Be your best wellness self manager

Be your best wellness self manager

Be your best wellness self manager

The challenge is to learn how to function at your best even with the difficulties chronic illness can create.

Sometimes it feels like a full time job to manage the physical, mental and emotional aspects of living with a chronic illness.

Let’s start treating our wellness like our job. Let’s give it the same priority. There is no way to avoid managing our conditions. You might as well become your own best wellness self manager.

How we manage is a choice.

A very personal choice. There are no two ways the same and there are no two ways that are the right way for everyone.

One way to manage is to sit and watch TV or game all day. Maybe taking medication alone is the choice. Either of these are fine, I’ve used these methods myself.

But I also found that they were not getting me where I wanted to be and that was not working for me. But, it’s all I knew.

I still game and I still watch TV but now, it’s not all I do. I’m also choosing a naturopathic approach instead of pharmaceuticals. This is a new path for me but so far, it has been the best path I’ve been on. This does not mean I feel every person should be taking the same path. Everyone gets to choose what is best for them.

Things will change for the better once you seek options for better health.

I attended an amazing pain management group a few years ago. My mind felt like it was going to explode with so many new options as I gained knowledge about how pain is produced and how to manage it.

The doctors who ran the group were incredibly informative and compassionate. They taught us how to be a positive self-manager by being proactive about our pain and how to work with our healthcare professionals to achieve the best health we can.

I’m here to help you along your journey.

You are ultimately the boss.

You decide who you hire and fire (your healthcare team). You’re solely responsible for making decisions about the direction you want your health care to go in.

It’s OK to fire anyone at any time. I’ve fired a doctor after only two visits. He clearly did not care about my health. I was not going to waste either of our time.

This decision led me to my current practitioner, whom I love. It is entirely OK to fire your doctor if they do not line up with your needs. If you need help finding a new doctor that aligns with your needs, I suggest calling your health insurance company to see if they can help.

I’m on state assisted health care and was shocked that I had the option of a Naturopathic Doctor. I have been wanting to see a Naturopath for decades. It was one of the best phone calls I’ve made (and I HATE talking on the phone!).

Managing a chronic condition is very personal. One size fits all does not apply here.

You know your body the best. You have to live with it 24/7. Anyone else involved (including healthcare team members) only gets a glimpse of the picture you paint. Make sure you’re painting a very clear picture, good, bad and ugly of what your day to day life is.

I happen to present well to the world because that is what I was taught. I now hate the term “fake it until you make it”. NO!!!! This does not apply here!! BE REAL.

You must be honest about your triumphs and your pitfalls or your healthcare team will not be able to help you achieve your goals.

I’ve never seen any life transformation that didn’t begin with the person in question finally getting tired of their own bullshit

– Elizabeth Gilbert

This is not a time to bullshit anyone, including yourself.

It’s time for you to take priority.

Where do you begin?

As the manager of your chronic condition where to start will depend on where you are in your management process. You may start in a different place than someone else. Some of the steps are:

  • Gather Information about your condition to better understand what may be causing the symptoms you are experiencing and some of the techniques available to help you manage them.
  • Work with a consultant or team of them to determine the best way to manage your symptoms
  • Make a plan of how to integrate those new techniques into your lifestyle (your lifestyle will change slowly 🙂 )
  • Follow through on your plan
  • Track your progress so that you will know what your triumphs and pitfalls are
  • Adjust your plan as you go

 

What you do may not be as important as the sense of confidence and control that comes from successfully doing something proactive to deal with your situation.

 

This is a very slow process here. We’re looking for progress, not perfection. Just like learning how to walk, learning how to change something in our lives will be a bit clumsy and slow at first. That’s ok!

You may be frustrated and want to go back to old ways of coping. Remember that like learning how to walk, we got better at it the more we practice. Each day is a new day and each day is a new chance at adjusting what didn’t go well the day before.

Every day could be different for us who live with chronic illness.

It can be unpredictable but there are ways to be aware of the natural rhythms of your own body. One of the best ways to do this is to track your daily life.

By tracking things like what you eat, when you sleep, what your symptoms are, what activities increase symptoms, what activities help symptoms, etc. you will begin to naturally create a wellness plan that works for you.

Chronic illness usually has it’s peaks and valleys in intensity. Symptoms may not follow a steady path. I know for me, this is very frustrating but it has taught me to be more flexible with my own schedule and activities.

Are you ready to get started?

Great! You’ve come to the right place!

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Creating a Wellness Plan

Creating a Wellness Plan that works for you

Creating a wellness plan can feel overwhelming, especially when you live with chronic illness.

Living with a chronic illness, there is so much to work on, where do you start?

Talking to doctors over the years and going to various support groups, they all say to get yourself moving. Too many times I have said, “Easier said than done!”.

Awareness about food sensitivities have come into my life recently. I have become more knowledgeable about how the food I put into my body affects my pain level and other general feeling of wellness more than I thought. I needed a plan to increase my water and a way to track new habits.

Who is lying on the couch reading this and not wanting to get up because they are too depressed? Come on now…. I know you’re out there because I can’t possibly be the only one who has ever felt this way. The struggle is real, you’re not alone. I’m here to help.

There are three areas right there for myself. And that’s just the beginning. I understand the overwhelm you may be having!

You can do this!! You can, I promise you.

Start Small

I am so serious here. This is not a race and we don’t want you to get overwhelmed. Pick something that seems small but may be more beneficial than you think. Pick only one to start with. I picked moving more.

When I started attempting to move more, I started by walking around my home during commercials while watching television. Walking around your home instead of your neighborhood is still walking. Start somewhere comfortable, inside your home is OK!

Keep it short

I’d love to say that even today I can successfully walk around non stop for 30 minutes, but the reality is that I can’t always. What I CAN do is walk for a few minutes at a time several times a day.

Even if you are walking outside, keep it a short time when you start out. You don’t want to walk for 15 minutes, end up in pain and then realize you still have to walk that 15 minutes back home. If you feel you can walk 10 minutes, set a timer and walk 5 minutes, then walk back.

Be realistic in the time it will take YOU

The other day I was looking at some recipes and the prep time made me laugh. No, a 10 minute meal prep will take me way longer than 10 minutes to prep. I have problems with my hands and I need to sit to prep most meals. Even my boyfriend looked at them and laughed. I’m ok with several steps throughout the day to get a meal on the table for my nights to cook. We are eating better and saving money.

If your goal is a distance goal then don’t worry about how long it will take you, focus on how far you can get instead, again keep it SHORT.

I had a goal of reaching a walking bridge in a neighborhood we used to live in. It didn’t seem THAT far to walk. I had no time frame in mind as we were walking in the evening. I made it, it took me a half hour to get there and I had to walk that half hour back home but I made it. When we got home, we googled it and found out that it had been one and a half miles round trip! I never did it again!

I was in so much pain by the time we reached the bridge but I was determined to make that bridge to prove I could do it. Prove it to who?

Do it for you

When setting your action, make it for you. If you go into an action plan half hearted because someone else has an expectation of you, you’ll not get as much out of the action.

That walk to the bridge? I did it so that the next time I got a call from a birth family member, I could share my accomplishment in hopes that they would finally see me as good enough, not lazy. I was wrong.

Modify, Modify, Modify

Don’t be afraid to modify your goal as you learn your abilities. Maybe walking to the end of the block is still too much. If you live in an apartment, try walking around your building instead.

Maybe three times a week is too much for now. It’s ok to start out with once a week and build up. Anything you may do beyond what you are doing right now is a step (ha! literally) in the direction of better wellbeing.

Here are the steps to creating your action plan

 

  • What are you going to do?
  • How much are you going to do?
  • When are you going to do it?
  • How many days a week are you going to do it?

 

Example: This week, I will walk (what)

around the block (how much)

before lunch (when)

three times (how many).

Here is a free printable to help you out! Just click on the picture and it will open up to a PDF file. Save and print it out. 

A wellness action plan to get you started on a new you

 

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