Earlier this week I posted the 10 self-care steps when dealing with pain and it got me thinking that I should post more about the topic of self-care. It seems that in the American culture we are always so busy taking care of everyone else, that we don’t stop and take care of ourselves. As pain patients, it seems as if we need to just push through the pain, and just keep smiling. As parents, our children come first. As a wife or husband, our spouses needs sometimes come before our own. It feels selfish to walk away from someone when they “need” us when we need to take a few moments to ourselves.
Is it selfish to make yourself a priority?
No. Taking care of ourselves is in the best interest of our families. As the saying goes, You can’t give away what you don’t have.
Then why is it so hard.
I struggle with this myself. I have the guilt, the shame, the feeling of obligation to my family, even when I’m in
pain. Pain that is so bad that I would rather just be in bed all day. However, here is the tricky part.
Finding some middle ground between what I want to do and what my body is physically capable of doing. Finding time so I can rest (self-care) and yet still be there for my family, without causing added stress on my body. It is a tough thing to figure out. Something I haven’t perfected yet and honestly, don’t know if I ever will. There are just too many aspects wrong with my body and too many variables to predict the outcome of how to balance them.
In the meantime I have implemented some self-care routines into my life to help me stay better on track mentally so that I can better prepare myself for the higher pain moments and days. The following is what I have started:
- Drink LOTS of coffee. (Okay, so that really doesn’t help, it maybe even hinders my anxiety a bit, but I enjoy it, so at LEAST a pot of coffee a day is a must have.)
- 4 days a week. I try
for 7 but I am not perfect. I would love to do it every day, but there are just some days, where it just isn’t going to happen.
- This is a daily routine. During the week, when I have more time, I meditate for 20-30 minutes a day. The weekends, its 2 minutes when I have a quiet, alone moment.
Doing meditation has helped me to pick up on the changes in my body quicker than I would have before doing this routine. To know when my body is starting to go downhill, so to say, and not realizing it, once I am in a full-blown pain storm. Also, I can use the same techniques that I use daily on the high pain moments/days. It helps to distract me from the pain and relax me as well. I am sure there are some other technical reasons, but for me it helps. 🙂
Journaling has also helped in tracking my moods. I suffer from anxiety and depression as well. So, as an example, I can come across to others as doing “okay” but really not being okay in my head. So, by writing down honest feelings in my journal, I can track and better get a grip on things and rework through thoughts before they happen to become a jumbled up mess in my head. But here is the thing, if you’re going to do something like this to help yourself, like the journaling, you have to really be honest with yourself. I know that struggling with a mental illness, we can try to fool ourselves into thinking we are okay, just like we try to come across to others that we are okay.
Be honest with yourself, if no one else.
You can carry out a self-care routine too. It’s not hard to do and it doesn’t have to be a big time commitment.
- Start with five minutes here or there.
- Start simply, then you won’t feel so overwhelmed.
- Calendar yourself in – Make sure you have time for yourself, even if it is 5 minutes in the car waiting to pick up your kids. Those little moments can be just as valuable to refocus yourself.
- Meditation – Take a few minutes a day and just sit and relax and focus on your breath.
- Write – journal or just take some time and write your thoughts
- Music – Put in a CD or stream a relaxing yet fun set of music. My go to is the older crooner music like Harry Conic Jr., Sinatra, and Nat King Cole. It always puts me in a good mood.
- Exercise – I know those of use with chronic pain find this so very difficult, myself included. Even stretch, or if you have resistance bands, can help. Just something to keep your muscles from becoming atrophied. Any bit is better than nothing.
*If you would like more suggestions, the Tiny Buddha has some “simple self-care practices for a healthy mind, body, and soul.” ( http://tinybuddha.com/blog/45-simple-self-care-practices-for-a-healthy-mind-body-and-soul/ )
All of us that struggle daily with pain, it wears on us greatly, our minds and our bodies. Please remember you aren’t the only one out there struggling. There are a lot of us out there with you and we are all just doing the best that we can to cope and deal with the hand that we have been dealt. Gentle hugs to you all and I hope you find some time to take care of yourself today.
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