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Vote For Your Own Health-Care Reform

Sonia Summer has tips for taking care of yourself


Is the health care system making you feel sick, broke and helpless? If the answer is yes, it could be time for you to stop outsourcing your wellbeing and take back control with a simple self care reform. You are not alone. Caring for your physical, mental and emotional health with intentional and continual actions is easy. More times than not, self care can be more effective than other treatments.

Everyone's self care routine is unique, but here are three common benefits everyone will experience.

Self Care Could Save You Big Bucks

My client, Mary, came to me as a last resort before back surgery. She was spending hundreds of dollars a month on health care, which covered few of her medical expenses. Her doctor had prescribed various painkillers which were providing only temporary relief and starting to make her feel nauseous around the clock. She'd missed weeks of work because she was in so much pain and wanted to avoid surgery because she couldn't afford the $45,000 price tag it came with.

Health care costs in this country are astonishing. A family of four covered by a preferred provider organization will pay an average of $19,393 annually, according to a 2011 report by global consulting firm Milliman. Isn't that statistic a bit staggering? Especially considering the United States Census is reporting that the median household income was $51,939 in 2013. That means 37 percent of that family's income was spent on health care expenses.

By comparison, self care is virtually free. In Mary's case, we were able to alleviate her back pain with proper exercise and stretching, which cost her nothing but time and effort. She treated the common root cause of back pain: tight and imbalanced muscles. By doing so, she completely avoided costly and possibly ineffective back surgery. Most importantly, Mary regained a sense of control over her body and her life.

Lose the Scary Side Effects

Don't you find it frightening to listen to some of the side effects of prescription drugs? Seizures, hallucinations, paralysis and death. Fairly serious. Risky behavior, enlarged breasts in men and my personal favorite, "swollen, black or hairy tongue." Thanks, but I think I'll deal with the headache and the acne.

We're a pretty lazy bunch, happy to pop a pill to solve our problems, rather than taking the time to figure out what's really wrong. We want the quick fix, the easy way out. The trouble is, there isn't one.

Short-term fixes are the equivalent of a high-interest credit card: feel good now, feel much worse down the road. Maybe end up with a black, hairy tongue.

Do you know what the self care side effects are? When you exercise, practice mindfulness and eat a healthy diet, your side effects might equal more energy, weight loss and better moods. Doesn't that sound better than hallucinations?

Besides, if you're in pain, that's good information. That's your body doing its job and telling you there's something wrong. If your child told you she was hungry, you wouldn't block your ears and ignore her, would you ? No, you'd listen to what she needs and feed her.

Too often when our body is in pain, we numb it with drugs because we don't want to take the time to listen and find out exactly what's causing it.

Listen to your body. It knows what you need.

Wake Up Feeling Fantastic

If you've been bought into the common myth that being in pain and feeling like crap is normal, you're not alone. Pardon me, but that's a load of bulls#*t.

Remember when you were a kid and you skinned your knees? Didn't your body repair itself quickly and easily? That's what it's designed to do—to self heal. All you have to do is give it the right circumstances.

If you're not sure what those right circumstances are, ask your grandmother. A warm bowl of chicken soup, a cuddle and a good night's sleep will cure a cold just as well, if not better, than an over-the-counter medication. In fact, a lot of those cold meds actually suppress your body's ability to heal itself, which only prolongs the illness and can make you feel worse.

For many of us, our body is just something that hangs down from our head. We've completely lost touch. Getting to know your body again can be like rediscovering a long lost old friend. It's one of the most important things you'll ever do for your health and well-being. No one else can tell you as much about yourself as your own body.

There's heaps of great information out there in books and on the Web. Read up on what types of foods and activities are good for your health—I provide some tips on my website ( if you need a place to start. Basic things like eating fresh foods, moving your body and learning to manage stress can make a huge difference to how you feel. Often, you'll feel better than you have in years.

I invite you today to kick the quick-fix habit. Stop feeling sick and helpless within a broken health care system. Take back control, save money and feel better than you have in years by creating your own self care system.

Sonia Sommer is a Sun Valley-based practitioner of Structural Integration, Mindful Awareness teacher and modern shaman. She has been in private practice for the past 17 years, working with individuals from all walks of life, focusing on those seeking real transformation and personal evolution.