New Year’s resolutions are, for me, a double-edged sword; on the one hand, I love goals and think that they can be great motivators. On the other, they tend to trigger my “type A” tendencies because they put just one (or many) more things on the “to do” list – and if I don’t end up following through, then I will sometimes beat myself up a little.
So I’ve narrowed my New Year’s resolutions for this coming year to just one. I figure I can manage that – although it’s a pretty big one, to be honest. (And isn’t it just like a type A person to create one huge resolution in lieu of 10 smaller ones?) Never mind. I’m going for it, because it’s one of those things that will pay huge dividends in terms of my health if I can manage to do it.
The resolution? Putting more balance back into my life. Over the past few years, I have done little more with my days other than work to bring in the bacon as I also work on my health. Work, and more work. My limited time and energy have meant I’ve had little room for rest, recreation, friends, family and just about anything else.
Having to work while managing health challenges is hard. And if you’re like me, you know that if you have to work while you’re sick, you often have little energy or time for anything else. All of your energy reserves go toward meeting your basic survival needs. This means you can’t do everything. So when it comes down to choosing between work, rest and/or a social life, if you are like me, you end up shafting the latter two. Because let’s face it, you have to eat, you need a roof over your head, and you need money for medical treatments, or at least a handful of supplements to stay functional.
Lyme isn’t the big demon I’m battling right now, but I had a setback with my health this year due to mold exposure and damage to my spinal cord as a result of some PRP injections. So I’m back into “work to eat, and work to recover” mode, and I haven’t had much rest, recreation or social interaction—for a long time.
The problem with doing life this way—no matter that it is sometimes just thrust upon you—is that we were created with needs besides food and shelter, and if we ignore those needs, it’s difficult for us to be healthy – never mind even recover from illness. Those needs include social interaction; fun, rest and time to renew the mind and spirit. Work, or productivity, is also a need. We have all been created with a purpose, and when we can’t produce or fulfill our purpose through meaningful work, then this is also detrimental to the soul.
But one of the challenging catch 22’s of chronic illness is that you may need more rest and relaxation time, or social support, than the average person. Yet you may find yourself with less because you need to spend what little time and energy that you do have, working, raising kids and/or managing a complicated treatment regimen.
Sometimes, that’s just the way it is and even the best of intentions won’t buy you five more minutes of downtime or free time. I discovered this over the past couple of years when my sweetheart Bill suffered a heart attack and then a mild stroke, both while I was in the midst of dealing with my own health challenges and working.
At times, I felt like I was drowning because there were months when I didn’t have two minutes of downtime, although thankfully, I survived by the grace of God. Now that things have stabilized a bit more, I have realized that I need to find ways to create more balance in my life.
I discuss the topic of balance a lot in my books, so it’s not as if I haven’t understood how important a well-rounded life is for recovery. I’ve known that since the beginning of my journey with Lyme, but I’m moving from a place of understanding that it matters, to now knowing that is imperative for my health. As in, nothing else matters if I don’t get this right.
Have you ever been in that place? I mean, feeling a pull to live one way out of a sense of obligation, fear or practicality (by the way, fear often disguises itself as practicality), and yet knowing that if you don’t go against the grain, you’ll never get better? Or at least continue to live in a place of mediocrity, which will keep you from some much-needed soul food?
Every good thing in life involves risk, and this coming year, my New Year’s resolution (and risk) is to restore balance to my life—even if I don’t know how I’ll manage it, and even if it means getting by on less income so that I can rest more, or have more fun. For me, it means baby steps. That might look like:
· Going to lunch with a friend a couple of times per month
· Joining a spiritual support group and attending bi-monthly meetings
· Spending an hour in prayer and/or meditation in the morning
· Spending more time in the outdoors a few times per week. That might mean reading a good book on the patio or taking a walk in the park
· Going window-shopping or to a coffee shop for an hour to break the monotony of working from home
· Making it a point to schedule a short trip or getaway on occasion, even if it’s only for a few days
Notice that my list doesn’t include huge plans every single week. That would feel like pressure to me and defeat the purpose. But getting out every now and again is enough to keep my spirit and soul happy (or at least sane!) and help me to feel like I can have some semblance of a normal life.
So my goal for 2017 is balance, because, no matter the challenges I face, I know that I was created with the need for human interaction. I was created with the need to spend time with my Creator and to do something with my life besides sit in front of the computer or work on improving my health. And so were you!
You may feel as though you have no choice but to work, or do anything else besides work on your recovery. You may be very sick, and let’s face it, doing anything can be hard when you are sick. Nonetheless, I encourage you to aim for a bit of balance in your life, too- if you don’t have much of it.
For instance, if you can’t leave the house, take time to immerse yourself in hobbies and projects that don’t revolve around Lyme disease. Take some time to connect with others, and/or to get involved in a new activity or two that will feed your spirit and soul. If you don’t know what that might be, close your eyes and think about what you used to enjoy in life that you could still do today from home. Maybe it’s watching YouTube videos about a country that you used to visit or love. Maybe it’s drawing, or journaling, or volunteering to pray with others. Maybe it’s reading about a subject you always wanted to study, like gardening or basket weaving. Even if it’s not something you can do right now, learning about it can help you to keep your thoughts on things that give you joy.
In any case, the goal should be to find activities that will feed not only your physical body, but your spirit and soul as well. Because it can be difficult to get healed when your spirit and soul are starving, or when your life becomes about little else besides Lyme. I speak from experience on this one, and I’m still learning.
May your 2017 be filled with hope, happiness, greater health and…balance!
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Connie Strasheim is the author, co-author or ghostwriter of 10 wellness books, including four on Lyme disease, and the just-released New Paradigms in Lyme Disease Treatment: 10 Top Doctors Real Healing Strategies that Work. She is also a medical copywriter and Editor of Pro Health’s Lyme disease page, as well as Editor of the Alternative Cancer Research Institute. Her passion is to help people with complex chronic illnesses find freedom from disease and soul-spirit sickness using whole body medicine and prayer, and she collaborates with some of the world’s best integrative doctors to do this. In addition to Lyme disease, Connie’s books focus on cancer, nutrition, detoxification and spiritual healing. You can learn more about her work at: www.ConnieStrasheim.org.