Sometimes we all just feel ugh, whether we have a chronic illness or not. Here I look at the ways in which I am growing more mindful on these not so great days.
I’ve been doing really well recently, but I still have my off days. I am definitely recovering more quickly from these blips, but on my really bad days I sometimes feel like I could just stay in bed all day and do nothing but binge watch YouTube. Usually these days happen around my period now, which is frustrating on the one hand but positive in that they aren’t directly caused by an illness.
On these days when the urge is to stay in bed, eat my weight in carbohydrates and watch mindless TV, I try to be mindful.
Luckily today is a weekend as getting to work can be really difficult when you’re having a day like this (the last first day of my period I fainted at work and ended up going home after about two hours in the office). For those days when I’m at work I try my best to get there and just make sure that I drink plenty of water, eat extra food particularly food which is rich in good fats as my body tends to crave fatty foods when I’m like this. I’m very lucky to have a flexible employer who allows me to work from home and so if today was tomorrow that’s probably what I’d be doing, but I’m really hoping one day of self-care and rest and I’ll be back to work tomorrow.
So far this morning I have rested. I’ve had a long hot bath which helped ease the cramps but did make me dizzy (low BP is definitely worse after a bath). After that I lay in bed watching YouTube videos that I feel inspired by and avoided getting pulled into the sort of social media posts and videos that can cause me to feel anxious. I particularly enjoy Allegra Shaw’s videos which are fashion and lifestyle focused, they are aspirational without being intimidating and I find her very relatable. I also watched Jameela Jamil’s interview with Channel 4 on sexism and body image in the media which was extremely inspiring and made me feel as though I wasn’t ‘wasting’ my weekend – not that rest and relaxation is a waste of time!
I’ve eaten lunch which was mainly vegetables and some gluten free Yorkshire puddings. It was definitely a smaller meal than normal, but I managed to eat it all and feel better for that and some pain killers.
Now it’s 14:00 and I want to do something with my day, but I want to make sure I’m getting as much rest as possible so that I get to work tomorrow and have a really productive week.
So there are three things I want to achieve today:
- practice yoga for ten minutes
- go for a walk with the dog
- read for an hour
Writing would be on this list normally, but I didn’t sleep last night and ended up writing 1000 words at about 3am, I’ll be reading over those words to make sure they’re not terrible and if I end up writing, great and if not I’m not going to beat myself up about it.
For anyone wondering where to start with a self-care practice when you’re feeling unwell here are my five favourite places to start that are really easy:
Make the Bed
A small task, but one that will help you move away from that sleepy feeling and it will make you less likely to climb back into bed throughout the day. Freshening up your room, neatening your bed, opening the windows might seem like small things on a good day but when you’re feeling unwell they’re really important.
Take some mindful breaths
Meditation is a really powerful tool for when we are feeling pain, unease or fatigue. You don’t have to master sitting in silence for ten or fifteen minutes, even just taking a moment to take three long, deep, mindful breaths will help calm thoughts running away with themselves and help you ease tension in your muscles which could be worsening any pain. Introduce essential oils such as lavender to make this even more relaxing.
If you would like to try meditation, Yoga With Adrien’s Meditation for Anxiety is an amazing place to start as it is fully guided with breath work.
Read a page or even a chapter
Sometimes it can feel too tiring to even read and we end up watching television or YouTube because it is easier to do. Fair enough if you are so tired you can’t read, those days happen (you could try an audiobook or podcast as an alternative to reading). But if it’s possible to read a page, a section, a chapter, it could be a way to distract yourself from anxious thoughts and any symptoms. Plus you’ll feel as though you have still achieved something with your time today.
My favourite books for summer escapism this year can be found here.
Go outside for a while
Even just going into your garden or for a walk along your street will help reset your mind and body. Sometimes we’re not well enough to get out the house so opening a window wide to feel fresh air on your skin can be a way to calm your mind and freshen up.
A stuffy room will make you feel even more lethargic so getting outside for a stretch of the legs is a good idea. Also, it will make returning to normality/work/exercise in the coming days far easier if you haven’t had to come to a complete stop on your off day.
Take an epsom salt bath
My favourite bath for aching muscles and a tired mind is Epsom salts and lavender bath foam from L’Occitane. The smell is soothing and the Epsom salts do seem to help relax sore muscles. I will often have a bath after yoga or long walk or just to unwind after a day at work. When you’re unwell it can be a good idea to make sure there is someone else in the house and not lock the bathroom door just in case you feel dizzy or faint after a bath.
I hope some of these tips and tricks are helpful. Even if you do spend the day in bed remember that tomorrow can be a better day and that every day is valuable, even if it is a day of resting. Even listening to a favourite song or looking out at the sky can add something to your day. Just a few breaths and you can feel more centred.
I hope today is a good one for you.