Happy Easter, Everyone! In accordance with the new blog direction that I mentioned in my last post, I’ve decided to share some lifestyle changes I’ve discovered that help me cope with my disability.
Yoga: Yoga is a huge game-changer for me. When practiced on a regular basis, it helps my muscle pain ridiculous amounts- more so than any medication, and more than any other exercise (although exercise alone is extremely important in recovery). It also helps maintain mental clarity, and boosts focus and self confidence. Yoga is all about respecting and honoring yourself, even in sickness. You can tailor routines to fit your needs, and you can always use a supporting block or a modified pose when you’re having too much pain or weakness. Routines are designed to help the body strip off the pollutants and burdens of life, and reach a state of elevated health, strength, and relaxation. It’s all about celebrating the life inside you, and bringing you to a heightened level of respect and knowledge of yourself and your body.
Zentangling: Zentangling is a type of meditative drawing that’s really helpful in eliminating the brain fog and stress that tend to accompany chronic illness. It’s sort of like yoga on paper. It involves drawing with repetitive motions that result in visually pleasing abstract “tiles” of art. It’s a good way to kill time in a waiting room, and it’s also really effective for stress relief. Another bonus: you feel accomplished once you’ve finished each piece. Anything that helps you feel productive and skilled when your resources are down is a good thing for the chronically ill.
Reading: I loved to read even before I got sick, but now it’s a vital part of my self-care. Before, I was going to class, seeing friends, getting constant sources of new information right in my face all the time. Now, I have to dig for those types of stimuli, but books are a way to keep my curiosity moving and my mind sharp. They are also a good distraction for when symptoms get bad, and they don’t take much physical energy.
Diet: Listening to your body is the most important component to any healthy diet. You’ve heard it before. Unfortunately, “listening to your body” gets a little more tricky when you’re sick, and it also involves more restriction than someone with a healthy body might have to endure. Avoiding the standard “junk foods,” e.g., anything with cheese powder, MSG, or hydrogenated fats will help you feel better no matter what your health base is. Additionally, I’ve found that I do better with less carbs (not a fad low-carb diet) since I’ve been sick. I’ve also developed allergies to dairy, almonds, and certain fruits. If you have symptoms of chronic illness, it might benefit you to have food sensitivity testing. Overall, though, you’ll hear a ton of information about which foods are “evil” and “the perfect human diet” and there really is no such thing. Food in our culture involved too much guilt and too many fads; the most important thing is eating what makes you feel good, and when you feel hungry. If you’re craving red meat, your body probably needs the iron. If you want sugar, have some fresh fruit, but don’t deny yourself the occasional ice cream or brownie (even if it needs to be coconut milk- based or gluten free).