I did something last Sunday that broke my heart a little. It was something I needed to do, but it was still difficult. I told my Life Group co-teacher that I wouldn’t be teaching after February. This was a hard decision because I love the ladies in my Life Group and I love teaching.
Although it’s difficult, I know it’s necessary for me to take a step back from some of my commitments in order to do the things I need to do to feel better. As I mentioned in The Year of You, my flares have become fewer and further between, but as I did an honest assessment, I realized my day-to-day pain has increased.
I hadn’t realized my pain had gotten worse for a few reasons: the increase was gradual, I feel stronger than ever, and I’m able to work through whatever discomfort I’m feeling more often now. Once I realized the truth, though, I recognized that if I don’t do something about it now, my pain will likely continue to get worse.
I have to re-commit to my HOPE Plan and, for a while at least, make that my priority. That means letting go of some things, and though it’s hard, I know it’s the right decision.
As I revisit my HOPE plan, I may make some adjustments or try new things, but the key pillars of the plan will remain the same.
A healthy diet is so crucial to our body’s function, and can have a huge impact on the way we feel. For some of us with chronic illness, there may be foods that trigger symptoms and must be avoided. In general, we want to eat a good variety of real food that nourishes our bodies and helps us feel our best.
In this area, I look at:
- How I want to structure my meals
- What my restrictions will be on the number of times I eat out in a given week
- The types of foods I want to include in my diet every day
As we talked about in The ABC’s of Remaining Optimistic, being optimistic doesn’t mean that we have to have a Pollyanna-ish view of life. It means that we live with dynamic optimism: optimism based on action. We believe that we can take steps to make our lives better, regardless of our circumstances.
Some of the things I include in my plan for this area include:
- Stress reduction
Prayer and Meditation
For me personally, prayer is absolutely vital to my wellbeing. I realize that not everyone believes the way I do, and that’s fine – if you don’t want to pray, you could practice Mindfulness Meditation or another type of meditation if you wish.
My plan includes:
- Meditation on Scripture and/or Mindfulness Meditation
Exercise can be difficult, and it’s hard to be consistent with it sometimes, but movement is absolutely vital. When we can’t do “official exercise” we can still do some purposeful movement within our limitations. The important thing to remember is not to try to do too much too soon.
The easiest way to work more movement into our day is to:
- Start out by just getting a few more steps. Simply getting up every hour to move around a little bit can help immensely.
- Once we’re moving more, we can add some things such as stretching or posture exercises.
- Once we’re able to do these consistently, we can begin to add other types of exercise as we feel ready.
Having a self-care plan is critical. You may have seen the saying that, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” (Benjamin Franklin) We have to be proactive with our health, especially when we live with a chronic illness. We can’t depend on taking care of ourselves when we feel like it. If we do that, it might never get done.
Sometimes it can feel selfish to make taking care of ourselves a priority, but if we don’t take care of ourselves we can’t take care of those we love. Self-care doesn’t mean avoiding responsibility or giving up on “life as we knew it.” What it does mean is that we structure our environment to help us be successful with feeling as well as we possibly can.
Do you have a self-care plan? What types of things do you include in yours? Please share!