My Top Ten Best Self-Care Tips For People With Chronic Illness, (And Anyone Else!)

Self-Care.

An important practice for anybody, especially those of us struggling with chronic illness. With Hashimotos specifically, studies have proven the strong correlation between mental health and thyroid health. Basically, if you’re under a heavy amount of stress, chances are, your thyroid is going to start flaring up. This makes being disciplined with your self-care that much more important! In theory, it sounds great, and we all know we should do it, but how great are we at actually putting it into practice?

*crickets*

It’s okay. I understand. In today’s fast paced lifestyle, taking time for ourselves can be incredibly guilting. Think about it. When people ask you how you are, or how you’ve been, what are the first things that pop out of your mouth? Tired? Busy? Hangin in there?

Me too!

It’s the society norm to constantly be overloaded, running from one thing to the next, continually multitasking, etc. When we actually dare to take a moment out of our day to rest or take time for ourselves, sometimes the only things coming to our brain are from the to-do list we wrote that morning.

But it’s SO essential!

So how can we escape the trap of thinking we always need to be busy and overloaded? When we actually achieve taking a moment out of the day for ourselves, how can we avoid the associated guilt that comes with it? How can we possibly take time for ourselves when we can barely complete all the necessary activities of daily life?

Here’s my thoughts.

Everybody has a different work load, lifestyle, and personality. For me, this is what self-care looks like:

Every morning, despite how busy my day is going to be, I like to give myself enough time to get up without being super rushed. I make myself a cup of coffee, go sit by my window, read my Bible, pray, and write. It absolutely sets my day up for success. If I have any lingering anxiety from the day before, or incoming anxiety for the day to come, it’s almost always gone by the time I finish. If I have a busy day, it helps me focus my attention on the things that are most important that day. I love it!

I love to workout. The gym is absolutely my happy place–my “me time.” Whenever I work out, I know I am accomplishing not only something great for my body and mind, but accomplishing the goals I have set for myself within the gym walls. And who doesn’t feel better when they are hitting their goals?

On the flip side, self-care can also mean NOT working out. This has been something I’ve been learning much more recently! Previously in my life, if I missed a workout that day for whatever reason, I was overcome with guilt, like I had missed my goals for that day. I had to retrain my brain from those thoughts when I got really sick this summer. Sometimes, as much as I’d like, my body just isn’t up for it. Sometimes tiredness, body fatigue, muscle soreness, and joint pain force me to sit down, and I have to be OK with that. It doesn’t mean I missed my goals, it just means I know my body well enough to discern whether it will actually be beneficial to work through it all, or make me feel worse and increase my chance of injury.

Eating healthy is a huge part of self-care! When I eat well, my body feels better, and my mind can relax knowing that I’m taking care of myself–that I am accomplishing my goals for that day. Simple as that!

Knowing when to say NO is huge. If you’re like me, and naturally want to help EVERYBODY with any need, or suffer with some FOMO (fear of missing out) then this is something you need to learn! Simply put, you’re not going to be your best for people if your battery is already drained. You can’t pour out of an empty cup! So take a raincheck, and go recharge.

Every so often, I have to go get out in nature and just think, pray, listen, process and feel. It helps me re-center and re-evaluate. Sometimes it’s a hike, sitting in the woods at my parent’s house, visiting the ocean, or walking around the waterfront. It’s amazing the freedom you feel when you disconnect from the noise for a bit. Try it sometime!

These are a few of my common practices.

Down below I listed 10 tips that will help you along in your journey of self-care. Some of these are very practical things you can start implementing immediately, and others are bigger concepts that will take time and practice to develop. It’s always nice to have long term goals and short term goals!

Here are 10 things that will help you practice self-care!

  1. Complete the task you are MOST dreading that day right off the bat. It will help you feel less anxious throughout the day, like you are going downhill instead of up! Then, when it comes time for you to rest, you can do so GUILT free.
  2. Work on being more organized. If you are not a naturally organized person, (like myself), it helps a lot to create, monthly, weekly, and daily to-do lists. I also recommend getting a planner. Being more organized helps to put your stresses down on paper where they are less dangerous, rather than growing to a monstrous size in your head, creating more anxiety and stress than they are worth. When you aren’t stressed, it’s way easier to relax. Science!
  3. Learn to say NO. It feels uncomfortable at first, but turns out to be so empowering.
  4. Don’t feel guilty to say YES to some me time. (Remember, you can’t pour out of an empty cup!)
  5. Try to do something every day to help someone else. Sometimes when we don’t feel good, it can be super easy to focus on ME, ME, ME. When we choose to recognize that there is more to life than OUR life, our perspective switches and our gratitude increases. Also, we should be doing nice things for people anyway.
  6. Be healthy. Do the things you know you should be doing for your body and your mind. Eat right, workout, and get enough sleep. Simple, but formidable!
  7. Cut out distractions. How many times a day do you mindlessly open your phone and wander to one of your social media cites and begin anxiously scrolling, looking to the answer to life’s problems on your Facebook or Instagram wall without even thinking. Did you find it? Didn’t think so. Put it down, and experience what is going on right now in front of you.
  8. Practice discipline. Odd addition to a list about self-care, you may think? Living within the realm of your value system gives you a greater fulfillment in life. It feels good to know you aren’t running through your day out of control, that you are daily doing the things that are important to you, and not doing the things that make your conscience want to go be somebody else’s cricket.
  9. Live in the moment you are in. How many of you struggle with letting your mind be completely present in the present? I know I do. I can be having a conversation with someone and simultaneously be thinking about what workouts I am going to do at the gym that evening, how I need to go Fred Meyer to get more coconut milk, and what I can do to help create world peace. Can I do any of those things in that moment? No, but I can listen and have a genuine connection with that person right NOW, instead of missing the opportunity by worrying what I’m going to do in the future.
  10.  Get yourself a good set of friends. Having people around you that care about you and your growth are so essential to a healthy life! Maybe you think you don’t have time to create these kind of relationships. Make time. I promise you, it’s worth it. Investing in people is one of the most valuable investments you’ll ever make! These are just a few suggestions, there are so many more that could be added to the list!

 

 

          What are some of the things you do each day to practice self-care?

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