A quick scroll through your social media feed and you’re destined to stumble upon some influencer discussing why self-care matters. The majority of these posts have one thing in common. That is the fact that the person is usually soaking in a jacuzzi tub in a gorgeous locale while covered in a face mask. My problem with this depiction of self-care is that it promotes the idea that self-care is all about pampering, and luxury. That if you want to properly take care of yourself you must schedule a vacation to Bali with 5 of your best friends drink green smoothies, spend all day in the spa and sip champagne. While that does sound like a nice little getaway self-care is so much more than this.
Especially if you are working to manage a chronic illness day in and day out. On average roughly 133 million Americans are diagnosed with a chronic illness. That’s about 40% of this country’s population.(1) This means that there is a large group of people that are dealing with symptoms such as chronic fatigue, chronic pain, inflammation, digestive distress, and flare-ups. Just to name a few of the key issues many chronic illness warriors face on a daily basis.
This is why redefining self-care for chronic illness suffers is important. Learning how to practice simple, easy to execute self-care habits on a daily basis can help with managing chronic illness.
5 Ways to Practice Self-Care
What exactly is self-care? In a nutshell, self-care is the act of taking care of oneself. Contrary to the gorgeous Instagram pictures the act of self-care can manifest itself in a variety of actions. Spending time brushing your teeth in the morning and in the evening is self-care. Washing your hair, taking a shower, washing your hands before you eat. All of these simple daily activities are all about self-care. Now let’s talk specifically about some essential self-care habits that are super important for those that have a chronic illness and are wanting to better manage their symptoms.
Manage Your Chronic Condition
Whatever symptoms you experience with your specific chronic condition taking the time to properly manage them is important. Whether this is through lifestyle modifications, diet, exercise, or holistic therapies. Making the time to treat and address your condition will help you with decreasing flare-ups and symptoms. While also improving quality of life. Two ways you can manage your chronic condition are to:
- Get Regular Check-ups
Having regular doctor visits where your blood work and other important health metrics are analyzed can provide vital feedback. You can learn if additional changes need to be made, or if you’re on the right track.
- Keep A Wellness Journal
Having a journal where you regularly log and track symptoms is a perfect companion for doctor’s appointments or when explaining your chronic illness to loved ones. It’s also a great place to store vital health information such as blood pressure, blood sugar, list of current prescriptions, flare-ups, etc.
Nourish Your Body
Following a well-balanced diet that contains whole minimally processed foods will feed your body with essential nutrients. Antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, adaptogens, phytonutrients, and probiotic-rich foods are your friends. They help to rebuild the body’s immune system, decrease inflammation, and protect you from oxidative stress. Working with your doctor to find a nutrition plan that works best for your unique chronic condition can help with managing pain, and decreasing symptoms.
Also, looking into different supplements can work to help protect you from nutrient deficiencies. Work with your doctor to find supplements that are ok for you to take. Make sure you understand the proper dosage and amount you should aim for on a daily basis so you don’t overdo it.
Practice Healthy Skin Habits
The skin is one of the first places that show an underlying problem or issue with health. Hormonal imbalances and inflammation within the body can impact how your skin looks and feels. In addition to nourishing your body with the foods, you consume taking care of your skin on a daily basis can also help to decrease these issues. Implement a balanced skin care program with products that address your specific and unique concerns. If you’re struggling with acne, or hyperpigmentation finding products that address these specific concerns can be helpful. With dry or sensitive skin being careful to avoid irritating products and instead opt for gentle cleansers, exfoliators, and treatments.
Cleansing, hydrating, and protecting your skin should be basic behaviors you practice on a daily basis.
Move Your Body
Gentle exercise is another beneficial activity that can help with decreasing pain, and managing symptoms. Finding the type of exercise that is ok for you to commit to without aggravating your symptoms is key. Aim to create and follow short workout sessions that won’t completely drain you of all your energy. 30-45 minutes on days when you aren’t dealing with a flare-up and perhaps 15-20 minutes when you are in the midst of a flare-up. Of course, the length of exercise, as well as the type is going to depend on what you can do and what your level of tolerance is.
Good forms of gentle exercise include:
- Light Resistance Weight Training
- Bodyweight Workouts
Choose what works best for you, go at your own pace and stick to it.
Protect Your Energy
Your energy is precious. Fatigue is always a struggle with chronic illness. Learning how to manage your energy and not put too much on your plate can be one of the most challenging things you do for yourself. Take time to plan and schedule your week. This can help to decrease anxiety and give you more control of your time and prevent you from overcommitting yourself. When scheduling and planning your week make sure to include downtimes at regular intervals. When you feel that you are becoming too frazzled or your week is looking too hectic it’s time to start scaling back.
Also, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. Sleep can be difficult when dealing with chronic pain that becomes an issue at night. Discuss with your doctor if there are medications that can help with decreasing pain while also helping you sleep at night. Try natural remedies such as chamomile tea, or melatonin. Avoid overstimulation in the evenings and opt to not watch shows, or engage on social media 30 minutes to an hour before bed. Practice deep breathing and listen to relaxing music. Set the mood for a relaxing night of deep sleep.
These are some pretty basic ways you can begin implementing self-care into your daily routine. It’s important to remember that it’s ok to not always be ok. Sometimes you’re not always going to have a great day or a great week. Take it one step at a time day by day. Stick to the basics and remember you’re a warrior.
About the Author
Hi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I am an Esthetician, Lifestyle Wellness Coach, and Writer. My intention is to provide you with education and awareness about women’s health, nutrition, fitness, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. I primarily help women that are seeking holistic and natural solutions to managing their chronic condition, improving their lifestyle and combating anti-aging concerns. I offer coaching programs and courses that are designed to help you redefine your health and defy aging. You can find my content on a variety of social media platforms such as YouTube,Facebook, and Instagram.
If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!