Have you ever witnessed a tragic non-fatal auto accident? It’s common for survivors to later report dissecting their actions leading up to the crash to see what went wrong. Similarly, chronic health challenges, such as fibromyalgia, can be analyzed to reveal more than you may think.
I’ve done this myself.
My decline into chronic illness was a very slow and long process. At one point, after buying a cane to help me navigate my way across parking lots, I realized that I was a lot closer to disability than I’d realized.
I was at a crossroads
I had to admit (at least to myself) that my health wasn’t improving. In fact, it was progressively worsening day by day. There was loss of mobility here … the gain of increased pain there.
I was devastated to see the life I’d known slip away.
I observed that taking no action wasn’t solving anything. I had to DO something whether it was right or not. I researched healing practices that were reported to slow down the progress of whole body deterioration. I had nothing to lose and gave them a try.
Of course, at that time, I didn’t know that
I was going to completely turn my life around
by healing from the inside out.
I first learned about the healing benefits of whole, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods. Then I applied the healing benefits of body movement. Lastly, I incorporated the healing benefits of emotional wellness practices including stress management.
I started out slowly. I began to eat better and to actually pay attention to the quality of foods that I consumed. I started to move my body on a daily basis in whatever limited way I could.
I saw results from my efforts and kept going.
At the time, I thought these practices were silly and would have little, if any, effect. I was wrong. But, I had to try. I now refer to these three healing practices in my book, FibroWHYalgia,
as The Restoration Trio: Nutrition
, Body Movement
, and Emotional Wellness
Applying the final component of The Restoration Trio – Emotional Wellness - was the most difficult for me. I wasn’t accustomed to paying attention to the negative chatter than ran through my mind. I wasn’t comfortable with slowing down and taking a look at my stress levels.
But it was the very act of slowing down,
that gave me the most clarity.
I remember having a specific moment of clarity during a tai chi class. I could clearly see what my life was like before I became “sick.” I could objectively view how I ran from one stressed out moment to the next. I constantly worried about my children, work projects, finances, caring for my home, and much more.
I rarely sat down to enjoy meals. Instead I grabbed what was handy and headed out the door. There wasn’t enough time to get everything done, so I took shortcuts wherever I could find them. Mostly, I cut out what seemed expendable to me – sleep. I went to bed late and got up early.
I tried to please everyone else, but my own wants and desires were nowhere in the mix. I wanted to do it all, but oddly, I never felt as if I were doing enough.
As I was thinking back on all of this frenetic behavior, it all looked so clear to me. I understood that … if I could do it all over again, I’d make the time to take better care of myself.
My next thought was, why not start now?
I made self-care activities a priority. I shifted my to-do lists to reflect my greatest desires of improved health. Instead of only getting to the gym if I could “find the time,” I made the time. I made sure that I had an assortment of healthy foods in the house because I decided that fixing nutritious meals was important to my overall goals.
I made a regular practice of enjoyable stress management activities such as guided imagery, restorative yoga, and even funny movies.
Is it time to evaluate your self-care practices?
Here’s the first question you need to answer: is taking care of yourself high enough on your to-do list to actually get done?
When I work with clients, they often have a difficult time with this shift. They state that putting the focus on self-care feels out of balance. They’re not used to putting the focus on themselves.
I completely understand. An out-of-balance life can contribute to an out-of-control health challenge. And, the very act of trying to restore balance can feel uncomfortable. At least, it can at first.
So, when beginning a new self-care routine, be patient with your progress. Be kind. Be persistent. I encourage you to start a new routine and add new practices as you go.
Did you ever think about the importance of self-care before you became ill? Don’t let another day go by.
Now, is the perfect time for you to take care … of you.
Sue Ingebretson (www.RebuildingWellness.com) is an author, speaker, certified holistic health care practitioner and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. She is also a Patient Advocate/Fibromyalgia Expert for the Alliance Health website and a Fibromyalgia editor for the ProHealth website community.
Her #1 Amazon best-selling chronic illness book, FibroWHYalgia, details her own journey from chronic illness to chronic wellness. She is also the creator of the FibroFrog™- a therapeutic stress-relieving tool which provides powerful healing benefits with fun and whimsy.
Would you like to find out more about the effects of STRESS on your body? Download Sue's free Is Stress Making You Sick? guide and discover your own Stress Profile by taking the surveys provided in this detailed 23-page report.