You wake up and flip over (if you even slept that night) and you know by just that slightest movement that it is going to be a long, draining, and painful day. At that point you have to make several decisions. Do I get out of bed or do I stay in bed longer and get some rest? Should I stay in my pajamas or do I use what little energy I have right now and get dressed for the day? Do I got to work or do I call in and use one of my sick days? As someone that has a chronic illness you have to make more choices then the average person. I have always envied those that could just pop out of bed and do their morning routine thoughtlessly and on autopilot. Envy is not a good emotion nor is a bad attitude first thing in the morning so I had to make some changes to how I managed my mornings and I thought I would share them with you.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. ~Marcus Aurelius~
Mornings set the tone for your entire day so it is good to be mindful of your thoughts and words in the morning. Giving thanks that you are alive and that you have been blessed with a new day on this earth is a great way to start the morning. I simply say “Thank you” when I awake. You can thank your God, The Universe, or even spouse or family member for just being in your world. There is a connection between gratitude and health that goes back a long way.
Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system. “There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function,” says Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah. In one, researchers comparing the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress found that, by midterm, students characterized as optimistic (based on survey responses) maintained higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system, compared with their more pessimistic classmates.
Optimism also has a positive health impact on people with compromised health. In separate studies, patients confronting AIDS, as well as those preparing to undergo surgery, had better health outcomes when they maintained attitudes of optimism.
HAVE REALISTIC GOALS ACCORDING TO YOUR SYMPTOMS
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.
If you are in a flare (a increase of pain or symptoms) make sure to set realistic goals for the day. Not completing what you intended to do can bring on a flood of negative emotions that will just make you feel worse. Remember not to attach your self worth to what you can and can not finish that day. It is great to have goals even during a flare but you need to be realistic about what you can accomplish. Yesterday you might have been able to walk a mile and today you might only be able to go to your mail box and that is okay because you did something! Staying in bed I think is the worst thing you can do. It gives you to much time to think about the pain. Even if you go from the bed to the sofa to watch a movie to cheer you up it is better then staying in bed all day. By doing things that you enjoy you can distract yourself from your symptoms. Try to keep your mind busy and take a couple naps! You will find you are not as focused on the illness if you keep your mind occupied.
DON’T FEEL GUILTY IF YOU HAVE TO CANCEL PLANS
A true friend is one who thinks you are a good egg even if you are half-cracked.
One thing you do find out having a chronic illness is who your real family and friends are. Breaking plans is always a unpleasant experience that no one likes to do but if you can barely walk, that trip to the zoo is most likely not going to happen. It can be very disappointing for both parties involved. Feeling guilty or someone else making you feel guilty about something that is out of your control can really take a blow at your self esteem. People sometimes say some not so nice things when you break plans with them. Their feelings are THEIR FEELINGS and they are entitled to them. How you react to it or let it effect you is your choice. No one can make you feel guilty about it but you. It is not a easy thing to do but it is possible. When you start to get those feelings of guilt tell yourself you did nothing wrong and you are doing the best thing for your body right now. It is important to remind yourself that it is okay you broke plans because it was the best thing for you to do so that you can start your path to healing your body.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND TO OTHERS
Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are. ~Author Unknown~
When you are having a bad day you need to be extra kind to yourself . Although this might sound selfish it is necessary to take extra good care of yourself when you are in a flare. Be kind to your body and eat healthy foods. Be kind to you mind and soul by doing things that you enjoy. Reading a book, crocheting, listening to music, or taking a short walk outside whatever makes you feel better on the inside. If you feel better on the inside you will physically start to feel better. It is also important to continue to be kind to others. Kindness actively changes your body’s biochemistry to produce “positive” chemicals, you can change both your psychological and physical responses through giving/receiving kindness. Positive emotional experiences help soothe your body, reduce stress and improve your sense of well-being and it also makes you and the other person feel good.
“Don’t rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can’t love and respect yourself – no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are – completely; the good and the bad – and make changes as YOU see fit – not because you think someone else wants you to be different.”