I didn’t realize how much my body and my mind had started to crave my walks. It is getting hotter out. I have been to tired, too achy. I put them off. When I did try to get back in the swing the heat and the humidity have reached the point that I need to cut my walks in half. Trying to walk the full four miles left me swollen for hours and too depleted to function. This is where my brain and my body don’t agree. My brain says you can do it. My body says not even close.
I know that now it’s not as hot and as humid as it will be in the dead of summer. I know this is just the beginning, which is why I need to get my Fibromyalgia/mental health toolbox out. I need to get it up to date and keep it fresh in my head too. We need to have a good balance of things that I can do inside and outside. I am not saying I am perfect at this. Far from it in fact. This is why it is important to have it out where you can see it.
What? Don’t you know what I am talking about? What toolbox do you ask? Well if you ask me this is essential and you probably already do it on some level.
This is a list you keep handy to help you remember ways to pace, function and recover.
This is mine. What works for me won’t necessarily work for you. However, this can get you started and give you some ideas. Slap this list up on the refrigerator. It needs to be somewhere you will be often. Chances are you will be going to the refrigerator at least once a day. The bathroom is another idea.
I pulled mine and looked it over and updated it a bit. As I am sure many of you know, what worked six months ago may not necessarily still work.
1. Schedule classes/activities in the early morning or late afternoon as much as possible.
This now I would probably change the morning and early afternoon. Late afternoon is not a great time for me to function. I don’t want to have to jump out of bed either so anything after nine am is preferred. Of course, this is not always possible. This is where other aspects of your toolbox will help
2. Take medications on time.
Sigh. I do this one really well for weeks at a time. Then, I fall flat. It’s four hours past medication time and I wonder why I am so exhausted and my heartbeat feels so fast. I then start setting really annoying alarms to go off on my phone. It doesn’t help if you look at it and turn it off and still forget to take your pills. I have done that too. The more annoying it is the more likely it is I will stop what I am doing and take the pills.
3. Schedule Recovery time after activities.
If I am going out and we will be out an hour, I am probably going to need at least half hour recovery time. This is not one of those things I follow all that great. I should, I really should. It really does work. I can get a crapload done around the house if I do it. Twenty minutes cleaning thirty minutes resting and so forth.
4. Take a water bottle!
Hydration is of the up-most importance. Obviously it is for everyone. However, our chronic illness/chronic pain bodies are working twice as hard. Drink water! Bring it with you, don’t assume they will have it. If you are not keen on the taste of just plain water, try infused water. Try not to use artificial flavors. These may seem to help you drink water, but it really doesn’t help.
I can’t tell you how many times this one catches me off-guard. Wait. I eat. I ate this morning. Oh, that was six hours ago. Yeah, those shakes and feeling light-headed might just be related to a lack of food. Specifically protein will be the best bet. I keep roasted peanuts in the car almost at all times. It’s amazing how fast a bit of protein and water will help me recover enough to function until I get home.
Sometimes what we have to do overwhelms us. It can overwhelm anyone, even those without any illness. When I am having trouble functioning, I try to focus on just how much longer I have to do this. How much longer until I can sit down, lay down, be home? This is where some of my recovery tool box items come in handy, like deep breathing.
It took me a long time to get into this. I had no idea there were so many types of meditation. The more I explored the better I got. The first few you try won’t necessarily be it for you. I can tell you there are plenty of Guided meditations on YouTube that the person’s voice is like nails on a chalkboard. There were ones the background music drove me nuts. I think a few even made me twitch. You can find a lot of downloads for Guided meditation which is what I recommend. Self-guided was of absolute no use for me. I need someone to tell me breathe in and count the seconds and all that. Tell me what I am supposed to be seeing in my mind. Tell me how my body is supposed to feel. Guess what? It is completely okay if this is not for you. It is completely okay, actually really good if you fall asleep. I often use meditation for this exact purpose. When my brain is focusing on every twitch and pain, my brain is going a mile a minute of all the things I should have done today. It redirects my mind and before I know it, I am asleep.
8. Ginger Tea
This stuff is magic. Ginger works so well for muscle relief. I can’t tell you how many times Ginger has aided my recovery time. I will make it extra strong in just a few ounces of water and toss it back if I am not particularly in the mood for tea. Ginger is scientifically proven to help. This combined with number nine has taken the place of aspirin or Advil for me.
Curcumin has so many benefits, not just for people with chronic illness/chronic pain. It has completely changed the way I medicate. If you tried this and were on prescription pain meds, chances are you didn’t notice a difference. I never got the full benefit of it until I had to go off my prescription pain meds. It easily took several weeks for me to notice a definite difference. It took six months before it completely replaced Advil. I am now working on trying to stop taking Tylenol all together at night. Until I found Ultracur it was hit or miss if I could find fresh Turmeric root. Quality products of Turmeric or Curcumin were out of my price range for the amount I needed to be taking per day. Ultracur is by far the most reasonably priced I have found. Every now and again I run out and I realize just how much it does help. It’s very subtle so it’s effectiveness can easily be missed.
10. Epsom salt bath
Okay so this one wasn’t working for me for several months. It drove me nuts. Nothing like looking forward to relief and it not coming. I still haven’t been able to soak for twenty minutes but I have gotten to ten minutes without getting too uncomfortable. Adding essential oils can greatly increase the effectiveness. I use them but there are times I just use Epsom salt. Muscles like magnesium. They like it a lot.
11. Natural Calm
It’s a specific type of magnesium that you drink. It doesn’t always have the greatest taste. However, it works. This is another thing I will take like a shot of alcohol. Just toss it back. Natural Calm tends to work quite quickly. Start your dose very small and work up to the full dose if you need it. Your doctor should be consulted to see what your magnesium needs are and how much you should use for relief. Of all the doctors I have seen, I have yet to have one tell me not to take it.
12. Tart cherry juice
This is another new one that I added not too long ago. It was primarily to help sleep but it also seems to help a bunch of other things. I didn’t like it when I first started drinking it. I struggled to get the minimum two oz down. Now I am more likely to pour at least a six oz cup of juice a few hours before bed.
So there they are, things in my toolbox.
Please do share what is in your toolbox! Let’s share ideas!