Life in general requires overcoming challenges and obstacles of many types. Life with fibromyalgia introduces its own share of challenges: lack of energy, lack of sleep, chronic pain being the most prevalent. These things can change who you are and how you approach life. What once was a simple task, such as getting out of bed in the morning, can now be a daily struggle.
In the years since my diagnosis, my biggest challenge has been SLOWING DOWN. I have had difficulty accepting that I cannot do what I once could. I am not the same person I once was. Type A personalities, like myself, prefer to be in the game rather than sitting on the sidelines.
Adopting health strategies such as a clean diet, regular workouts, and supplements, has helped lessen the daily pain and limited my “flares” of my fibromyalgia. It has allowed me to maintain a moderately active lifestyle. And then I begin to think: Maybe I am OK. Maybe I am in some sort of remission. Maybe I can push myself just a little harder. And that thinking usually ends in a crash and burn, i.e. fibro flare and bed rest. Slowing down, resting allows the body to recover from the stresses put upon it. Without a recovery period, we can do our bodies more harm than good.
I came to these realizations a few years ago when I was in a bad fibro flare:
- I am no longer Superwoman/Supermom
- I can’t do everything
- The things I do manage to do are far from perfect
Those realizations are acceptance of my imperfections and permission to say no. But they don’t incorporate any actions or strategies. Slowing Down means…
- Listening to your body, and giving it the time it needs to heal and recover.
- Practicing self care/self love. There’s all kinds of terms for it, but just remember that putting yourself first isn’t being selfish, it’s self-preservation.
- Focusing on what’s significant: life, health, joy.
“We would do well to slow down a little…focus on the significant…and truly see the things that matter most.” ~Dieter F. Uchtdorf
My Crash and Burn
I recognize this as my biggest challenge because once again I didn’t heed the advice of that little voice inside my head. I knew a week ago I was teetering on the brink of trouble when I woke up with a hoarse voice. Determined to stick to my 30 Day Challenge AND meet the demands of my work week, I pushed on.
Then I tweaked my back. While I still managed to do some gentle yoga specifically for my back in the mornings, I spent two evenings icing my back after work.
Come mid-week my back had recovered, but my voice was a whisper and my throat was on fire. Diagnosis: strep throat and inflamed vocal chords. I was given doctors orders rest my voice. Go home, don’t talk, slow down and rest.
At this point I had still been staving off full-blown fibro flare, but silly me decided to go into the office Friday morning to work half a day. By mid-morning I knew was in trouble. I had pushed myself, again. I felt the wave of exhaustion and pain take over my body. I made it home and went directly into bed.
Here I sit Sunday morning writing this, and I still have no energy whatsoever. My body is still in full-on rebellion mode, as in “I feel like I’ve been run over by a Mack truck,” despite having spent the better part of the last 3 days in bed, taking antibiotics and Advil.
If I had only listened to that little voice inside my head: Better to slow down and rest before you need it.
There will always be chores to do at home and work to do at the office. I don’t think I will ever look back and say “I wish I had worked more,” whereas there’s a good chance I may look back and say “I wish I had visited…” or “I wish I had done…” if I don’t take time to develop a better work-life balance, and pencil in me time. Vitamin R!
We are given one voice, one body, and (as it is Earth Day) one Earth to live upon. We should all do whatever is in our power to protect those things, to slow down and enjoy life. Less doing, more being.
So in the midst of my “30 Day Challenge to a Better, Stronger Me” I am faced with a different challenge. Slowing down. Allowing my body to rest and heal. Extending myself the grace to say it’s OK to miss a few days of yoga, and take up where I left off in a few days. No one is judging me. It’s not a competition. Life is a marathon, not a sprint and I am in this for the long haul.
It takes strength and courage to give yourself permission. Remember, you can’t do everything.
“Tea time is a chance to slow down, pull back, and appreciate our surroundings.” ~Letitia Baldrige
So here’s what I have been doing the last few days to slow down and heal:
- Drink lots of lemon tea with honey – Both lemon and honey have anti-bacterial and healing properties, and soothe an aching throat.
- Make smoothies and smoothie bowls to boost my immune system – Full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, flavonoids, fiber, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. (Read my last post with my Blueberry Smoothie Bowl recipe here.)
- Extra Vitamin C – Chewables and Emergen-C.
- Gargle with salt water – This reduces swelling, relieves pain, and flushes out bacteria.
- Rest in bed with a heating pad or ice pack and watch Netflix, read, or sleep. I have made it through all of my shows on the DVR, another season of Frasier, and caught up on my magazine reading.
- Ask for help – On Husband Appreciation Day, my husband went grocery shopping, washed our sheets, and fixed my meals. I couldn’t do this without him. ❤
- Eat Chicken Soup – Last weekend I had made a huge batch of Paleo Chicken Vegetable soup, so I have been enjoying that all week. It’s full of vitamins and fiber, and the warm soup helps soothe my throat.
- Restorative Yoga – Practice some gentle restorative yoga poses for my back, but allowing myself a few days off to recover some strength.
- Epsom Salt Baths – Hot epsom salt baths to help soothe my achy muscles with 2 drops Eucalyptus essential oil to help cleanse my body of toxins and harmful microorganisms and 2 drops lemongrass oil to help alleviate pain and restore my energy. Or if you’re having trouble sleeping, add a few drops of lavender instead.
All You Need
Self care. Self love. Slowing Down. Enjoying life. We should all strive for that balance. We should listen to our inner voices.
So make yourself a cup of tea, slow down, and appreciate all the beauty this earth has to offer us.
“All you need is one person who loves you.” ~Viola Davis
Today that person is me.
What are your challenges that you are facing, and conquering? How do you slow down and practice self-love and self-care?