Saturday, May 27, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Visualize Yourself Well

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

Visualize yourself well.  When I look back over our family photos, I instantly can tell which pictures were taken when rheumatoid arthritis was playing a huge part in my life and that feeling crawls right back into my memory. It isn't a place I like to visit. Some pictures bring tears of compassion knowing how much pain I was experiencing at the time.

On the other hand, during some of my worst days, I found that when I visualized myself healthy and pain-free, a smile instantly took over to comfort me. 
  • See yourself jumping out of bed without stiff joints
  • Imagine yourself receiving a big hug that nourishes and doesn't hurt you. Soak that hug in.
  • Look at photos of yourself doing the things you love doing not as a pity party but a reminder of days to come.
  • Draw pictures of yourself as the beautiful person you are because truly, you are beautiful and perfect.  
  • Photograph or cut out things you still want to do in life.

Sometimes the pain has been so extreme for so long that we forget who we were and what we did before our illness took over. When that happens, ask for help from your family. Let them guide your memories.

Visualization isn't ignoring the fact that your body has changed but instead is a way of keeping hope that the right treatment hasn't yet been matched with your individual body and that hope still remains. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Spread Good Vibes

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

My fourth Life is Good t-shirt!
Spread Good Vibes. It seems that so many of my self-care reminders/tips go back to being kind to others. In The Book of Joy, Archbishop Tutu says, "Generosity is so deeply rooted in us."  

In the book, three types of generosity are described:

  • material giving
  • giving freedom from fear (protections, counseling, and solace)
  • spiritual giving (sharing your wisdom, teaching others, and helping others to be self-sufficient and happier)
As you go out into the world today, spread good vibes. Be generous as you tip for your morning coffee, listen to a friend in need or read a news story with a fresh perspective, and most importantly share your attention, your friendly words, and your smiles. The winds may just blow those kind deeds back at you. 


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Move

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

Move. Not every day is a good day to move. Some days we need to recognize our limits and rest. However, when possible, MOVE! 

  • Lots of pain today? Try gently rolling your ankles and wrists as you veg out on Netflix.
  • Stiff but able to get out of bed? Go for a short walk. The sun and wind often change your mood instantly.
  • Not sure how movement will affect you today? Julie, over at It's Just a Bad Day, Not a Bad Life shares some great tips for chair yoga.
  • Feeling like you can take on the world? Go for a bike ride, lift weights, hike, hold hands and skip with your kids. We don't have these days every day so embrace them while you can.    

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Compassion for Yourself

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

Compassion for Yourself. Being part of a chronic illness community, we often find ourselves sharing kind words with others who are struggling. We send virtual hugs, healing thoughts and/or prayers, and we let each other know that support is available. We see ourselves through the eyes of our friend who is in pain and try to bring comfort and understanding to them.

But what about yourself? Do you have compassion for yourself? Do you treat yourself as you would a friend? Do you say loving things to yourself and remind yourself to be get the sleep and care you deserve? My guess is "No." We tend to feel angry towards our bodies and are stubborn about continuing life as we did before our symptoms appeared. For some reason, the rules aren't the same as they are for a friend in need.

Today, show yourself compassion. It doesn't mean you are weak. It isn't a luxury. It is a necessity. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Essential Oils

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

Essential Oils. On days that I need a little pick-me-up, I turn to essential oils and one of my two diffusers. I have an assortment of scents and let my mood dictate which one I will use. Sometimes I prepare the diffuser before leaving the house so when I return I can instantly get it going.

  • Orange and lemon are motivating as you clean the house
  • Peppermint or Eucalyptus invigorate as you bathe or soothe a sick body
  • Lavender is wonderful as you prepare for bed or sit to read a good book
  • Frankincense, one of my favorites, is known for assisting in relief from stress 
  • Try mixing oils or buying a premixed variety 
  • Essential oils are fabulous in your homemade cleaning products!


     

Monday, May 22, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Read

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

Read.  How often do you read a book? 

To me, reading a book is very different than reading on my phone or computer. When I read a book, my mind gets totally caught up in the content rather than wondering what is happening on social media. It feels like my brain gets the break it truly deserves. 

I admit that when our fingers and wrists are sore, reading a book can be painful. But at the same time, I find that when I am in pain, reading about other people's experiences takes me out of my own and allows me to feel empathy for others. 

Not enough time to read? I find that even if I read 10 minutes a day in my favorite chair, I am ready to tackle the world again. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Step Away From the Computer

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.


Step Away From the Computer. For so many of us, social media is a place of friendship, community, and support. We have found others like us who completely get what it is like to live with a chronic illness. However, sometimes it is good to just step away. 

I recently wrote a piece for Creaky Joints titled Self-Care with Rheumatoid Arthritis: Take a Break From Social Media. I shared how my mind was too wrapped up in the thoughts and opinions of others and just needed a break to find quiet again. A weekend break turned into a month long break. During this time I woke up and chose to meditate in my favorite chair and read a book that nourished my soul rather than check in on others. I found myself calmer and happier. My eyes were focused on my family and all the wonderful things around me rather than buried in Facebook or Instagram. It was wonderful. 

For today, try it! Take one day or even one hour where you step away from it all. Let the happenings of your friends and family go unnoticed for a period of time. During my break I found it refreshing to actually hear about what was happening to others from their own mouths.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Ask For Help

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

Ask For HelpAsking for help is one of the most difficult things to do for almost every person I have met with a chronic illness. We often feel like we need to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we still have it in us to do everything or we feel like we have already been more of a burden on others than we feel comfortable with. But one thing I have come to understand is that our family and friends don't like seeing us in pain and by us asking them for help (not the kind of help that comes when you are burned out and yelling), we are providing one simple way they can really help us. They want to take away our pain and sleepless nights but they can't. Helping us is one thing they can do and want to do.   

During my worst days with rheumatoid arthritis, a very able-bodied mom in our homeschool community emailed the group and shared that she had been overwhelmed with life lately and needed help with cleaning, running errands, babysitting,etc. Yikes! It was a wake up call that help is okay to ask for even when you aren't dealing with a health condition. Her email showed me strength not weakness. Plus, I was amazed at how many people welcomed the invitation to help. It created friendship and a social bonding that I hadn't expected. In addition, it opened the door for others to ask for help when needed.     

Go ahead, do it for yourself, but also do it for others. They want to help you. You just have to let them.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Pamper Yourself

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

Pamper Yourself. After a long week of work, I like to plan something into my day or night that feels uniquely special to me.
  • Get a pedicure or just paint your own nails
  • Enjoy your favorite chocolate (even better, couple it with a glass of wine)
  • Go for a massage
  • Take a nap
  • Order your favorite coffee drink 
  • Enjoy a meal you don't usually indulge in
What's your favorite way to pamper yourself?




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Reduce Your "To Do" List

It's Arthritis Awareness Month! This month I am challenging you to take a little time each day and practice better self-care. Each day in May, I plan to share one simple way you can show yourself some love and appreciation.

Reduce Your "To Do" List.  There is a great thrill that comes from checking things off a "to do" list. There is a sense of accomplishment that feels wonderful. However, today, keep your list to only three events. 

We are often overbooked and overworked. Limiting your list gives you the opportunity to evaluate what you really need to do. Can someone else make dinner or pick up groceries? Does laundry really need to be done today? Choose the things that matter today and leave the others for another day or for someone else. 

I find that when I limit my list to three things, I end up spending more time listening to my family rather than rushing them along so I can check off my next job. I find myself sitting outside with a cup of tea or taking an extra walk. I laugh more. Leave room in your day for the unexpected.