For the past 2 days, a lot of my friends have been writing and posting on Facebook about self-care. These last 2 days have been incredibly stressful for many of us. We’re scared, we’re uncertain, we’re worried. And that’s precisely why we need to take care of ourselves. All of us.
But when you have a chronic illness, self-care takes on different dimensions. And in some ways, I think it makes things easier for me, because I already know what to do.
When I was first diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, the doctor told me to avoid stress. I laughed. Oh wait, was he serious?
Over the years, though, I’ve learned how to do it. It’s not that I completely avoid stress, but I manage it better. I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff as much. When I do feel stress, I know what will calm me. I address issues head-on so they don’t nag at me. I take deep breaths. I distract myself. I put things in perspective. And generally, it works.
I also know what to do when it comes to physical self-care. I know that I need a lot of sleep and that I need to eat certain foods while avoiding others. I know that I might need to take extra supplements or raise the dose of a medication. I know how to rest while awake.
It turns out, I know a lot more than I thought I did! And I bet you do, too.
This week is more stressful for some people than for others. But we all experience stress from time to time, so it’s important to learn how to read our bodies and to figure out what will work to counteract that stress.
I am watching my friends cry, hug, and attend vigils. I did the first two. I can’t do the last. The vigils would help me emotionally for sure, but not physically. And on balance, it’s better to skip them, even though I’d really rather attend.
Last night when I found myself crying alone in my apartment, I texted a bunch of friends until I found someone who could talk. We had a long chat on the phone and in the end, I felt much better. Today I visited with another friend and got great conversation and a few good hugs. I don’t usually hug people during flu season but again, on balance, it was worth it.
We all need to find our balance.
I want to believe everything will be ok, but I know it won’t. As a queer person, I see difficult times ahead on many levels. As a Jew, I see anti-semitism increasing already. As a woman, I worry about an increased risk of sexual assaults, not to mention further legislation that affects my body. And as a chronically ill disabled person, I worry about losing my health insurance and my disability benefits. As a person, I worry about the future of our country and the hatred that this election has bred. Among so many other things.
So that is why I am about to step away from my computer, put on a happy, silly movie, and knit. Because for me, that’s the perfect form of self-care.
How are you taking care of yourself? What works for you to handle stress? Please comment and share!
As a final note, I want to say that I’m not looking to start a political debate about how the election turned out. This is about handling feelings and stress. That’s all. Hateful comments will be deleted, because that’s part of self-care, too.