I often get asked why I like making stuff at home so much. Turns out, it’s not as straight-forward of an answer as one might imagine. But it’s an important topic, nonetheless, because there are so many reasons why this is an integral part of my health and my life.
Hormones, Toxins, and Health
In order to really answer this question, I have to first talk about my own health challenges. While the full story is here, I can sum it up by stating that I personally have struggled, and continue to try to resolve, some major hormonal imbalances. To be specific, I’m still in the process of working through (medical-school-induced) adrenal fatigue, pituitary and sex hormone dysregulation, and some problems with insulin sensitivity. The fact that the common denominator to all these problems is the issue of hormone health has everything to do with why I DIY.
Many man-made compounds are based off of compounds that are found in the natural world. Relevant to this discussion is the fact that many manufactured elements mimic natural hormones. From synthetic fragrances to the preservatives in body care products and food items, these hormone-like compounds are ubiquitous in our modern world. While many people possess the health to go through our environment without being affected (or, more likely, minimally affected), some of us find that those external influences overwhelm our body’s capacity to deal with that extra hormonal burden. Furthermore, our hormonal milieu is intimately linked to our body’s ability to process and contain toxins from the external environment, and many unprocessed synthetic compounds can build up in the storage tissues of the body (fat, mostly).
All that being said, the actionable item for anyone interested in improving their health simply comes down to realizing what parts of our environment are subjecting us to undue toxins and hormone-like substances and subsequently limiting the exposure. Once I began to assess my exposure to toxins and synthetic compounds that could negatively effect my already tenuous hormonal status, I came to the realization that overwhelming majority of the culprits were the products I was using for my body and my home. Between toothpastes and laundry detergents, from shampoos to make up products, I was constantly exposing myself to a slew of artificial chemicals. The good news, I realized, was that I could recreate most of these products from scratch…and even make them exactly to my liking! Talk about a win-win situation.
Learning, Reducing Stress, and Having Fun
As many of us having realized, health encompasses much more than your physical environment. For me, being an active DIY-er became a way for me to consistently learn new things and to make myself feel good about what I was accomplishing. DIY-ing is something I do during days off to decompress and it feels good to work with my hands when the rest of my job is so cerebral.
Though it might seem initially contrary to the “relaxing” benefits I just discussed, DIY-ing is constantly challenging me to become more resilient to bumps-in-the-road and I find that that transfers well to my reaction to other problems that arise in my life. (In my mind, I liken this phenomenon to yoga, where being challenged and remaining relaxed is a big learning point.)
Money Savings and The Power to Choose
Last but not least, I love that making things at home gives me some extra financial flexibility. I used to spend a not-insignificant amount of money on make up, lotions, hair products, fermented products, and cleaning solutions (just to name a few!). And though I had some “start-up costs” associated with switching to DIY products and foods, I’ve saved a lot of my hard-earned moolah in the long run.
Even better news is that I like many of my homemade products even more than their store-bought equivalents. I used to routinely buy some hair product only to find that I didn’t like it past that one initial use (and the bottle would sit there, taking up space in my bathroom). Now, I can simply try a small portion that I’ve made and discontinue it without wasting a lot of resources. I also have complete control over tweaking the stuff I make so that I make it exactly to my liking. This is especially true when it comes to make up, which is so individualized in undertones and colors, and to cleaning products, which can be tailored perfectly to each need I have.
All in all, having control over what goes on my skin and the products in my home has been incredibly rewarding.
But I want to hear from you all! Why do you DIY?