Posts tagged ‘self-care’

September 25, 2017

#536 – #RABlogWeek: Day 1 – Mental Health and RA

 

In a workshop, I once asked when I would finally be over an issue that plagued me most of my life. “When you’re dead,” came the swift and pointed reply. Upon reflection, I gleaned the wisdom in those words. Life is an evolving process, with ups and downs, twists and turns. It’s an ever-changing kaleidoscope of emotions, thoughts and feelings, all of which are impacted by hormones, food, exercise, sleep, medical conditions such as RA, work, social scene, climate, perceptions and more. In other words, life.

 

 

Mental health is very much dependent upon cultivating resources, particularly those that enable you to weather the storms, which can vary in duration and severity. It is about taking action and being directly involved in your own well-being. Action that can be as simple as learning the importance of breathing, something you do anyway, so why not make it count. Action that involves reaching out for help to learn strategies to help you navigate your life. Action that helps you cultivate your innate healing powers and wisdom in order to recognize that while it may not be fair, your life path is strewn with bumps, hurdles, detours and stops. It also includes beautiful scenery, unexpected journeys and friends, new and old.

The diagnosis of a chronic illness, such as RA (rheumatoid arthritis), can send you into a nose-dive. Frustration, impatience, pain, regret, guilt, fear, sadness, etc. –  the list can be a large storm surge of negative, stress-producing emotions, thoughts and feelings.

The Dark Days

I’ve experienced periods, some longer than others, when it seems that I am in the winter of my discontent. I won’t bore you with the details, but some adjectives that applied during those times are useless, incompetent, pointless and hopeless. Neither work, nor friends or family seemed to get me out of that darkness. However, gradually, the light got in, the heaviness lifted and I found my equilibrium. All of that was pre-Auntie Stress days. It turns out that there is wisdom in growing older. Imagine that!

My Strategies

Now, my toolbox is full of self-care/self-help strategies. As the primary driver of the vehicle that is me, it is empowering to take responsibility, (even if sometimes I’d rather not!), for my life. If not me, who then? After all, I have the most vested in me. I am here from the beginning to the end, through thick and thin, sadness and joy, disappointments and successes.

However, that does not mean I am the island that John Donne elegantly wrote in 1624: “No man is an Island, entire of it self; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main.”

When I’m feeling wretched I know that I can do something about it. I am also aware that I won’t feel that way forever, just like I know that a flare won’t last forever, if you take steps to address it. In this instant world we live in, we’ve been conditioned to having things happen right when we want them to. Life does not necessarily work that way. It can take as long as it takes – not much comfort when you are fighting a flare or flailing around in the whirlpool of despair.

I’ve learned to dig deeper. Breathe. Use the power of my heart. Ask what I need versus what I want. Breathe. Use the power of my heart. Don’t eat my feelings – a decades long habit that I’ve mainly overcome. (Yes, I have set-backs, but not like I used to!) Breathe. Use the power of my heart. Spend time doing the things important to me, such as spending time in nature. Exercise helps, as does realizing that mood and food are very much related. Breathe. Use the power of my heart. Sleep, or lack thereof, is a huge mood downer for me. I am faithful to my sleep regimes, because when I’m not, I don’t want to know me! Yes – more breathing and more heart power.

I have dark days, like anyone else. Challenges. Family concerns. A chronic illness. Dashed dreams. Unfilled wishes. I work on not letting the broken sewer pump of negative emotions flood my life. If I need to rise above the dark stinky mess, I first turn on the light and rummage around for one of the many techniques in my toolbox. If I can’t find the right tool, I know where to go for help. However, there is usually always something there to help me move forward.

Cultivate Your Resources

It can be an easy trip down the road to despair, especially if you have a chronic illness. RA has a voracious appetite for energy. It can be relentless in a flare, resulting in a tsunami of damage, that leaves a path of destruction that can touch many aspects of your life – work, relationships and  finances, to name a few.

You have more power than you realize over your emotions, thoughts and emotions. Be patient. Breathe. Access the power of your heart. Add to your toolbox. Trust yourself. Give yourself time to learn, change and grow. Build a support system, whatever that looks like to you. Access and cultivate your resources. Just like life, the road to well-being is an on-going process.

Finally, ask the birds to leave your hair alone and go build a nest elsewhere!

 

 

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June 6, 2012

Children, Self-Care and Vacuuming

I’m delighted to introduce you to Harmony Wilderson, who has blog entitled Laughing Through the Pain of RA. She graciously and good-naturedly accepted my request to do a guest post. This practical post is all about setting priorities.

RA symptoms can sap your strength and leech the fun right out of you. But if you’re the parent of young children, you need to maintain the highest level of wellness possible. Nap time for the kids is a great chance to catch up on a little TLC.

Years ago, my children’s nap time meant two hours of frantic cleaning. My house looked great, but by evening, I didn’t care. The pain and stiffness in my joints overwhelmed my feelings of accomplishment.

Now I keep my Dr. Scholl’s Paraffin Spa out-of-reach but handy. While the grandchild sleeps, I coat my hands with several thick layers of hot wax, wrap them in a soft towel, and let the heat restore me. Better than vacuuming, any day.

Image courtesy of Armin Hanisch.

January 12, 2012

Self-Care Tools

Regardless of whether they’re made of plastic, wire or metal, they all help to ease tight muscles, which allow joints to move a little more freely.

January 6, 2012

Going My Way?

The dentist has one. Your hair salon has a few. It’s likely your chiropractor and massage therapist each have one, too.

I’m talking about adjustable chairs and tables.

When your treatment or service is over, and you’re back on your way down, simply ask whoever is operating the chair or table to stop at the height that is appropriate for you.

My preference is to get off the chair or table when it is at a higher point.

Image courtesy of Stef.

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