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. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Save Spoons

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.


Save Spoons. Christine Mierandino elegantly gave the chronic illness community a way to explain our energy levels. Basically, we are given a certain number of spoons or energy each day. When you live your life with a health condition, you must make choices about how you plan to use those spoons. Many days, just waking up and getting out of bed consumes a spoon or two. As the day continues, you have to make choices of how you want to divide up those spoons because there is a limit.

Today, save some spoons just for yourself. It has to be a conscious decision because they go quickly and you can't get them back. Also, remember it is okay to end the day with a spoon or two unused.

Recently, I saw a neighbor walking on the other side of the street with just one of her two dogs. Just as I was about to inquire about the missing dog, I stopped myself. I reminded myself that I am a person who soaks up other's feelings and that day my spoons were almost gone. While I felt sad letting the conversation go because I know her dog is old and has been sick, I knew it was better to save it for another day. I needed the spoons I had left for other things that day. Was that selfish of me? Inconsiderate? No. It was me counting my spoons and acknowledging I have limits.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Self-Care with a Chronic Illness: Say "Hi"

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.

Say "Hi"Today, challenge yourself to say "hi" to at least five strangers. The simple act of communicating with someone you don't know is MAGICAL.

I have found that mornings are the best time to receive a  "hello" back but there is definitely a certain thrill that comes when you can get a person to say "hello" back at night with a smile. Give it a try. It is simple and feels so good.