When you have a chronic illness, you need to learn that self-care is a necessity rather than a luxury; this involves more than getting your nails done or buying yourself some flowers, it is about knowing what your body requires and then delivering on it. You need to carve out some sacred ‘me-time’ every day, set some boundaries, and make your health your top priority. Fatigue, anxiety and a flare-up in your symptoms are all signs that your needs are not being met.
As I write this blog, it is Autumn; a season that teaches us that change and letting go are necessary. Trees know when it is time to let go of their leaves, and we too need to release those parts of our lives that no longer serve us; and if we do this, we can look forward to a rebirth in Spring. As we watch the leaves flutter to the ground, we are reminded how beautiful and necessary it can be to let some things go.
So, why is it so difficult to step off the merry-go-round, turn down invitations or say no to extra tasks? Why do we so often say ‘Yes’ when we are really screaming out ‘No’? Well, very often we are people pleasers who afraid of appearing lazy, selfish or rude, we don’t want to look like a bad friend, we don’t want pity, and we most certainly can’t face having to defend ourselves yet again. We try to do more than is possible in terms of our homes, families, friends, jobs, fitness and socialising. We say ‘Yes’ to extra tasks at work, commit to attend events that we are too exhausted to go to, and do things that we don’t want to do out of guilt. The end result is that we are frazzled, exhausted, overwhelmed and are creating serious health problems for ourselves.
The reality is that it is not good to be on the go all of the time; our bodies and brains need time to recharge and rest. There is nothing wrong with just retreating from life to ‘just be’. Why are we all so afraid of an ordinary life anyway?
It’s time to prioritise the tasks that you have to do and those that you want to do. My priorities are sleep, rest, cooking healthy meals, exercising and eliminating as much stress from my life as possible; doing this then allows me to be at my best for my partner, family and close friends who are next on my priority list.
You are not the helpless owner of your life; it’s time to make some changes and set some boundaries. So before saying ‘Yes’, ask yourself: Do I have the time? Do I want to do this? Will this add to my life or drain it? We should be kind to others but also to ourselves, you can say ‘No’ when your motivation is self-care. We tell children not to be selfish, but sometimes it is necessary.
Your true friends and colleagues will understand that you are not rejecting them, and that you are not being unkind or lazy, you just need some serenity and tranquillity in your life. Solitude and silence are essential for our mental and emotional health; both of which have become victims of our modern culture’s focus on external gratification. So, kindly say, ‘I’ll get back to you’, ‘I will look at my diary’, ‘I will think about it’, or ‘I am tired and need to recharge’. You are only human and should not be ashamed of not being able to do everything asked of you. Solitude is a friend of the soul and sometimes we just need to retreat from life for a while.
You will never again get this day or this time back, do you really want to be lying on your death-bed looking back with regrets? I imagine that most of us will regret working so much, not spending enough time with those we love, doing things out of guilt, or being obsessed with money and materialism. Very few of us will be regretting the time that we gave to ourselves and our passions. We are so privileged to have time left to live a life that we can enjoy, you have one life, don’t spend another day of it unlived…