Hello dear friends!
There is a ton of advice out there on how to heal yourself, take care of yourself, and lead a more fulfilling life. But the truth is, most of that advice is meant to be applied over the long term, and the positive effects aren’t usually seen right away. Things like eating a low-sugar, allergen-free diet, choosing a job that is low-stress, and spending more time with your loved ones are all wonderful ways to nourish your body and your life, but what happens when you’re feeling like crap and want some relief…right now?
Especially for those of us with chronic illnesses, we can take really good care of ourselves over the long term, but we still end up having bad days. Sometimes the pain flares up or the fatigue suddenly becomes crushing. And the usual healthy habits that we’ve established can’t do much in the moment. I personally think it’s really handy to have a handful of things we can do to feel better- things that are simple, accessible, low-cost, and don’t require a lot of time. Consider these things as part of your emergency toolkit, and start getting in the groove of trying them before you head for more drastic measures.
It’s really important to have things that we can do all by ourselves and on our own time; being self-reliant is crucial to mental and emotional health, especially when you’re ill or in recovery. The more things you can do to relieve your symptoms, reduce your stress, and change your mindset, the better off you’ll be. And as you practice these things, you’ll be better prepared for the inevitable bumps in the road you’ll encounter. So the next time you’re feeling a flare coming on, or just can’t figure out why you can’t get it together, give one of these ideas a try!
1. Drink a big glass of fresh water
Many chronic illnesses share symptoms with dehydration: headaches, fatigue, brain fog, food cravings (especially carbs/sweets), achy muscles and joints, and dizziness. Most of us are some degree of dehydrated all the time, especially since we tend to sip things like coffee, tea, energy drinks, and soda, and our bodies might be trying to ask us for water. Downing a nice glass of cool, filtered water is a great way to wake up a bit, encourage better digestion, and dampen our pain.
2. Change your clothes
When you’re really feeling sick and are housebound (or bedbound) for more than a few days, it’s hard to prioritize even the most simple of hygienic practices. I know I’m not the only one who has spend several days in a row wearing the same pair of sweatpants and t-shirt. Changing into a fresh, clean set of clothes can actually feel pretty darn good, both physically and mentally. Doing something this simple can help you feel less grungy and sick, and a bit more alive!
3. Eat some fat
Often when we’re feeling crappy, we reach for easy snacks to kill the boredom or fulfill a craving. But these are usually highly processed, high-sugar, low-fat items that will end up making us feel worse only minutes later after the initial high wears off. Good quality fats are the key to brain health, hormonal health, and feeling more stable and satiated. Grab a handful of macadamia nuts, a spoonful of coconut oil, or a packet of almond butter instead of those crackers, cookies, or ice cream.
4. Listen to a good song
Music has an incredible ability to change our moods and shift our perspective, even if it’s just for a few minutes. I am such a big believer in this that I have an entire “happy” playlist on my phone, ready to go whenever I need it. If you’re dragging at work, or you’ve been binge-watching Netflix all day in your dirty pajamas, take a break and put on your headphones. Pick a few songs that have uplifting beats or positive messages that make you smile or want to shake that booty!
5. Go outside
In my opinion, we are all chronically deprived of fresh air and sunshine, and that can become drastic when we are sick and shut indoors for hours on end. Trust me, as someone who is both chronically ill and self-employed, I can attest to the tendency to hole up inside for days, but I can also attest to the healing power of just going outside for a few minutes. You can sit in a comfy chair and make some vitamin D, or wander around the yard, or simply take a few big breaths of cool crisp air. I promise it’ll be worth getting off the couch for.
6. Have a quick stretch
Our bodies are not meant to stay stuck in the same position for hours and hours, but sometimes we simply don’t have the energy or the ability to exercise. So just take a few moments away from what you were doing and stretch! Swing your arms in circles to open the shoulders, rotate your hips and ribcage to encourage blood flow, and let your head relax in each direction to de-crunchify your neck. Do whatever intuitively feels good to your body, and try to take a stretch break every hour or so.
7. Clear the clutter
If you have the energy, I highly recommend taking 5 minutes to de-clutter your immediate surroundings. We already talked about how a minimalist environment is easier on your brain and can encourage a more healing mindset, so take advantage of this principle whenever you’re feeling frazzled, depressed, or otherwise under the weather. Clear the coffee table of used cups and tissues, sort through the pile of mail, and take care of dishes, Amazon boxes, and whatever else is cluttering up your area.
Of course, these ideas are not meant to take the place of your usual self-care routines of healthy food, good sleep, medications, or health care. But instead these handy tips can be deployed in a moment’s notice for those bad days when you can’t seem to get anything done or you’re in a horrible mood.
Next time you’re feeling down, try one or more of these ideas, and let me know how it goes!
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~