Okay you guys. I’m not going to lie to you. As I’m writing this, I’m laying on the couch watching football and drinking a smoothie because my back is in so much pain it hurts to do anything else. Honestly, my symptoms have been pretty darn under control lately, thanks to my meds and my FibroAid, but I guess I overdid it this week!
That’s why I want to talk about self care. Not the face masks and spa days kind of self care (although those are nice too). But I want to talk about the self care that keeps your pain manageable, your brain relatively clear of fog, and your energy levels high enough to do more than function. I want to talk about the kind of self care than allows you to live your best, happiest life, despite this annoying, sometimes debilitating illness.
Simple Self Care for Fibro Warriors
I know this inherently sounds selfish, but here’s the thing: it’s not! When you live with fibromyalgia, or any other chronic illness, putting your health and your needs first is sometimes essential. You know that saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup”? It’s one of my favorites, because it’s so true and so applicable. If you are run down, flaring, or just emotionally exhausted, you aren’t any good to anyone, including yourself. So in order to be a good friend, family member, employee, etc., you have to prioritize yourself and make sure you’re well taken care of.
I don’t necessarily mean go on some big hike or kayaking or skiing or anything, though if that’s what you enjoy, by all means, do it. But in order to keep it attainable and reasonable for all us fibro warriors, I’m just talking about getting some fresh air. Go sit on your back porch or lay in the grass. Walk around the block with your dog or take a stroll on the beach. Do something that gets you outside, looking at the beauty of nature, and breathing fresh air. It will help your mood and your overall wellbeing. I promise.
Take a Bath or a Shower
Bathing can sometimes seem like a daunting task when you’re in flare and fatigue mode. It can be a lot of work. But there’s something incredibly refreshing and rejuvenating about bathing. If a shower is too much for you (with the standing and such), try a nice hot bath. Throw in some epsom salts, maybe light a candle or two, and turn on a podcast or your favorite music. It’ll help relax your muscles and your brain, and you’ll feel like a new person. If showers are more your jam, get some fancy soap and shampoo to make it feel more luxurious. And I still recommend listening to podcasts. They just make everything better.
Cut Out the Toxic
I’m referring to people, things, responsibilities, all of it. Anything that doesn’t serve you, your loved ones, or your interests, cut it out of your life. Or, at the very least, don’t extoll too much energy on it. Because absolutely nothing is worth your peace of mind OR your physical health. I’m speaking from experience here too. I had to leave graduate school three months before graduation because of my health. My physical and mental health were deteriorating so quickly (I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few months later), that I just could no longer continue the way I was going. So I went on medical leave and finished my degree this spring, when everything was much more manageable
Do Something You Love
For me, it’s horseback riding, much to my body’s dismay sometimes. But in all honesty, it’s worth it for me. It’s my escape and it’s something I’ve loved and will continue to love for years. Even just spending time with my horse and giving him love, much like you would a dog, can be therapeutic. I think part of it is being outside, but there’s something about doing something you love that is incredibly revitalizing. That’s also why I blog. Blogging is my creative outlet and a way for me to articulate my thoughts. It’s a way for me to feel like I’m doing something (because I am), even when I’m in so much pain I can’t move. Blogging and my horse are what got me through the worst months of my health so far, and I’m not sure how I would have made it through otherwise. So find something that gives you a reason to wake up, a reason to get up (if you can), a reason to function. Because having a feeling of purpose and something to look forward to is the ultimate form of self care.