Living life without medication – positive lifestyle changes you can make
The European drug agency recently released new statistics regarding drug deaths. They revealed that nearly a third of all European drug overdoses arise in the UK, with 3,744 falling victim to death by drug poisoning, from both legal and illegal drugs.
While a majority of these deaths derived from an intake of NPO drugs – meaning drugs not taken by mouth – it is important to look where these drug addictions derive from.
The use of ‘every day’ drugs like antidepressants, sleeping pills and pain killers, which can filter easily into peoples’ everyday lives should not be underestimated. These may not cause a drug overdose themselves (unless taken in vast quantities), but they can lead to a dependency, and in some instances lead patients to look for stronger drug options, which can have serious health implications, and addiction issues, in the long term.
However, this does not mean that painkillers, anxiety medication or antidepressants can (or should) be avoided when so many people across the UK benefit enormously from their sensible and monitored usage. So with this in mind we must look at ways to control their use and avoid dependencies forming in the first place.
Stress often manifests itself physically in the body, causing aches, pains and other (often) far more serious physiological issues. To remedy simple aches and pains most of us would turn to paracetamol or ibuprofen but alternative methods might also provide similar quick relief. Essential oils are ideal to reduce any pain caused by stress. For example, massaging peppermint onto your forehead and temples is said to eliminate some headaches. Other oils that are useful include lavender oil, which is often used to relax your mind and can help anyone who has difficulties falling asleep. And Chamomile oil is often used to counteract chest pains or sore joints as it relaxes the muscles, and is perfect to add to a hot bath to unwind from daily stresses.
Change in diet
Did you know that certain foods and drinks (excluding alcohol which we all know about), can have a big impact our mental health? Coffee, energy drinks and some soft drinks contain a large amount of caffeine which can increase anxiety levels. Similarly, sugary and processed food won’t provide the same nourishment healthy fruits and vegetables will, and can impact mood and wellbeing as a result. A poor diet will not only affect your mental wellbeing, but can also influence your sleeping pattern and cause sleep deprivation, due to blood sugar fluctuations. The combination of all of these factors can often leave us feeling pretty down in the dumps, with some people turning to medication to counteract their blue mood. However, it’s imperative that before you turn to medicine, those with concerns first address their lifestyle and diet habits Tactics like introducing a ‘clean’ largely plant based diet, rich in magnesium and vitamin B is highly advised. Ingredients including spinach, nuts, salmon, avocado and bananas are perfect options.
Tomatoes, blueberries and nuts are all known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can be used as a natural supplement to drugs including ibuprofen, and sometimes even replace it if the pain is low level and you are attempting to manage symptoms in a holistic way. Additionally, sunflower seeds are ideal to absorb the pain of migraines and manage muscle pains. And by adding little bit of ginger and lemon to your tea it can help unblock a nose and reduce any cold and fever symptoms.
We’re advised that to maintain physical health we should be walking 10,000 steps a day, however, not many of us are actually reaching this goal, with most of us falling far below it. Of course exercise has endless physical benefits but it also keeps us mentally in check, allowing us to better manage stress levels and clear out those mental cobwebs. Similarly, it also helps reduce day time tiredness which can result from a lack of movement as our bodies remain under stimulated. So get those 10,000 steps in and go for a walk in the fresh air- it will make you feel more awake when you need to, and lead to better sleep at night.
Martin Ricketts is CEO of Plutus Health