The Importance of Self-Care
By Jodie Dunne, Sexologist
I recently started having a flare, in hindsight I had been ignoring it for too long. I do tend to push until there is no choice but to stop, which I do not recommend at all. I was in some major pain and needed someone to care for me through the negative mindset that my brain was spiralling me into, but alas there was only me. I am usually positive and determined to keep the forward momentum going, but sometimes I lose myself in the pain. I usually give myself 24hrs to stop and hide from the world and have a pity party as they say. In order to enjoy the positive pain free times there are moments where you need to acknowledge and process the pain and be gentle with yourself. I usually say 24hrs and the next day is a new day and time to move forward but three days maximum is what I will allow myself. Then for me it is important to find the positive. The down feelings are valid feelings and when we need a time out or we need help it is important that we allow ourselves to access it. It is important that we know we need time and space to process the pain and the processing time and that seeking help are positive strong actions.
So here are some ideas for how to use the processing time well;
Set the scene - I start with finding my most comfortable space and clothes and I shut the world out and watch something that makes me smile. Nothing that takes too much brain power. There is enough going on in my head already so something brainless and entertaining. For years George of the Jungle was my go to movie for a brainless laugh and to be honest a perv, Brandon Frasier is half naked most of the movie and he looked good (yes I would laugh at me too). These days the movie or TV show varies and I combine it with some self care and positive talk. I remind myself that laying on my lounge is exactly enough for me to be doing at that point in time. I am not wasting time I am recovering and I am worth that and more.
Acknowledge my achievements - I remind myself of my great achievements and I acknowledge the achievements in my life and the contributions I’ve made to others. I write in my journal (yes teenage flashback but it is actually widely known journaling is therapeutic) about the goals I have achieved in spite of my challenges. It is important that you don’t skimp on what you think you’ve accomplished or in acknowledging your goals. It seems that it is incredibly easy to forget how we would talk to a best friend or loved one if they were in the same mindset or pain that we are currently in. You would tell your friend who was having a difficult time all the positive things they had achieved and the difference they have made in your life. Value yourself enough to do the same for yourself.
This is where reflecting on past positive journal entries you have made comes into play. I know writing in a journal is something you did as a teenager not as a mature adult. It has many benefits, that’s why you did it back in the good old days. If you record your values, your accomplishments, your goals and the positives you experience in life it gives you a positive gold mind to look back through when you are having a low day. Use all the love and positivity you record in your journal to bring some positivity into your down time, be gentle on yourself and feel the love.
Food – Food it can heal us, reward us, comfort us and it can also contribute to our pain so choose wisely. It is so easy to turn to junk food when you are down. You can still treat yourself and choose food that will heal and comfort you. So reward yourself with something nutritious, good and comforting to eat. It takes a mind shift to not turn to the stereotypical comfort foods but honestly you will be rewarded far more if you choose good food that is not a potential trigger for your symptoms. Choose things that heal you and that taste good, and is good for you, that is a true reward yourself.
Be the change you want to see in the world - Shout out some awareness. People don’t always know the battle you’re up against, your story can be an inspiration to someone else, people don’t always know the battle THEY are up against. Endometriosis can take 7 – 10 years to correctly diagnose. And it is often ignored or misdiagnosed, so sharing awareness may be just what someone who is struggling may need in getting a correct diagnosis. I have had others tell me that sharing my own story with endometriosis has inspired them or helped them fight to get a correct diagnosis. Once this has happened to you, you’ll understand.
Look at things from another perspective – Move, paint, colour in, dance, play music, car dance, go outside, change your perspective. All these things may seem small and even insignificant but a change in perspective can make a world of difference. Research has shown that music and art therapy can have a positive impact on mental health and pain management so use your childhood joys to brighten your day.
I know you may not feel like it but study after study has shown the positive impact moving has on health outcomes and how vital it is in any pain management routine. So move, a walk around the block, a dance around your kitchen while the microwave is warming up your heat pack and repeat are small ways to keep moving. When you are ready incorporating exercise and movement into your daily routine is important. Think happy hormones, capable giving you a new perspective even on a down day.
Be grateful. – Be grateful for endo, yes I said it, and yes I know you want to smack me right now, but yes be grateful for endo. It may be hard to see it when it feels like it has taken so much from you but I can assure you it has also taught you a lot. It has taught you compassion for others and yourself, it has taught to appreciate the moment and the positive times in your life, it will have shown you those that really care, how precious your time and energy are and so much more. These are things that many people do not have the privilege of understanding until they are much, much older. Endometriosis sucks, but those that truly love you will still tell you they love you, that you matter and how amazing you are. No matter how bad the pain is or how lost you may feel you woke up this morning, and you have more than many and on the day when getting off the lounge seems impossible you have the internet and with that comes the joys of reading this blog or Netflix (fan fair, what did we do before Netflix). You have so very much to be grateful for and you are innately driven to find those things to be grateful for even on a day when you are hiding from the world in pain.
Avoid negativity - It drains you and it attracts more negativity. So ‘Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”, just avoid negative things and negative people. That is enough said on that.
Smile - Even if I don’t feel like it. I know you put on that mask smile for the world and I bet you are wondering why I am suggesting on a day when you are giving yourself time to process the pain and how crappy you are feeling, why I am telling you to smile. I am telling you to smile for you because you are worth it, because you have your favourite funny movie on, because you have comfort healing food, you are grateful for all you have big and small and you have tomorrow and every day after that to look forward to and to make the most of. So at some time during that down day while you are having a laugh at that movie or sitting quietly watching something that brings you peace take time to be aware of your smile, how good it feels and how beautiful it is, how beautiful you are.
I hope these tips have helped and please remember if you need help ask.
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