No matter how well we take care of ourselves, unfortunately there are times when we still get sick and experience a flare-up, an allergic reaction, or some type of illness. Or maybe you’ve come down with an infection or you’re dealing with a chronic disease. Whether you’re experiencing an acute or chronic illness (or both), it can be devastating and hard to cope. Not only do you have to deal with the pain, fatigue, and other physical symptoms, but you also have emotional symptoms like anger or depression.
This happened to me recently and I think it was a combination of unknowingly ingesting something that made me sick as well as dealing with a lot more stress and travel than usual. On came the horrible fatigue, joint pain, brain fog, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, feeling terribly run down, and other issues that I know some of you experience as well. I wanted to share some tips that have worked for me and I’d love to hear what has worked for you. Let’s learn from each other and make it a little easier on ourselves next time we’re not feeling well. Regardless of what type of health issue, these tips can be helpful!
As we head into flu and cold season, keep these in your wellness toolbox to have in case you feel something coming on. They’re also great tips for general wellness!
– Rest – Rest and recovery are critical. Your body needs sleep to start the healing process and calm the inflammation. Give yourself permission to go to sleep early, sleep late, take naps, or just veg out on the couch. Say no to things that you don’t absolutely have to do and just relax. This one is hard for me, but definitely the most important.
– Treat Your Pain – Don’t let yourself suffer if you know of something that may help. If you have medication that you know works for you, take it and take it on schedule! Or, try herbal supplements (ask your doctor to make sure they don’t interact with your medication), acupuncture, osteopathy, essential oils (lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint are my favorite), massage, or reiki, which can all be helpful. Explore the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine for evidence-based information.
– Let It Out – It can feel awfully upsetting to be unexpectedly overcome with a flareup or illness. You feel terrible, are stuck at home, and feel like you’re missing out while others around you are having fun. Maybe you feel like you don’t deserve it or you don’t know why it happened. It’s okay. If you keep these emotions inside, you’ll have a harder time getting over them. Cry, pout, yell, or talk about it to a loved one, friend, or therapist. If you feel like you’re obsessing and getting sucked into a negative spiral, take a few long deep breaths and visualize yourself feeling better. Focus on the good and what you have to be thankful for – gratitude can go a long way.
Journaling, writing yourself a letter, drawing, or other creative outlet helps as well. An emotional release will not only feel good, but will help you to let go and move on to healing and improving. Think: more self-love and less self-judgement. Compassion for yourself, your body, and your spirit is essential.
– Engage in Gentle Physical Touch – Loving, trusted physical touch, if you’re able to tolerate touch, can send those feel-good hormones coursing through your body and make you feel better. Get lots of hugs, cuddles, or anything else that feels good to you. Massage and reflexology can be especially useful – ask a loved one or look up trained massage therapists in your neighborhood.
– Eat What Feels Good To Your Tummy – Eat what comforts you, but try not to binge on bad food. When we feel ill we usually crave fat, salt, carbs, and sweets, however, these can be taxing on our systems while we’re recovering. You want to try your best (I know its hard) to eat nourishing foods that will help you eliminate regularly to assist your body with its detoxing processes. Use food as your medicine and try to eat as many greens, vegetables, and fruits as you can. I increase my intake of green juices (or smoothies if you can tolerate the fiber), mineral broths, water with lemon, cinnamon, coconut oil, organic produce, turmeric, berries, flax, walnuts, ginger, and other anti-inflammatory foods. I stock my freezer with homemade healthy meals, so I can easily eat well when I’m not feeling my best. Note: those with gastrointestinal issues may find that eating as bland as possible (white rice, white bread, etc) is the only thing that can calm gastrointestinal distress, so go with whatever works for you.
– Hydrate – Our bodies need water! All of the systems in our bodies depend on water so you can imagine that they won’t run very smoothly if we’re dehydrated. Sip on water, teas, broths, and juices to hydrate – warm water with lemon is excellent for detoxification. Try Yogi or Traditional Medicinals brands of teas that have special immune support blends.
– Try Some Light Exercise – If you feel well enough, take a slow walk, hike, or bike ride or do a long series of stretching. All of these are low impact and will give you a little bit of energy and get your endorphins pumping.
– Get Outside – Fresh air can do wonders for our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It’s refreshing, calming, and lowers our stress levels. If it’s sunny where you are, what a bonus! Relax in the sun and let your body fill up on vitamin D.
– Experience the Benefits of Mind-Body Medicine – Try meditation, deep breathing, or relaxation exercises (have you tried this one?), guided imagery, biofeedback, yoga, shaking and dancing, journaling, drawing — whatever soothes you.
– Find Support and Connect with Others – Join a support group (even if it’s just online), have a friend over, or hang out with family. Feeling a connection with others fosters our own spirits and helps us feel less alone in what we’re going through. When you feel like you’re on the road to recovery, laughing and being silly with those you care about will keep you feeling stronger and stronger.
All of these tips will reduce inflammation and support your immune system as you recover. Please leave a comment and let me know what works for you. I hope these tips help you get your glow back soon.
5 Ways to Manage Pain Naturally – http://www.dailybitesblog.com/2013/09/27/5-ways-manage-pain-naturally/
How to Survive an Autoimmune Flare – http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2013/08/25/how-to-survive-an-autoimmune-flare/