HAWMC Day 12: When in Need of Self-Care…

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Welcome to the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge brought together by WEGO Health – a social network for all health activists.  Again, I am participating in the annual Writer’s Month Challenge in which I will be writing about my health activism and health condition based upon given prompts.

Sunday 12th April: Day of Rest

Kick your feet up!  What is your ideal day in?  When you’re having a bad day, or a long week – how do you relax, recharge, and reset yourself?

Self-care can be defined as the process of maintaining health and managing chronic illness through health promoting practices and self-management.  It could also be defined as coping strategies during relapses or flares of symptoms.  Self-management are behaviours that are performed in response to signs and symptoms of illness.

When living with a chronic illness, therefore it is important to embed self-care and self-management practices into one’s routine.  Perhaps one important aspect of self-care is having a day of rest on days in which symptoms are particularly bad, or even days following a relapse to allow the body rest and recuperation, and a chance to regain depleted energy levels.

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Recently, the symptoms associated with my neurological condition such as pain, dizziness and the trembling and weakness in the legs have been debilitating; often finding they become worse days after trips out with my carer.  As a result, I have been in need of days of rest myself, so this post should come easy!

These are some of my top tips for activities to put into place on those bad days, or just for when you need to relax, recharge or recuperate from life with chronic illness:

  • Date with Netflix (other streaming service are available!) or DVD: When I am having a bad day, or in need of a quiet or relaxing day, then watching a film is one of my favourite ways to spend my time, especially for someone who is somewhat of a film buff.  In particularly I love romantic dramas or even a good romantic  comedy.  Nicholas Sparks adaptations, such as Safe Haven, The Best of Me and The Notebook are amongst my favourite films to watch when having a bad day.  Or, the need of a quiet and relaxing day is a perfect opportunity to discover new films to enjoy20150411_183711
  • Art Therapy: The pain that I experience in my legs has been really bad of late.  So bad that it is hard to concentrate or think about anything else.  A while back, however I remembered an article that I read that discussed the new craze and resurgence of colouring books for adults.  In the article it suggested that the art of colouring-in is very beneficial for relaxing and beating stress and anxiety.  Colouring allows a person to concentrate and escape from their thoughts and daily life in a similar way that mindfulness does.  At the same time, I seen advertising for a new magazine called Art Therapy, which has pages of different patterns and designs for users to colour-in, also including pages dedicated to insights  regarding to mindfulness and relaxation.  Basically the magazine allows for quality time with yourself.  I subscribed almost straight away and after receiving the first issue, I have been colouring during my days of rest and has found it has been a great technique to distract myself from the pain.  It’s also really fun!20150404_182614
  • Pampering!: Nothing like a bit of pampering to relax and give yourself some self-love.  If I am feeling down or had a bad week, then I love nothing better than to use one of my luxurious nail kits and paint my nails.  Whilst Mum and I were in Bath, and my pain was bad, she went into the local Lush store and bought me a Massage Bar which includes an oil which has been shown to increase serotonin levels in the brain.  A great way to give yourself a little pampering and lift your mood at the same time!20140920_165005
  • Create a happy and relaxing playlist: Music has been shown to have a positive effect on mood and well-being.  And I love music and have songs on my iPod that triggers a special memory or instantly makes me smile.  So, why not create a playlist of happy and uplifting songs to put on your MP3 player for when you need a pick me-up, or relaxing and chilled music for the times you need to unwind and recharge.
  • Create a Comfort Box: I have written about the concept of a comfort box in previous posts.  But simply, a comfort box is a box that you can fill with things that brings you comfort, joy and relaxation.  Ideas to put in a comfort box include craft kits, pictures of happy times, favourite books, films or television boxsets.  Other examples include scented candles, favourite snacks or even a journal.  The comfort box can even be placed under or near your bed so that it can even be of use when stuck in bed due to chronic illness.

    Inside view of Comfort Box
    Example of a Comfort Box
  • Spend time stroking your pet: Take time stroking a pet (if you have one) as research has found that doing so can lower your blood pressure, helps the body release a relaxation hormone, and even helps cut down levels of a stress hormone.  And it has beneficial effects for the animal too!
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