When facing chronic illness, there are often periods of times where symptoms are exacerbated. This is referred to as a “flare.” Flares can be brought on by things like stress, weather shifts, new medications, medical procedures, overexertion, and well, sometimes they just happen. As you can see, or may know firsthand, flares are not always in one’s control. Here’s some tips that help me remember I’m a person, not my diseases, during these rough times.
1. I write in my journal. Recently, I ordered a journal from amazon called “Burn After Writing.” It is meant to be a self exploration journal, for your eyes only. I love this journal however any type of writing generally helps me. I bring up this journal because it encourages deep honesty with oneself and I find that helps distract me from my symptoms as well as remember who I am outside of illness. Here’s the link if you’d like to try this journal too! https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0399175210?psc=1&ref=ppx_pop_mob_b_asin_image
2. I rest as needed. How does this help me remember who I am? It doesn’t necessarily help me in that sense but it grants me the strength to do things that enable me to collect myself. Any chronically ill person knows the importance of resting when your body calls for it. As previously mentioned, overexertion can be detrimental to our health and worsen flares or prolong them.
3. Have a good ol’ movie day or Netflix binge. I LOVE Dinsey+. It fulfills my millennial nostalgic needs while keeping me out of my own head. Distraction with a low impact activity are wonderful tools. We may not be able to forget out pain, but I’ve personally found fixating on it only worsens mine.
4. If you can, do some light stretching or physical activity. Some people find reprieve from their symptoms via activity. Not everyone does. Do what feels okay for your body and ensure to speak with your doctor before beginning any new exercises. Stretching enables me to loosen up some tension and it helps me feel proactive in caring for my health. It can offer a mental and physical release, particularly when stressed. I utilize the Daily Workout App. You can select 5, 8, or 10 minute routines. I paid a one time fee for this app, but you can get it free and there’s a yoga edition as well if that’s more your style.
5. Art therapy. I already mentioned some benefits to journaling, but I also love to paint. Art therapy can be whatever you want it to be. I’m more fond of painting over drawing because the gentle strokes are easier on my hands. Both are great tools however. You don’t need to be a professional artist to enjoy producing art. If you’re a perfectionist like myself, coloring books are a fun option too! There’s coloring books specifically for adults that are more complex than your average children’s coloring book. I won’t lie to you, I use both. Sometimes the complexity of the adult books is daunting to me, so I then color an easier picture. Whatever works, right?
I know it can be extremely difficult to separate your identity from your illness. It is a part of you, afterall, and impacts basically every facet of your life. Unfortunately, many people who don’t endure the sick life are unable to grasp this. I try my best to be grateful they remain unaware as I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It’s important to do things that help bring out your sense of self so you aren’t utterly consumed by pain and illness.
What are some tips you would like to add?
As always, thanks for reading!