Top Ten Health Tips That Have Never Worked for Me

I get lots of advice on how to regain my health; so far, nothing has worked.

Posted Aug 08, 2015

Public Domain
"Waiting" watercolor by Winslow Homer (1880)
Source: Public Domain

Ever since a seemingly acute viral infection in 2001 turned into a chronic illness, I’ve received dozens and dozens of tips on how to regain my health. This piece is intended to be lighthearted, not meanhearted, which is why I’d be thrilled if someone reading one of these tips can honestly say: “That one helped me!” 

Without further ado, here are the Top Ten Health Tips That Have Never Worked for Me.

Number 10. Drink lots and lots of water

Unfortunately, the only effect that drinking more water has on me is that I have to go to the bathroom more often. If peeing more often made me healthy, I’d be the healthiest person on earth.

Number 9. Use your mind to heal your body

I hear this popular saying at almost every turn, but I’ll be frank: Would it have been a good idea to decline medical treatment in favor of trying to use my mind to heal the cancer that developed in my breast last year? I don’t think that would have done the job. I opted for medical intervention and, instead, used my mind to practice self-compassion.

Number 8. Take Probiotics (or Ubiquinol, N-Aceytl Cysteine, SAM-e, B12, Acetyl-L Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera)

Tried them all—and another dozen not listed here. Health unchanged.

Number 7. Gain some weight (variation: Loose some weight)

Done both. Health unchanged.

Number 6. Eat Vegan (variation: Eat Paleo)

Two polar opposite diets. Tried Both. Still sick.

Number 5. Fast

Sad to say, all this accomplished was to make me extremely hungry.

Number 4. Exercise

I’ve tried almost everything, from qigong to lifting light weights to Pilates. I’m sure they’ve been beneficial for me, but none of them made me less sick.

Number 3. Uncover childhood trauma

I’m not making light of this serious subject, but I do question its overbroad application to chronic pain and illness. Several popular health books state that childhood trauma is the root cause of pain and illness. People have written to me, urging me to pursue this avenue as a cure. It might be the key to recovery for some people but, for me, all I can say about uncovering childhood trauma (and there were two of them): Been there; done that; health unchanged.

Number 2. Stop using all electronic devices

I admit that I haven’t given all of them up, so I can’t say for sure I wouldn’t recover my health if, once and for all, I turned off the television, my landline and cell phones (not that I use the latter much), and my computer. Turning off my computer would put an end to my writing, to my ability to reach out to others on the internet (as I’m doing here), and to communicating with others via email and text messaging (I use the latter with family when I want or need to reach them quickly).

Although I don’t have proof that this health tip wouldn’t work, I’m 99% certain that if I never used another electronic device, not only would I still be sick, but all I’d get for my effort would be a diminished quality of life, including more isolation.

And the Number 1 health tip that has never worked for me:

Pretending I’m not sick!


What’s the lesson in all of this? I’d say it’s to keep trying treatments that sound reasonable, but not to tie your sense of well-being and your ability to be content with life to having them work. My best to everyone.

© 2015 Toni Bernhard. Thank you for reading my work. I’m the author of three books:

How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers (Second Edition) 2018

How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide (2015)

How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and Sorrow (2013)

All of my books are available in audio format from Amazon,, and iTunes.

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