Living with illness day-in and day-out not only wears on your body, but takes a toll on your mental health. It is hard to keep picking yourself up when you are in constant pain, hear a trail of bad news from health care practitioners, and experience the isolation that CI can bring. Depression and anxiety start to take a grip on your brain and it can be a very hard grip to shake. Taking time, daily, to give yourself a mental pick-me-up is an important part of keeping as healthy as possible.
- Pray/Meditate for guidance, for new ways to deal with your illness, for healing paths that bring comfort, and for people into your life who truly care.
- Listen to music that makes you happy………from Mozart to The Beatles from Madonna to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, music has a way of making us happy and allowing our minds to escape from reality – as least for a little while.
- Get outside in nature. Who doesn’t love looking at pictures of the beach, a flower in a field or a beautiful tree in a forest? To experience it in person allows you to internalize the beauty and refresh the soul.
- Drink a glass of filtered water. It is so important that we stay properly hydrated. It seems like such an easy thing to do but when you are in pain and nauseous, it can be a chore to take in enough fluids. Water is known to improve mood, reduce headaches and flush out toxins. Plain water does get boring, so adding lemon, cucumber, lime, orange, strawberries, even some fresh herbs such as mint or basil can add flavor and bring added benefits. Be creative!
- Sit outside and soak in some rays for 15 minutes. Sun increases your vitamin D levels which can give your immune system and mood a boost.
- Laugh. Get on-line and read some jokes, get on Pinterest, search for some funny memes, or watch a feel good movie……..laughter decreases stress hormones and increases endorphins, which are the feel good chemicals.
- Breathe……….sometimes we are so stressed we are not really breathing. Take some deep breaths, not forced, just natural. Our body NEEDS oxygen to live and deep breathing has been proven to have a positive impact on your brain, heart, digestion and immune system. Check-in with yourself at least twice a day to make sure you are really breathing.
- Journal. Sometimes the chronic illness monster gets the best of us. We just need to say stuff, swear like a drunken sailor, scream at the top of our lungs, yell at our doctors for not believing/helping/healing, and who are we to tell? When we are alone it is imperative that we get those thoughts and feelings out so they are not internalized, creating a breeding ground for more illness. Write those feelings down as they come. Do not worry about what it is or how it is written, just let it out.
- Do some gentle exercise like take a walk, a few yoga poses, ti chi, or stretches. Whenever possible, move your body as much as possible as this also releases endorphins, possibly reducing depressive symptoms. Walking to and from the bathroom and/or kitchen is way better than nothing.
- Eat a healthy snack. It is important that we continue to eat clean, healthy food despite our illnesses. Eating food in its most natural state is best for providing our bodies the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to function as highly as possible. A smoothie, a piece of fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds or 1/2 an avocado are all healthy and simple.
Until next time……………….You are a superhero! (Yes, I mean YOU!)