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Does Managing Your Illness Feel Like a Full-Time Job? Tips for Easing Your Recovery

The transcript can be found under the video.

Do you ever feel like your healing journey is a full-time job? You're so determined to get better that every moment you spend feels like it has to be productive. Every activity you do must ultimately aid in your healing. But this can also make you feel guilty when you indulge in things that you believe are not conducive to your improvement.

Ironically, that feeling of guilt can also lead to more non-healing activities, soothing activities like comfort eating or staying up late and binge-watching a show. And then, next thing you know, it goes into a spiral and a vicious cycle, and then you feel worse, etc. At the same time, you might be hearing advice like, "Well, the key is to let go of things and to bring more ease into your life." And you wonder, how is it possible to bring more ease when you have so many activities to do and things to do in order to get better?

Today, I want to address this theme and discuss what to do when it feels like healing and getting better is a full-time job.

Before we dive into various strategies and different perspectives and ways of looking at this, we need to acknowledge that what you're going through is incredibly hard. While we can look for silver linings in any situation, it's important not to ignore the suffering that you are experiencing. The more we push it down and pretend it doesn't exist, the more it also can and will negatively impact your health.

So, when you feel strong emotions about your situation, try to sit with those feelings as difficult as they may be. Feel how they manifest in your body. Where do you feel them? Observe the thoughts that arise. The goal here is really to offer yourself compassion. You can maybe even place a hand over your heart or give yourself a hug. Remember that suffering is a shared human experience. It might help you to think of others who are going through similar hardships as it can also provide comfort and perspective.

It's also really important and crucial to understand that difficult emotions and even hard symptoms, they're not constant. They vary in intensity and they change over time. So, if you're currently going through a rough period, remind yourself that it will pass. It will change just as it has in the past.

Also, given that symptoms, emotions, and external factors are always shifting and changing, it's important to not view healing as a linear process. There are numerous variables that can affect it. Even if you're doing everything right, there could be external stressors, arguments, work-related challenges, or just changes in weather that can all influence your symptoms and potentially trigger flare-ups.

Despite our effort to control and manage the variables, there's still so much beyond our control. We might have a really clear image of where we want to be and attach ourselves to that desired outcome. We set maybe a series of steps to reach that goal, which is perfectly fine. However, if something happens that prevents us from following those steps perfectly, we tend to be tough on ourselves.

We may think that we need to change our diet even more or readjust various other variables. We might even question the effectiveness of the plan, especially if we're facing outside stressors that change things. In such situations, it's important to keep moving forward on our path without expecting immediate results. Acknowledge that disruptions can and will occur, and it's okay not to expect anything from them. It's possible to even regress in your progress or your symptoms a few months, but deep down, know that just as you have progressed before, you can progress again.

It's also really important there to recognize that this kind of clinging or attaching to the desired end goal often causes this suffering and dissatisfaction that we may feel. We may have grown accustomed to the physical sensation of the symptoms, but it's also that mental picture of how we want things to be, perhaps how they used to be, that actually ends up creating the most suffering. Embracing and accepting that present moment as it is, acknowledging the gap between the current and ideal reality, can start to also alleviate some of the suffering. That's where it's also important to take time to appreciate daily simple things, like the sunlight streaming through your window, or the gentle breeze when you open it, or a delicious breakfast.

Reflecting on my own experience of illness, when I was going through it, I recalled there was a lack of recovery stories online. Of course, there are people that said, "Oh, I have recovered. I feel better. I'm fine now," but I never really heard, at that point, kind of a timeline. This made me believe that it was possible to get better but not entirely sure how or when. And paradoxically, this mindset somehow helped me because I didn't really set strict deadlines or expectations. Each time I did notice progress, I was actually pleasantly surprised. But on the other hand, every single time when I've pushed myself to achieve specific goals within a set timeframe, it rarely turned out well.

Another important thing to look at is how can you reframe and how can you look at some of the changes you're making in your life right now. It's not just changes you're making to get out of whatever illness you're facing or to reduce your current symptoms. So when I work with people, one of the first things we do is we talk about their vision for life. We look at various areas of life, and not just health—health is one of many areas.

The reason for this is twofold. One, I don't want to focus just on health because, as we mentioned a second ago, there are so many external factors that come in, and then we get hyper-focused on, "Well, I need to go back to exactly how I was health-wise," which unfortunately doesn't help that much when we really start clinging and controlling everything in our environment.

The other reason is that some of these new habits that we're putting into place, like breathwork or dietary changes, meditation, various coping strategies, or the way that your morning or night routine is, your day routine, your job, etc., we need to look at how can they benefit your life in general.

Maybe these changes can help us be more mindful and improve our relationships with our family and friends. Maybe these changes can also lead to more happiness and satisfaction with day-to-day life. There are so many other benefits that go just beyond simply looking at health and symptoms.

One other area of life that we might not look at that closely, but then when we get sick, I feel like people start looking at it more, is creativity. Many people notice that before they got sick, they were busy with life and maybe they had not engaged as much in creative pursuits. And all of a sudden, they feel the need to express and to really embrace that creative side a lot more. And that's just another wonderful way of pacing, relaxation, and making our life more whole.

As a side note, I recently heard from a client that I worked with a few years ago, and she recently reached out. It was interesting to see how her health had improved since then, but not just her health. She had adjusted many of the other things we talked about.

They now live in a quieter place near nature, they've changed their jobs so that they do something that's more aligned with what they want to do in working with people, and even creativity is now a part of their day-to-day life. So, they're doing things that are more in sync with who they always wanted to be, and that's having profound effects not just on health but on life satisfaction and everything else.

Expressing creativity is also really therapeutic, healing, and when you're not able to move your body as much as you used to because you're feeling unwell, there's almost a need for people to be able to express themselves outwardly, to kind of expand, so to speak, and creativity helps with that. This movement right now, perhaps, is not feasible for you.

And since we're talking about outward expression, the other thing we need to talk about is support, outward support. We need to be able to express ourselves to others and be in a community of others that understand where we're at, especially during trying and difficult times.

In my work with people, I mainly used to work one-on-one, so we would focus on all the habits that I talk about on this channel that are kind of required to build yourself back up—looking at facing the nervous system, diet, movement, root cause, etc., ways to cope, accountability, and so on and so forth.

And it was wonderful. I still do one-on-one sessions, and they're great for customization and things like that. But I've noticed that when I started running smaller groups of people, small group coaching where people hold each other accountable, people got so much more out of it. It seems so liberating to them because others get exactly what you're going through day to day.

Realistically speaking, day-to-day life, you might not meet a lot of people who have thoughts or who have whatever condition you're dealing with at the moment. So being in a room with people where people get it, they're in the same room with you, and they get your condition, and where you could just say something like, "I wasn't feeling well this morning," or "I had a tough doctor appointment," and people know exactly what you mean without you having to go into more details. They just get it because they're in the same situation as you are. It's really incredible.

But what's also really wonderful is seeing the same people having consistency and seeing what's possible for other people, how their symptoms are changing.

So it's interesting. You can look at somebody and say, "Hmm, interesting. They tried that thing I was kind of debating trying, but they're feeling better now, and maybe I could try it. Maybe I didn't stick long enough with it. That's interesting." Or maybe when that person is maybe not feeling well, oftentimes you might look at them and say, "You know, I know where it used to be before. I know that this is just temporary. It's just a dip. You'll get right back out there." And sometimes you could take that same approach of looking at somebody else and saying, "Oh, look, I saw where you were then, and I know you're going to get better," and turn it on to ourselves when we're not feeling great.Having others believe in you the same way you believe in them when you are having a dip or a flare-up.

So the point of this is to find a community. If you're interested in joining the community I spoke about, you could book a call with me to see if that would make sense for you. If that's not something you're interested in at the moment, find a way to reach out to others online to have some kind of small, positive, but encouraging community group with people. So there are many ways to bring joy, happiness, and peace to this process. This video went through just a few of them, and I hope you reflect on them and also implement some of them in your own life.

Remember, there's also a free meditation that you can access below on the link below. It goes great with this video, complements the things I discussed, and there are also some journaling prompts that help you reflect. Please take advantage of that; it's free, made just for you.

The steps and all the procedures and things you're putting in place, I know they can be challenging and exhausting, but it also does not have to feel like a full-time job.

These steps can be more light, more free, more peacefl. The main thing is to have patience with yourself, to show yourself kindness, to celebrate, and to join a community where you feel supported.


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