My name is Marya and I live in Florida with my husband and three of my younger children (16, 18 and 21.) As a special needs mom with chronic illness I’ve learned a lot about juggling spoons since my diagnosis in 2010. On these pages you can find hope and encouragement for a healthier mind, body and spirit.
Does it seem like the world just keeps moving faster and faster? We’re working long hours, parenting, keeping up the house and yard and trying to fit in a social life in between.
We’re busier than ever, yet we are all still limited to the same twenty-four hours each day. Something has to give and unfortunately rest and relaxation are the first to go.
Sleep is essential for our long term health and survival. We can’t survive very long without it. If you’ve ever had a newborn in the house or been in any other situation where you didn’t get much sleep for days and weeks on end, you know how bad the effects of sleep deprivation can be.
Severe lack of sleep will be noticeable very quickly. Everyone has that occasional sleepless night but after a few days you’ll feel completely frazzled.
You can pull one all-nighter, but go for a couple of days on little-to-no sleep and you’ll start to feel like you’re going insane.
Sometimes people think that cutting back on sleep here and there is okay but it’s really burning the candle at both ends and sooner or later your body will pay the price.
We need to make rest, relaxation, and adequate sleep a priority to stay healthy and productive. Maybe you feel like you get more done when you get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later.
You might feel like you’re catching up on work when you bring it home on the weekend to work on. Sure, it gives you more hours to work on all that backlogged stuff, but it often doesn’t make you any more productive. Work will fill the space that you give to it.
By making rest and relaxation a priority and giving both body and mind to recharge, we can get just as much done in a shorter amount of time. That’s what I hope to show you during this month long exploration on the topic of relaxing and reducing stress.
Unfortunately it feels like we’ve forgotten how to rest and relax. Running on cylinders all daylong can feel exhilarating and super productive, but eventually you’ll crash. Taking intentional periods of relaxation will heal your body from the adrenaline surges and chronic stress and when you return to it, you’ll feel refreshed and more productive.
How to Find Time to Relax
Start a journal. Spend a few days noting how you’re spending your time and then you can make intentional decisions about eliminating time wasters.
Learn to say no. There can be so many demands from our family, kids’ activities, church and community. Most of them are probably worthwhile, but can you really handle them all? Identify what’s most important to you at this season of your life and let the rest go.
Take digital breaks. A great time to do this might be Saturday evening to Sunday evening. Turn the 24 hour news cycle off and get outside if you can. Your brain needs the break from the constant stream of content intake.
Ask for help. Outsource what you can. You shouldn’t and can’t do it all. Find family members to help with caregiving and household tasks. Hire a housecleaner if you can.
Take a nap. There’s nothing wrong with taking a little down time in the afternoon so that you can keep on being productive later in the day.
Practice deep breathing and meditation techniques. Deep breathing is a great way to reduce adrenaline surges and stress hormones. Just slow, even breaths will help tremendously.
Make an appointment with yourself for self care. It might be a nice hot shower, some yoga, foot bath or curling up with a book. Whatever works for you!
Relaxation and self care have to be intentional before they become ingrained habits, so go ahead and find time to relax!
We live in a crazy busy world where we’re always reachable, a 24 hour news cycle that doesn’t let up, email alerts, as well as advertising.
Not only that, but social media puts us under a lot of pressure to document the perfect Instagrammable or Pinteresting life!
Finally, we’re juggling families, careers and possibly being caregivers as well. At the same time many are struggling to pay off student debts and mortgages. Is it any wonder that we’re more stressed than ever and stress related illnesses are on the rise?
Over the next 30 days, I’ll be sharing lots of stress reduction tips in bite-sized pieces to teach your how to relax more and live more intentionally.
It’s so important for women in every walk and season of life to practice self care and as a special needs mom who lives with chronic illness herself, I have to practice these principles every single day or my health suffers.
I’m personally convinced that my own autoimmune issues partly came as a result of years of frenzied living without taking the time out for self care and relaxation.
Begin today to learn how to relax more and take a more intentional approach to stress reduction.
Believe me, if you don’t plan it will never happen! I’m inviting you join me over the course of the next 30 days to become more intentional about reducing stress in your life.
Every day I’ll have a new tip or idea to share with you on stress reduction.
As we begin, let’s look at how making an intentional effort to relax more can help us reduce stress. Feeling stressed is an ancient biochemical process that has served us well over the course of human history. This process is designed to get us ready for unplanned physical stresses like running away, or fighting.
Now, this coping mechanism definitely has its time and place but if we’re operating in a constant state of stress, it can open the door to a host of unwanted health problems.
We have to find other coping mechanisms and different ways to calm back down and that’s where making an effort to relax more comes in.
Have you ever gone through a period in your life where you drank way too much coffee, diet sodas or energy drinks? At first, that caffeine jolt will wake you up and keep you alert for a couple of hours. But then, as you start to drink more and more throughout the day, it takes larger quantities of caffeine to get the same effect. Your body builds up a caffeine tolerance. And then you NEED it.
It’s the same process with stress. The more often we are stressed, the more adrenaline and other stimulating substances and hormones the body has to dump into our system to get the same reaction. The problem is that being too stressed too often takes its toll on the body.
We need to practice stress reduction on a daily basis. For coffee addiction, there are several things we can do. I’ve personally never been able to give it up completely! But I do keep it to 1-2 cups (and they are big cups…) in the morning. I keep them healthy by not using sugar or processed creamers and prepare keto coffee most mornings.
Learn to Relax More and Stress Less
Stress works the same way. We can down-cycle the hormone release by making an effort to relax more and stress less. Not only will it greatly benefit your overall health, you’ll also feel better without all those extra stimulants coursing through your system 24/7.
I hope you join me on my path of stress reduction by learning to make self care a priority and relax more during the coming 30 days and beyond.
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As a mom with chronic illness, I’ve come to understand that body, mind and spirit are deeply connected. For example, stressful situations have an almost immediate impact on my mental and physical wellbeing and it’s become essential to check in with my health daily and continually look for ways to keep growing. Here’s a few wellness audiobooks and podcasts I’ve discovered that can help anyone to lead a more balanced life.
Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World
Mindfulness, also referred to as living in the now, is a particular form of meditation practice that can help people with a range of issues, including stress, anxiety and burnout. Meditation means to think. Mindfulness meditation only takes a few minutes each day, and you can do it almost anywhere. Following the 8-week program carefully will lead to remarkable results.
Yoga: The Top 100 Best Yoga Poses: Relieve Stress, Increase Flexibility, and Gain Strength
There are thousands of yoga poses. This beginner’s guide teaches 100 poses which can help you see results in terms of strength, pain relief, and an increase in inner calm. Yoga counts for both aerobics and strength training, making it the perfect workout to do at least a couple of times per week. Yoga also counts as a moving meditation because it requires such focus.
How to Live Well with Chronic Pain and Illness: A Mindful Guide
Chronic illness creates many personal challenges, from relationship issues to financial issues as well as mental health concerns. Author Toni Bernhard addresses these challenges using practical examples to illustrate how mindfulness, and compassion can help her readers make peace with a life suddenly turned upside down.
TED talks are incredibly popular and with good reason. The idea behind the acronym is to have Technology, Entertainment and Design all merge. TED talks are short, sharp, and to the point. Listen and learn more about the topics of healthy eating, the latest in cancer research, and much more.
This podcast was founded with the goal of looking at every aspect of how humans can improve their health and learn to be the best they can be. In particular, these programs look at ways to add technology to our live to help us get fitter, and the body, mind and spirit connection that propels people towards their goals.
Hosted by Lewes Howes, this is an inspirational podcast about health, wellness, and being all that you can be. His special guests are successful & influential figures in their profession or industry. Listen regularly and you’ll be on your way to transforming your body, relationships, and more.
Primal living is a very popular topic right now. Bee the Wellness is popular podcast that talks about getting back to basics, with a Paleo or Primal diet It also emphasizes adding activity to your daily routine so you are not sitting in a chair all day, but are up and moving like our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
This podcast encourages listeners to aim for the life of their dreams. The host offers various insights based on his new-found appreciation of life after two near-death experiences. If you’re feeling stuck in a rut, this podcast can help you set goals and transform your life into the one you’ve always longed for.
Jillian Michaels rose to fame through her work on the TV show “The Biggest Loser,” and has inspired and motivated countless people to lose weight and keep it off. Her work stems from her own struggles with weight. If you’re keen to transform your body and life, this is a good place to start.
Wellness Podcasts Can Inspire Your Health Journey
Many of us are so busy with work and family matters that we don’t pay enough attention to our health—until we get an expected diagnosis. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Wellness podcasts can help to both inspire you and keep you on track with your health and fitness goals. You can also create your own reading and listening list and track your progress to a brand new you.
You can listen to audiobooks and podcasts you can listen to almost any time or anywhere. You’ll be encouraged to pay more attention to your health and take the action steps you need to meet your health goals.
Whether you’re trying to lose weight, physically transform yourself or live more comfortably with chronic illness, there’s an audiobook or podcasts that’s just right for you.
I’m working in collaboration with INGA Wellbeing to review their hospital loungewear. I chose the lounge pants in nav blue. As a chronic illness blogger I sometimes have the opportunity to review products of interest to the chronic illness community.
During a recent ER visit related to my new Ulcerative Colitis diagnosis I found myself in the unfortunate situation of needing fresh clothes and having to don a hospital gown because I didn’t have anything to wear.
That was an awful feeling!
I haven’t had a long term hospital stay since one of my pregnancies, but do have relatively frequent pelvic surgeries which always has me looking for comfy pants to wear home and during the recovery.
Hospital gowns feel pretty dehumanizing and of course, there’s that dreaded opening in the back!
INGA Wellbeing designs high quality, classic men and women’s lounge wear for long term hospital or recovery stays. The company strongly believes in the patient’s right to dignity, comfort, confidence and independence.
Feeling like you’re dressed is an excellent way to support your mental and physical wellbeing during a long term hospital stay or resting at home. Interestingly, recent studies show that patients who are able to wear day clothes in the hospital spend 0.75 fewer days in hospitals than patients who wore hospital gowns.
Women’s Relaxed Trousers
This classic loungewear is an classy solution for women who would rather not show their legs, or wear compression socks or catheters.
The fabric is buttery soft and a very classic fits. You’ll feel like you’re dressed to go outside if you need to!
* Front panel opens fully, providing access from waist to upper thigh to waist, and is fastened securely with buttons to ensure there is no risk of sudden exposure.
*Leg outer seams are poppered from the ankle to mid-thigh and can be fully or partially opened as needed to allow access to catheter bags or for treatment or massages.
*Wide-leg design hides drains and catheter bags strapped to the leg, and poppers on the ankle can be used to shorten the leg a little, if needed.
*Broad waistband ensures comfort and fit even with changing waistlines.
*Pockets can be used for small drains or for personal items, such as lipsyl or tissues.
*Soft, stretchy, natural fabric ensures maximum comfort and helps regulate body temperature and odour.
I love the quality of the pants. Unfortunately, I asked for the wrong size. I’ve recently lost 50 pounds and wear a medium in American sizes (Old Navy medium pajamas are loose on me) so I didn’t think much about ordering the same size from the Inga.
The pants fit fine from the hips down, and were long enough for my very long legs, but were too tight around the waist. Now, I have just started Prednisone treatment and am on the verge of menopause in addition to my ulcerative colitis diagnosis so that could very well be a part of it too.
I hope to continue to lose a bit more weight so hopefully I’ll be able to use them in the future!
I give Inga the highest recommendation for these extremely well made clothng items, but if you’re an American “apple” shape like me, be sure to take measurements & check with the company if you’re interested in their trousers.
Alternatively you might want to consider their back opening dress. It’s an incredibly flattering dress that I’m sure will give you a great mental boost even if you’re not able to get up.
Through May 8, you can get 50% off all of Inga’s midnight blue range of clothing here. Check it out here!
Getting diagnosed with cervical dystonia in 2010 was the worst thing that could happen to me as a special needs mom. Cervical dystonia is a movement disorder that comes with relentless chronic pain as the muscles in my neck and shoulders are continuously spasming and shaking. Some days I look like I have Parkinson’s. It’s limiting and completely exhausting.
On top of that, I was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as well. One more thing.
Truthfully, many days I’m struggling with Mommy Guilt. I have two children with special needs, one who definitely will never drive and the other is questionable at this point. I watch the moms around me who endlessly chauffeur their kids to enrichment activities, field trips and theme parks. Disney is an hour away and we’ve never gone as a family. We’re home a lot, which is fine with me but I feel bad about the kids missing out. One trip out results with my getting wiped out, sometimes for days. But I still get up and do it when I can..
I know my kids have missed out and it hurts me. I’m the mom who likes to experience everything and I was able to do it with my older kids who are now adults.
How to Thrive as a Mom With Chronic Illness
Determine Your Priorities
For me, to seek God’s will and direction every day of my life is foundational to everything else. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for years and have been sober since 1988. My recovery is contingent on my spiritual condition so…first things first.
Learn to Detach
As a special needs mom I have to go the distance in ways most moms don’t have to. I constantly have to think ahead and be ready for anything. This has come at a price. I began to think that the outcome of everything was dependent upon my efforts. The reality is that I’m a finite person with limited physical capabilities. I can’t do everything. This is where the 12 step motto “Let Go and Let God” comforts me. I have to remember that He’s in control and loves my kids more than I ever could. All He’s asking me to do is be a faithful servant to the best of my ability.
Practice self care
I’ve struggled with disordered eating and various other destructive behaviors for most of my life. As a mom with chronic illness, I need to take care of what limited energy reserves I’ve got. After my spiritual disciplines, physical self care is most important. Daily movement in the form of yoga, wise eating choices and rest are essential to my functioning the rest of the day. I know that my kids are thankful for the healthy food choices in our home.
Be Open to New Experiences
In the old poem “Welcome To Holland” the author reminds us that in our journey as special needs parents we meet wonderful that we would never have met if our lives had not taken this turn. This is so true. I’ve met the most wonderful people from all walks of life in the special needs and chronic community over the years. I keep going because of them, even it’s only online.
Finding Joy No Matter What
I’ve learned to find joy in the little things. Even when I’m bed bound, I’m so grateful for a comfortable place to sleep when so many in this world don’t have that. Little things like coffee and a bowl of oatmeal soothes my soul.
And I still have to advocate for my kids. Among four kids we have diagnoses of neurofibromatosis, Down Syndrome, congenital heart defects, learning disabilities and severe scoliosis. Trying to keep up with everything has been so trying and I feel like I fall short so many times.
But I hope my kids will always remember that I had their back at all times. Like most other special needs moms, I go from zero to sixty in just about ten seconds when I see my kids might be treated unfairly.
In order to thrive and heal, you must accept any limitations by faith, trust in His faithfulness each step of the way, and wait for His grace so you can live a faithful story right in the place you find yourself.
Every day, no matter how I feel I have to show up for life as best I can and keep trusting in the One who has my back.
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For some of us, Mother’s Day is hard. I’ve been blessed with a loving husband and four beautiful children but it’s hard not to think about my prenatal losses and toxic family relationships.
If it were up to me, I’d be happy just to take off to the beach for the day and avoid church, restaurants and Facebook where it’s entirely too easy for me to start thinking that I’m the only person who deals with sadness and loss.
For those of us living with dysfunctional, toxic relationships with our mothers the advertisements reminding us to “remember” Mother’s Day leave us with heaviness. People who haven’t experienced this type of difficulty (well, trauma) don’t understand and often admonish us to honor them and forgive them.
And that’s true. We can’t let bitterness destroy us. However some survivors of toxic homes are suffering from bad memories and are possibly living with PTSD. To continue a relationship that is still toxic and abusive is destructive.
Every survivor of abuse has to decide for themselves how much contact they can stand. Some have chosen to continue the relationship, while others have limited contact with heavily enforced boundaries and still others have gone no contact.
It’s important to remember that estrangement isn’t an overnight decision for anyone. It generally comes after years of trying to reconcile only to be on the receiving end of abusive behavior again and again.
How to Cope When Mother’s Day is Hard
*I’ve learned to accept what has happened. Nothing can change the past. but I can choose to be a different kind of parent and there has been healing in that journey for me. In parenting my children, somehow, I learned how to parent myself.
*There is always something to be grateful for. Think of a few of them and take some time to reflect on them. Enjoy who is with you today – whether it be your spouse, your children or your pets. If you are by yourself, treat yourself to a fun movie or make some time for creativity.
*Be good to yourself – If Mother’s Day is hard for you, it’s okay to stay away from places that are triggering, whether it’s a family gathering or even going to church. Make a different plan. It’s really okay. Maybe an “at home” day is what you need. Otherwise, go to the beach, a park or anyplace that helps you to get out of your head and relax. Go out to eat or pick up some great take out to enjoy at home.
*Acknowledge the positive women that God has put in your life. In His love and wisdom, I’ve been blessed with many encouraging older women since I started my walk with him years ago.
*If you send cards, make use of the blank ones – for those with toxic relationships with their mothers, it is excruciatingly painful looking through the happy display of Mother’s Day cards and wondering why things turned out the way that they did for you.
*Stay off Facebook. In fact, consider a digital break. Like other holidays, sometimes seeing all the happy pictures and outings that everyone else seems to have (I know, my perception) but it can be overwhelming.
For adult survivors of abuse, whether it be emotional, mental or physical, Mother’s Day is hard. If you have a person in your life who has chosen limited or no contact with their mother, show them understanding and grace.
It’s hard enough to experience and process the extreme hurt and pain that comes from growing up in such an environment, and then to be judged for taking decisive action to protect yourself just compounds the hurt.
If this is your struggle too, I hope you find peace in your situation. You don’t have to make a big deal about the day if you don’t want. Give yourself grace and do what’s right for you.
Mindful living is learning to live in the present moment without judging yourself or others. This doesn’t come naturally to most people. In our rapid paced world, many of us suffer from destination addiction. We’re always thinking ahead to what comes next.
For example, maybe you’re headed out for a fun day at the beach. You’re excited to get away from everything and unwinding. But then, as you’re driving, you start replaying the argument you had with your husband a few days ago.
And before you know it, you’re all amped up again!
Instead of living in the current moment, you found yourself digging up dirt from the past. Doing this makes it hard to move on and can lead you to carrying around anger and resentment.
In recovery rooms mindfulness is referred to as “keeping your head where your feet are.”
Learn to Practice Non-Judgmental Awareness
Instead of reacting emotionally to situations like people do when they’re on autopilot, you can learn to focus on the current moment without and observing them without letting your emotions take over.
You might see an aggravating social media update from a friend that makes you angry. But instead of responding, you stay in the moment. You acknowledge your emotions without judgement. And then you just move on. This frees you from losing a day of productivity because you were obsessed with this one comment.
Mindful Living Helps Ground You in Gratitude
During unpleasant tasks, like while you’re washing dishes or cleaning up the kids’ messes, it can be tempting to let your mind wander. But an important part of mindful living is learning to stay in the moment, even if that moment is unpleasant or uncomfortable.
Don’t give into feelings of negativity as you’re staying aware during a difficult moment. Instead, focus on giving thanks. For example, you might say something like, “I’m blessed to have a home to clean” or how much you love your kids even when they’re being messy. Now, you’ve managed to stay in the moment without letting yourself focus on the negative.
Mindful Living Can Improve Your Mood
Few things can improve your mood quite like mindful living. Often, anxious thoughts are the result of worrying about the future while sad thoughts are related to regretting the past. Mindful living helps because it forces you to stop overthinking.
Unless there’s something you can do to change your past, you have to accept what’s happened in your life. If you do find that you’re frequently haunted by regrets or always worrying about tomorrow, it might be smart to speak to a trained counselor who can help you move on.
Mindful living is one simple way to improve your life. Try to spend a week focused on mindful living and see how your thoughts change.
Stop Living on Autopilot
Susan was driving her daughter to a playdate with a friend from school. She spent most of the drive thinking about the fight she just had with a friend. When she arrived at her destination, she realized she was actually at the grocery store, instead of friend’s house. She quickly turned her car around and managed to her friend’s house on time.
What Susan realized at the grocery store was that she had been on “autopilot.” She wasn’t fully present in that moment. Some researchers say that the average person spends over half their time on autopilot. This isn’t an intentional way to go through life!
One common problem in our society is phone addiction. Whether you’re at the doctor’s office or at a red light, you’re constantly checking your phone for messages. You respond to text messages when you’re waiting on line at the grocery store. You dictate your to do list into your phone while you’re driving.
You’re constantly connected to your smartphone, but the fact is that you’re disconnected from the world around you – your family, friends and coworkers.
If you make a habit of eating in front of a screen, you’ll notice your empty plate but then you can’t remember what your food tasted like. Or worse, you realize that you’ve eaten more food than you thought you did. This type of disconnect between your body and mind can lead you to overeat (with regrets afterwards) and to not enjoy your meals as you should.
How to Create a Mindfulness Journal
Mindfulness is a complete body, mind, and spirit practice. Through meditation and
contemplation, you begin to remove the negative from your life as you learn to recognize it. You’ll also begin to see what is triggering you and how your body physically reacts to that triggering. One way to do this is by having a mindfulness journal.
How to Set Up and Use a Mindfulness Journal
A mindfulness journal strongly resembles what some might call a devotional journal. In
many cases, people use a scripture or quote to prompt their writing. This verse or statement gives you something to reflect on about your own life. As you write in your journal, you’ll be reflecting on this quote and giving your thoughts how it applies to you.
Many mindfulness journals are prompt based to get your mind thinking and focusing on you and your feelings about your day or whatever stress you’re experiencing in your life.
The ideal time to use a mindfulness journal is in the morning. This allows you to bring
the focus to you and keep that focus for the day. It is usually part of a meditation routine
that allows you to meditate for several minutes, write about your thoughts, and take
those thoughts with you throughout the day. It is a form of written meditation that can
help you focus and de-clutter your mind and thoughts.
Mindfulness journaling helps to declutter your thoughts. Some people really struggle with monkey mind, and mindfulness journaling is a great way to lose the mental clutter. It’s also a way of getting to know yourself once again.
Mindful Living Tips
Now that you’re familiar with what the concept of mindful living is, you’re probably wondering how to get started. Here’s a few exercises to get you started.
Savor Your Morning Drink
The sacred brew…whether’s it’s coffee, tea or a smoothie, take a pause first. Practice being present instead of mindlessly gulping while you scroll your social media feed.
Take a Nature Walk
Be fully present in your surroundings. What do you see and hear? Before you tune out on your headset, Take ten minutes to notice your environment as you walk. Walking meditation is a wonderful tool to find your focus and calm your emotions.
Choose a coloring page that inspires you and won’t stress you out. How do the colors you have chosen make you feel? What does it feel like to move your art tools over paper? What thoughts are coming up and how do they affect you? You may want to journal some of these emotions.You might want to alternate between coloring and journaling if it helps you.
You’ll probably feel uncomfortable the first few times that you attempt to practice being mindful. This is totally normal and just means that you’re not use to living in the moment. Keep doing exercises like the ones above regularly and you’ll eventually become comfortable with the concept of living mindfully.
Is Mindfulness Christian?
For a long time I considered mindfulness meditation as something potentially scary and to be avoided. At least it was taught that way in the churches I’ve attended. But in my journey of recovery and living with chronic illness I’ve learned that mindfulness meditation is an excellent way to cope with the anxiety and stress of the conditions I live with.
The physical science is there to support it. And far from “emptying my mind” I’ve found that when I lose the mental chatter it’s easier to focus on my devotions. I consider Romans 14 to be very applicable here. If it’s not right for you, then of course don’t do it but I’ve found it immensely healing.
I finally came to an understanding that mindfulness is simply “practicing the pause.” Being totally present where I am this minute instead of racing to the next perceived destination. I’ve noticed a very distinct difference in the way I process stress now.
Mindfulness is not prayer. It is a brain exercise that can be integrated with Christianity. Dr. Gregory Bottaro
Our bodies are wonderful gifts. They talk to us all the time and tell us when they are out of balance or when certain parts need attention. When we allow space to connect with our breathing and our physicality, we allow ourselves to truly see and hear what our bodies are trying to tell us. This allows Christians more clarity and power to help nurture the container of the soul. It also provides more strength to literally help you embody your faith. Eden Kozlowski
It’s been a pretty eventful month in my life. Apart from my main diagnosis of the neurological condition cervical dystonia, I’ve had some distressing gastrointestinal symptoms for several months which made me wonder if it was something more than the irritable bowel syndrome I’ve lived with for years. You can read the whole story here.
“She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”
― Elizabeth Edwards
My Chronic Life
Shot relief finally kicked in. The Xeomin shots I get for dystonia usually take full effect a couple of weeks after injection, and then I have a nice break from the relentless muscle spasm.
Getting suddenly diagnosed with ulcerative colitis has meant making some big lifestyle changes in a hurry. Knowing what I already did about the GAPS diet, I jumped right in in the hopes of avoiding any extreme drug or surgical methods. I’ve definitely seen an improvement in just a few weeks but at the doctor’s recommendation, I am going to take a two week course of steroids.
I’m really encouraged by online conversations that many people experience improvement from IBD with holistic measures. I was already a medical marijuana patient for muscle spasm relief, but it also helps with reducing inflammation from the IBD. I was kind of spacing it out to lower the cost, but now with all this going on I’m going to take it as directed.
One possible explanation for the ulcerative diagnosis is that I’m about half Eastern European/Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Our population is about four times more likely to get ulcerative colitis.
Got a skin recheck at the allergist’s office. Five years of getting shots and my back was still blown up. Still, there is marked improvement and notably my dog allergy is just a trace one now. Cats are going to take a while longer. My asthma is also better controlled, and I haven’t had much in the way of the usual spring allergy symptoms so it’s been a good investment of my time.
My Self Care Routine
I’ve had to eliminate Leslie Sansone & Yoga With Adriene for now. I still have some GI pains and don’t want to push too hard. I love Healthy Moving to teach me how to build strength and endurance into my daily activities. Spoonie Yoga has been a great way to keep up my yoga practice with gentle yoga routines.
I love the Calm app for daily meditation. I have ADD and an insane monkey mind that never stops. I’ve seen a distinct difference in the way I handle stress by doing this most days.
Using Creativity to Cope With Chronic Illness
A very long time ago I found a lot of escape from a difficult childhood by getting lost in the art that I loved to create. But when I was around 14, I tried to get into a specialized high school and didn’t make it. That was also around the time my life choices became questionable and I stopped making art in favor of self destructing.
Decades later, my kids are growing up and I’m looking around at the art books and supplies I was always drawn to but never had time for. I feel like I’ve lost everything and am starting from scratch.
As a blogger and virtual assistant, I spend so much time writing, learning marketing and tech stuff that I really need to step away from it when I can and just do something with my hands. I’m keeping it very simple for now with coloring pages.
Special Needs Parenting While Chronically Ill
I’ve been homeschooling since 1996. My older kids had the benefit of having a mom who was physically able to run all over central Florida for various field trips and activities. My younger kids who have special needs didn’t have this, and it makes me sad because they needed it even more. It’s been really hard watching the other parents who are able to do everything while I get wiped out from just one afternoon out!
My homeschooling journey is coming to an end in May. My thoughts are a whole other blog post, but I’m looking forward to a new season in my life with hopefully a little more freedom, flexibility and creativity.
I’m running on very limited fumes right now and have to plan my daughter’s graduation events. Trying not to worry about what the future holds for her and my son. Ulcerative colitis is a potentially very scary situation with kids who completely depend on you but I’ve got to pray and trust in God’s provision for the situation that he’s allowed.
My Faith Journey With Chronic Illness
I’m continuing on with She Reads Truth. It’s become my go-to devotional. It’s doable and always very relevant to my life. I’ve fallen behind on my Bible Reading plan (this always seems to happen around spring, when life gets busy and I’ve started Leviticus) but I’m giving myself grace to pick it up again when I’m not so tired. I also like to do some scripture writing and color in my Bible.
To add to all of this, I think I’m finally experiencing the beginnings of menopause (I’m a late bloomer!) So far, the hot flashes have been barely noticeable. Guess I’m hoping that my very holistic lifestyle will minimize the worst of it, but I also have to be realistic.
We may not be fearless
but we will be *strong*
because our *faith in You*
is greater than the fears in us.
And that might just be the best news we’ve heard:
lay all those fears & worries to rest in Him.
I’ve seen a couple of blog posts recently trying to make a case that self care is selfish. (Not linking to them because as part of my own self care practice, I try to avoid online drama!) This got me to thinking because as a chronic illness blogger, I write about self care practices frequently. And I strongly believe that self care is not selfish!
Take Care of Yourself First
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’re probably familiar with the safety presentation before take off. Back in olden times this would consist of the flight attendants demonstrating the proper use of seat belts and reviewing important emergency information.
These days however, it’s usually presented as a video on your personal screen. At some point in the presentation, the use of air masks is demonstrated and it’s notable that mothers need to be reminded to put on their own masks before assisting their children.
The reason I mention this is that it’s a powerful reminder to us that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of everyone else and as moms, we’re very guilty of doing this far too often.
It’s all to easy to take care of everyone else around you and never get around to your own self care. Most of us were taught from an early age to put ourselves last when it comes to self care, and this is especially true for women.
Now, there’s always going to times others have to come first. For example, your newborn doesn’t have a choice and you’ll be sacrificing a lot of time, sleep, and energy in those first few weeks and months. But usually, that’s only for a temporary period.
Self Care for Caregivers
I know that some of you are caregivers to children or have other family members who are in need of assistantance. Some of you may even have a chronic condition while being caregivers to others (like me…) and help is hard to come by.
Special needs moms, sober moms and moms with chronic illness often are living with PTSD while navigating their circumstances. It’s been said that women like us have psychological profiles similar to combat war veterans.
Self care in our situation is tough, but not impossible. You have to be intentional about it and at times, you’ll just have to grab that five minutes or more for self care on the fly when the opportunity presents itself.
Self Care Is Not Selfish
For many of us, taking care of everyone else before ourselves is something we do on autopilot. Learn to become more aware of it and stop putting yourself last all the time.
And when you’re dealing with a high intensity situations it’s certainly a tight rope walk at times. You really have to be intentional in your situation to be able to make a conscious choice about how you’re going to spend your time.
And you know what…it’s perfectly okay and necessary to put yourself first at times. The consequences of putting yourself on the back burner for months or years are very costly. After awhile, there’s really nothing left to give and your health will suffer.
It may feel good to put ourselves last, but when we routinely do it, we’re doing more harm than good to those around us. It causes us to be stressed and exhausted and that’s not pleasant for those who have to live with us! So, self care isn’t selfish!
Self Care is Having New Experiences
When you go outside what’s familiar and look for new experiences, you open yourself up to new adventures. You’ll discover new ways to do things. You’ll also find solutions that you wouldn’t have come up with any other way. As a result, you learn more about yourself and the world around you.
To begin, it’s easy to bring new experiences into your life just by looking for opportunities outside of your usual comfort zone. Try a new restaurant. Drive a different route to work. Volunteer for an organization that you wouldn’t typically support. Take a weekend road trip to someplace new and see where you end up.
Remember that your environment shapes your self-confidence, so don’t be afraid to look around at your life and make some changes. Surround yourself with people and experiences that build up your self worth and make you happy. Distance yourself from toxic friends and family members if you can.
Self Care Is Living Mindfully
Mindful living is one of the best ways to practice self care. Often, anxious thoughts are the result of worrying about the future while sad thoughts are related to regretting the past. Mindful living helps with this mindset because it forces you to stay in the present.
Unless there’s something you can do to change your past, you’ll have to accept what’s happened in your life. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and grieve, and then move on in your own time. But if you find that you’re frequently haunted by your past or always worrying about tomorrow, it might be a good idea to speak to a trained counselor who can help you move on.
How to Practice Self Care
Starting today, make an effort to carve out some time for yourself. Do one thing for yourself, even if it’s just enjoying a quiet cup of coffee alone, or catching an extra 20 minutes of precious sleep. Investing time for self care matters. Do this more often and see for yourself how powerful the impact can be!
Practical Self Care Ideas
Go outside for a walk.
Do some YouTube Yoga.
Take a hot shower and indulge in some at home spa goodies.
Visit your favorite coffee shop.
Curl up in bed and take a solid nap.
Meditate for 10 minutes. (Yoga nidra is especially soothing!)
People from all walks of life are rediscovering their long lost love of art and creativity. If you’ve been wanting to get started with adult coloring books, keep reading.
Adult coloring books and printables are everywhere right now. I think a lot of people need a release from digital everything. Not only that, but coloring reduces stress and can also be considered a form of mindfulness meditation. Coloring is a no-stress creative outlet that anyone can do with just a few supplies.
Coloring for Mental Health
When you were a child, you probably enjoyed using crayons and a coloring book, and today, you can also enjoy this activity by using adult coloring pages. There are multiple mental health benefits from coloring therapy, so don’t feel like you’re being childish!
Mental stress is destructive for your overall health and it can lead to physical problems. Instead of using food or alcohol to relieve your stress after a difficult day keep an assortment of coloring pages and beautiful crayons ready at home.
Coloring Can Relieve Depression
If you struggle with depression, then coloring therapy can lift your mood. When you’re feeling sad, you can choose brightly colored crayons and coloring pages that have a positive or happy theme.
Use crayon colors such as yellow, orange or red to stimulate the emotional center of your brain while you create artwork such as flowers. And while you’r coloring, play some music that you like, concentrate on positive thoughts and say positive affirmations to yourself.
Coloring May Reduce Anxiety
If you struggle with anxiety, then find adult coloring books that focus on mindfulness so that you can feel better. The best crayon colors to reduce anxiety include shades of blue or pale pink. These soothing colors may help you to feel calmer.
How to Get Started With Adult Coloring Books
There’s so many options available not it can be a little overwhelming. And if you don’t like coloring mandalas, there’s lots of options to choose from that are completely adaptable to your skill and mobility needs. Don’t think you’re limited to just coloring mandalas. There are dozens books on almost every theme imaginable. Here’s a few ideas to get you started!
What are you grateful for? What blessings have come to you today? Color Your Way to Gratitude is a beautiful hybrid of a coloring book for grown-ups, and a journal to record the significant moments in your life. Spend time in quiet reflection, while coloring, to truly appreciate and be thankful for your surroundings. An attitude of gratitude invites even more experiences for you to cherish and appreciate.
Are you an essential oil junkie? Lemon Essential Oil coloring pages explores different aspects of Lemon – the history, science, uses, and more, all while providing fun and detailed coloring elements. The Lemon Essential Oil package includes quotes, and recipes, and a nature journal page, all themed for Lemon.
Here’s a few more out of the box coloring books:
Coloring Supplies for Adult Coloring Books
There’s no rules for adult coloring. Don’t be afraid to experiment and feel free to color outside of the lines! Two of the most popular options are colored pencils and markers. Each one has its own advantage.
With colored pencils, you can change the intensity of the color by varying the amount of pressure you put on the pencil, which gives you more control over how your coloring page will appear.
Markers can give your picture an intense, vibrant look. They’re also a faster way to color, if you’re low on time or energy. However,they don’t allow you to vary your hue. So if you want to color a flower several different shades of pink, you’ll have some difficulty with that. And you’ll also have to check any new coloring books you buy to ensure your markers aren’t ‘bleeding’ onto the next page.
But don’t be afraid to experiment with coloring tools that are out of the box. Some people really using gel pens to color, while other people might prefer to use a box of crayons. Try out a few options and see what you strikes you as the most fun.
How to Choose a Color Palette for Adult Coloring Books
If you’ve ever become frustrated with how your pages come out, try working with color palettes to give your adult coloring books a more uniform look. You can find inspiration for color palettes in nature or around your home. Any time you’re out, if you see a color pattern that inspires you, just take a quick picture of it. For online inspiration, you can do a Pinterest search of color palettes, this inspirational brand palette guide from Canva, Design Seeds, or Color Collective.
How to Get New Coloring Sheets Every Month
If you’ve become a coloring fan girl and are always on the lookout for new coloring sheets, you might want to check out coloring memberships where you can sign up and you’ll receive new coloring pages each month.
Color Monthly is what I use and is just one of the many options available. You can get your coloring sheets delivered digitally or physically, whatever works best for you.
The advantage of going digital is that you can print the designs yourself. So if you like a certain weight of paper or prefer a particular layout, you can make sure it’s just the way you like it.
Now the advantage of getting your designs bound in a book is being able to take multiple designs with you anywhere. All you have to do is grab your book, your coloring supplies, and you’re ready to start out on your next adventure.
Remember, coloring isn’t about doing it “the right way” or staying in the lines. There are absolutely no rules when it comes to coloring. You can make your trees pink if you want, add your own doodles to the page, or even paste an inspiring quote on your coloring sheet.
Don’t stress over it…get started with adult coloring & just have some fun with it!
P.S. Go visit Color Monthly for unique designs that you won’t see anywhere else!
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