When I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia I bought the book “Let that Sh*t Go” – written by Nina Purewal and Kate Petriw. This book has been an eye opener and has helped me look at life differently. In one of the chapters they write about how self love is selfless. The chapter begins by having you imagine that you just woke up and so many thoughts begin to flow – listing off everything you need to do that today. Instead of getting ready and jumping right into that to do list, what if you started your day off with something you absolutely enjoy like reading a book for 30 minutes before begin that long list of yours?!! How do you think the rest of your day would pan out!?!
I decided to put it to the test to see if it really made a difference. Instead of worrying about housework, what I would cook for supper, ect – or in my case what wouldn’t get done due to high pain levels and fatigue, I allowed myself to watch an episode of a favorite tv show, listened to music or a couple chapters of my audiobook. I found taking time to start my day this way made a huge difference. I was able to handle most high pain days a little better. Not everyday, but most. Being on disability, my schedule allowed me to be able to do this. I know lots of you reading this may not have the opportunity to do something just for yourself first thing in the morning, but what about a few small things throughout the day? Even calling your best friend for 5 minutes can be considered self care or take a minute to take a deep breathe in and out. The authors of this book, explain the purpose of starting your day by doing a self care activity, is so that you don’t start your day overwhelmed and anxious. Instead of trying to pour from an empty cup, you start your day with a full cup. For those of you who have not heard this saying, it basically means you can’t take care of others ( or in this case your to do list) unless you first take care of yourself!
I believe the saying is true to its words. How can you go to work and be productive, care for your family, coach hockey, be supportive to friends ect. if you are running on empty all of the time?!? The answer is you can’t – or at least not effectively. Not taking time for self care actually has many negative effects. We will notice that when we get run down, and don’t stop to take a break, we often get sick more often. When we don’t slow down, we feel overwhelmed, exhausted and anxious when things don’t go our way. At least I do. Being stressed can create tense muscles and headaches to form. For people with fibromyalgia, adding tense muscles from stress is not going to help our pain levels, but will result with increased pain.
Self care is a very important aspect in anyone’s life , but for those who have a chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia, it becomes necessary for survival. Life gets so hectic that many people forget to incorporates self care routines into their lives. Making time for selfcare has proven to be beneficially. Self care helps reduce or eliminate stress, anxiety and depression. It can also increase your mental health and self esteem, along with improving your physical health. These are just a few benefits to practicing self care. There are many other benefits.
Taking some time for yourself, will help you be in a “happy zone” which then tends to have a trickle down effect. Ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong? One incident after the other seems to take place? Now imagine yourself starting that day over, but starting it by doing a self care activity first. You begin your day with your cup full. The result will most likely be that you will handle your day completely different. The coffee you spilled all over your meeting notes in your office may not seem like such a big deal. Your child missing the bus home may not throw you over the edge. Why? because you took the time to start your day by taking care of yourself!