Take Care Of Yourself
Over the last couple months, I’ve been overdoing it physically, staying up too late, and eating too much junk food. My stress levels have been very high with selling a house, moving into an apartment, and the changes these things have brought for both myself and my children. Add in unexpected problems, and this leads to overwhelm!!
I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to do a better job taking care of myself EVERYDAY, and not just when pain and fatigue flare up. So I went to my friend Google looking for inspiration and tips.
The first thing I found was Self-Care Plans, Our Roadmap by Terri at her Reclaiming Hope Blog. Terri talks about the importance of having a simple plan in place to guide us no matter what our days are like. She promotes daily self-care to lessen those bad days. She encourages me when she says:
“Sometimes when we’re in the middle of those horrific flares or we feel as if we’re slogging through mud with every step we take, being able to take out our plan and say, “well, I can at least do ___________ today” can help us shake off the blues that naturally come along with the bad days and give us something other than how bad we feel to focus on. Doing that one thing from our plan can give us a sense of accomplishment and allow us to move forward.”
She bases her self care plan on the word “HOPE: Healthy Diet, Optimism, Prayer and Meditation, and Exercise.”
As I thought about the word HOPE and Terri’s plan, I created one of my own.
- Healthy Diet: Eat one fruit and one salad each day to start with. Increase to 5 fruit/veg servings per day. Make a meal plan each week, and stick to it. Stop eating sugar and wheat. Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day.
- Optimism: I borrowed Terri’s idea here-“concentrate more on the things I can do and less on the things I cannot do.” Read devotion and Bible passage from the First 5 app before I do anything on the computer or my phone. Listen to uplifting music. (For me that is Christian praise music.)
- Prayer and Meditation: First 5 app daily, journaling and artwork 3 x a week.
- Exercise: I’ve been using a Garmin to track my steps. I take my dog outside about every 2 hours during the day, and I try to circle the building with her each time. I try to get 4000 steps each day, but this doesn’t happen on bad days. More than 5000 steps and I’ve overdone it. I’ve had my Garmin for a little over two years. When I first started using it I was doing good to get about 1200 steps per day. Since moving, I literally have to take the dog out and walk her. No more fenced in yard. (Maybe this is part of the reason I’ve been so tired; I’ve doubled my daily steps since moving!)
Stretch every other day.
I’m in the process of creating a tracker to help me mark off servings of fruits/veggies, glasses of water consumed and walking in the park with my pooch. Or maybe I’ll just use My Fitness Pal, since I need to lose weight, and it keeps track of what I eat as well.
Care For Difficult Days
Then I found an article by Donna at February Stars called “Seven Tips For Dealing With Difficult Days.” As I read her seven tips, it dawned on me that these tips would help me everyday. If I would take care of myself on okay days, maybe it would be easier to deal with the unexpected problems that come my way. Here are Donna’s tips:
1. Focus on the present moment. If I would focus on the present, instead of what might happen in the future, or fretting about what has already happened, I would have more energy to deal with a crisis.
2. Listen to your body. This is such a difficult one for me. After a weekend of gastrointestinal upset, I felt so hungry on Tuesday. After a small amount of food my stomach was saying “I’m full,” but my head kept telling me to eat more. I thought “Even my body is confused.” I chose to stop eating and listen to my tummy. Oh, but how many times in July did I overeat due to stress! I didn’t listen to the sensations of fullness and overate anyway. No wonder my gut had enough and revolted.
3. Rest as much and for as long as you need to. Here is another one that I don’t follow. Even when I’m tired I keep playing one more computer game. Or I lay down for a nap and take my phone with me. Then I wonder why my arms and neck are killing me.
4. Tell someone how you are feeling. Most of the time I’m pretty good at this one, though there are times that I keep things to myself.
5. Pamper yourself. I rarely do this, but I have been working on it. For example when I shave my legs, I put Epsom’s Salt in the tub, and fill it a bit with warm water. So I do three things at once- shave, soak, and soften my nails for cutting. By the way, I don’t do this when I’m showering. It’s too much at one time.
6. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Another tip that I have to keep reminding myself about. My energy levels plummet when I’m beating myself up. I am getting better at catching myself, though.
7. Stay hydrated & eat nutrient-rich foods. Do Mounds bars count as nutritious food? Yeah, I didn’t think so. I try to drink enough, because my medications make my mouth dry. In this summer heat though, I sometimes fall behind. This leads me back to Terri’s Self-Care Roadmap.
I think these two articles have given me plenty to think about, and do. What about you? Do you need to do a better job at self-care everyday? Which of these tips or ideas will you add to your day to promote a more stable level of functioning? Don’t forget to take these ideas and make them yours. Not everyone has the same abilities and challenges.