Lately, I’ve been experiencing something I never had to deal with before: Chronic fatigue. My pain levels have been higher and more frequent than ever. This has been going on for about a month and, while I’m happy to say I appear to be past the worst and am now improving, it has taught me an incredible life skill, a “life hack,” if you will.
I discovered how important it is for me to have an alternative to my everyday self-care routine. Sometimes I feel awful and can’t do my usual routine, so now I have a backup plan for my worst pain days so I won’t feel like I’m failing. For me, I never like feeling as if I’ve done nothing all day, or to feel like I can’t do something because I’m having a flare, so I don’t know why I haven’t thought of this before.
Let me give you an example. My skin care routine every day is pretty intense. I’m not going to lie, I stick to it daily, twice a day. But during this extremely tough and tiring point in my life, sometimes I would make it through my morning routine, but would have to skip washing my face (or skip something else so that I could wash my face) at night, the time when face-washing is most important. But recently I got some face wipes and I love them! No, it isn’t my daily skin care routine, but the wipes felt just as good on my skin as my usual routine. So, if for some reason I cannot wash my face at night, I can use these wipes, check it off my to-do list, and still feel like I have succeeded.
Are there some examples of this idea that you can use? While I used the skin care routine, as that is something that is really important to me, you can apply this to any area in your life. If you run out of energy by the end of the night, what are some simple meals you could make? What’s a less energy-exerting morning routine for a rocky start to the day?
Could you create a list of things that give you an energy boost or things that calm you down should you need either? These are important things to think about as a chronically ill person and they can help you manage your routines. They are acts of self-care, which we all deserve.
How about planning alternative activities to use on your bad days to replace what you usually do? For instance, if you usually go for a swim to manage your chronic pain on an off day, what could you do on a day when your pain is so severe you can’t swim? What could you do to care for yourself then? That’s when I am sure you will find that having an alternative plan is a good idea.
I know that sitting on the couch or moping in bed all day doesn’t help me feel better. But watching a few episodes of one of my favorite shows does make me feel like I’ve completed something.
Take care of yourself!
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