In times when chronic health challenges seem to intensify, such as when you get a virus on top of IBS, allergies, sensitivities, fatigue, muscle weakness, mental fog, depleted humor, dull hair, and random unexplainable or explainable pains, you linger in Depth mode with depression and addiction spectrum symptoms. Craving chocolate at one o’clock? Awake through the night with aches and pains? Can’t remember if you showered? Can’t wait to binge watch Grimm/Criminal Minds/classic MacGyver?
Sometimes when we are low in energy and strength its a temptation to feed the beast. In other words we eat what is easy instead of nourishing. We watch television narcotically–or at least I do. Feed the beast also includes wearing athletic wear with no hope of doing more than going up and down the stairs but to your family its an improvement from pajamas…during the day. How do you thrive?
- Set a time to put your best (clean) athletic wear on such as by 9am. Set the earliest time to put your pj’s on such as 7pm– because lets face it 5 o’clock is too early and you may need to answer the door!
- Eat the superfood smoothie and bone broth before the ice cream bars or potato chips. Try not to buy the potato chips. Have dark chocolate and figs or other dried fruit on hand to snack on for your cravings. Drink lots of warm herbal tea.
- Learn to not guilt yourself over your weaknesses.
- Allow for naps!
- Allow yourself to feel the pain without trying to eat, watch, or dose it away. Pain awareness is a great teacher I run from too often and then I feel worse so I might as well face it, feel it, and free it.
- Read. This is a great time to catch up on reading whether that’s audio books, e-books, or hard copies. Reality reading is always productive–you are doing something– and reading can help your brain in processing experiences.
When you start to feel physically better you may find your dull mind and binge worlds are taking over your schedule. How do you rise from the funk slump?
- Treat yourself with love and kindness! I usually scream in my head to get my lazy you-know-what up and move it–which creates anxiety and shame, which weighs me down, which halts productivity. I recover better when I say kind words to myself and focus on at least one strength.
- Practice patience by allowing yourself to skip connecting with others for most of the day. Introspection and mindfulness around the facts can be helpful. “This hurts. Such and such is comfortable.” Evaluate your sensations and feelings with: pain, comfort, discomfort, tension, and relaxed instead of good or bad.
- Write down or talk to someone close to you about what is going well, what you are grateful for, or your blessings each day. Focusing on the positives (even if its staying awake while making lunch) can help your brain to seek out more positive experiences and to see your present situation in a different perspective.
- Avoid time limits for recovery. Sometimes you know it usually takes two weeks or three days after an illness but you may be dealing with autoimmune symptoms that require additional time to retain resources that were diverted to fighting the virus.
Sometimes I feel like I lose months of my life that I’ll never get back and then I look back at the accomplishments of my indisposition: 4 magazines and 30 articles read, 3 books read, over 7 seasons of various shows viewed–taking particular note of their emotional arc and story devices (since I’m a writer this is research), over 40 hours of introspection and epiphanies, and a reserve of compassion and empathy.
May you thrive as you experience the sensations of pain and illness. Remember you are always loved regardless of your experiences.