Friday, March 29, 2013

Allow Yourself To Take Care Of You

Allow Yourself To Take Care Of You

As soon as I woke up today, I knew it was going to be a day where I decided to take a break from life’s duties.  Around noon, I started to feel a little guilty and my shame button was triggered.  “If I sit down and rest, I’m being lazy” said my negative self-talk.
put your feet up
I took a look at my activities over the past week, packed with work, appointments and other commitments.  As I neared the end of the week, I could feel the life being sucked out of me.  I was struggling to keep my symptoms tame.
Sometimes I feel like I just don’t have any fight left in me, but I still have a hard time resting.  I think this is partly due to my personality (I’m much more like the hare than the tortoise), and partly due to our over-achiever syndrome culture here in America.  The How to Cope with Pain article Making Positive Psychological Changes talks about acceptance and how it can mean no longer struggling with the pain.  I’ve come to a point in my journey where I do accept my pain (most days) and today was a good example of this.  I realized that a) I’m exhausted, and b) I have an increase in symptoms.  So, I’m not being lazy!  In fact I’m doing something good!  I’m resting and using some tools to manage my symptoms of chronic pain.
But how did I get to this point?  Here are a couple things I do to make sure I stop and insert the rest that I need, when I need it:
1.  Stop Sign!
When I start to get down on myself for fear of being “lazy”, I need to just STOP.  Stop my thoughts (those squirrels and monkeys in my head) and be where my hands are.
2.  What do I need?
A good question to ask ourselves!  What is it that I need at this very moment?  It could be some or all of the following:  rest, stretching, food (the healthy kind of course), movie, friend, nap, good cry, nature, or connection with a Higher Power.
3.  Satisfy the need
Now that we’ve determined what it is that we need, let’s engage and get our needs met in a healthy and effective manner.  For instance, what my body needed today was rest, relaxation, healthy/nourishing food, and some restorative yoga.
4.  Be gentle
This is not a “No Pain, No Gain” situation.  We need to give ourselves grace and forgiveness.  The concept of self-love also falls under this.  Many of us with chronic pain can easily keep pushing ourselves when we should not.  We do this even though we know it can possibly increase our pain into a flare-up.  It’s okay to take a break when we need one, so give yourself permission to do so!  Take care of you!
Are there days when you feel like you’re being lazy even though you know deep down that resting is the right thing to do?  How do you overcome the feeling of guilt?  How do you allow yourself to take time to take care of yourself?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!
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