arnica is a helpful natural remedy. You can find it as drops, or salve to apply locally. The salve works perfectly on bruises and bumps, also with your children. For severe muscle pain or tore muscles, I use the drops to ingest for a systemic approach. I also used them after childbirth, to heal the damaged tissues faster (it was recommended by my midwife). And I recently learned that it can also be helpful in emotional 'bruises' and growth pain, for example when you are in a difficult painful life event or transformational process. 

 

Burns

Aloë vera

The best home remedy for burns from a heat source like hot water, oil, fire or hot objects or sunburned skin is Aloë vera. It is a plant you probably have in your home already. It's a very easy, difficult to kill plant ;-) that you can put everywhere in your home. When there is a burn, always cool first, with lukewarm water. Cold water can lead to hypothermic shock and constricted blood vessels, which is not helping to remove the heat out of the tissues. After thorough cooling (15 minutes), apply some fresh Aloë vera gel. To get the gel, cut off a leave of the plant, and slice it in half lengthwise. You can use the inside of the leave as a bandage or just put on the gel/liquid from the inside to the burns. It takes out the heat and the pain. You can repeat this if needed.

In the following situations, ALWAYS seek IMMEDIATE medical care:

  • burns larger than 2 cm/1 inches in diameter
  • burns on the hands or the face (in children)
  • when the burn changed the color of the skin to completely black or white (possible 3rd-degree burns)
  •  presence of other symptoms
  • when the burn is caused by electric shock

You can also use Aloë vera with other skin conditions, like rashes or scratches, to help them heal and to soften the skin. 

Please share your personal favorites in the comments! Which natural remedies do you use often?

Remove these 4 energy leaks to decrease stress

To feel energized and to prevent stress-related illnesses like burnout, it's important to be critical of which energies you give access to in your life, and what of who you give your energy to. To feel radiant, strong and centered, it is important to be aware of energy leaks and to remove them. Here are 4 types of energy leaks to be aware of, and to take action on, to kickstart your healing process. 

Letter to my colleagues

Dear fellow doctors,

This letter is directed to two of you. We share the same educational background, we are all trained to be Medical Doctors. I met you last year during a difficult phase in my life where I encountered acute physical problems. This was not the first time for me, however, these particular encounters were part of a traumatic experience that changed my life. I should have written complaints to you individually 9 months ago. Unfortunately I was in such a bad shape that I couldn't force myself to do it back then. I was recovering from emergency surgery, could barely sit or breathe and I was suffering from arrhythmia attacks. So, consider yourself lucky that it took me too long to recover to file a formal complaint and that my story only makes it to be a letter on my blog today. And that I'm somehow grateful that you were part of my final eye-opener.

September 2016 - I came to the emergency GP office in the evening hours. I was suffering from severe abdominal pain in the lower right quadrant for 2 days and my regular GP was very worried. He did some lab work and we were waiting for the results to come in the next morning. He told me 'not too wait and go see the out of office GP during the evening or night whenever the pain got worse'. He also told me that however the next day was his day off, he would come in and see me. Doctors don't tell you that often. 

The pain got worse, I was keeling over at the couch. We left the children sleeping in their beds to go see the GP at 10 pm. You don't do that easily as a mother. The neighbour agreed to sit downstairs to keep an eye. 

The GP didn't listen. I told him it was something related to my ovary or uterus, that it reminded me of labour pains. He said that couldn't be true. He poked around in my abdomen and told me 'now it hurts everywhere, doesn't it?'. I wouldn't call it a decent physical exam. He refused to do an internal examination 'because I wasn't having so much pain'. He refused to look up the lab results. He told me I was having irritable bowel complaints. I have been suffering from digestive issues since I was a child, so I know what bowel pain is. This was different. He didn't care. I told him I was a doctor myself and that I thought it was something else. He seemed offended and asked me patronisingly 'what severe and very rare cause I was thinking about then'. And he laughed at me when I suggested a few not so unlikely things. And then he discharged me. 

The next day I was admitted to the hospital with a twisted and dying right ovary. I had to have emergency surgery right away. Fortunately they could save my ovary. This might not have been the case if I had decided to skip my morning appointment with my regular GP because the GP of the night before had installed a deep feeling in me of 'overreacting'. The only reason I went to the appointment was because my regular GP had told me to come and see me on his day off. I didn't want him to come for nothing.

In the hospital I told 9 people I didn't want morphine or other opioids after surgery because my body wouldn't take that very well. I told 3 ward nurses, 2 gynaecologists, 3 anaesthetic nurses and the anaesthesiologist herself. She told me just before I went to sleep 'we will see'. I woke up totally sedated and later found out I was given opioids anyway. I suffered from severe tachycardia from the side effects through the night - my heart ran the marathon while I was laying in bed unable to move. It tore my body to shreds and was the last push over the edge.

I didn't recover for months. I couldn't walk. I couldn't sit. I couldn't breathe. I was suffering from arrhythmia attacks - my heart rate would be over 160 bpm for hours. I was diagnosed with severe physical exhaustion, burnout and supra ventricular tachycardia. I couldn't sleep or eat. My BMI dropped to below 20. I was having panic attacks 24/7. I couldn't take care of my kids. I couldn't work, and that was the least of my problems. 

Why this letter? I sought medical help because I expected to be helped. To receive healing. To ask for support. But you, my colleagues, medical doctors, although you think you did, you didn't heal, help or support me.

You misdiagnosed and mistreated me. You harmed me. You made me sicker. You abused me. You made fun of me, you laughed at my pain. You dismissed my suggestions, my knowledge about my own body, my medical knowledge even. You almost let a critical organ die. You gave me medication against my permission that almost killed me. 

You killed my faith in the medical profession. 

So, tell me, how could a patient trust you? How should they put their life in your hands? They don't know about hospitals, or procedures. They have no clue. How do you treat the voiceless, the weak? 

Do you rely on your authority only? Forcing them in the name of medicine and science? Neglecting what they tell you about their symptoms, their bodies? The body THEY know best, because they have lived inside of it for their whole lives? 

Why did you go into medicine? To be an authoritarian figure in a sick patriarchal healthcare system? Or do you want to be a good doctor, a healer, a compassionate co-creator of health? 

Only you know your motives. But I would strongly suggest that you read this letter if you want to be a good doctor. Listen to your patients, take them seriously and put your ego away before you harm others too. 

For me, this episode let to a profound belief that the medical system should change. Their is no way back. We need compassionate healthcare. We need true healers who work with patients instead of harming them. I am now determined to help people find health and happiness through their own power. And I sincerely hope, that when they need acute intervention, you will be there to help them heal too.

Yours sincerely, 

Willemijn Maas, MD