Sometimes without really knowing it we are doing things that are holding us back. We could be improving but we don’t because we make specific choices, often without realizing it. Below I’ve shared nine things we do that keep our health from improving. I’m in no way saying that we can become perfectly healed and healthy again, I’m just saying that we can choose to be more healthy, and in choosing to do so, we can feel better, even if we remain chronically ill.
- Doing the same thing and expecting different results – So often, we want change but we do nothing to bring that change. Often this is because we are afraid to take the risk of change. When it comes to living with fatigue-related illnesses and chronic pain it’s easy to see why we might avoid change. Change can often hurt, or it can wear us out. It’s so much easier to accept the devil we know that risk the devil we don’t. But, change is important. Three years ago I took a huge risk and decided to stop doing the same things and expecting different results. I threw my diet and lifestyle out the window because I felt I had nothing left to lose. What was the worst that could happen if I juiced for a week, stopped eating gluten, dairy, yeast & eggs? It turned out that nothing bad happened and I gained so much good. Juicing for a week helped me replenish some really needed nutrients, and changing my diet overall increased my energy and put a stop to the massive pain and fatigue flares that I’d been living with. I’d fought that change for so long, but it was so worth it.
- Waiting for the right time to make a change – There will never be a right time. There might be easier times, and there might be harder times, but there will never be the right time. So many times I’ll say I want to start a juice fast again or really clean up my diet again and I’ll think but I have this thing this weekend and I want to be able to eat…. so I’ll start it next week. Then I don’t. The only right time to make a change it NOW, because we don’t do it now, we will find reasons to keep putting it off.
- Refusing to take risks – This isn’t far from the first one. When we keep doing the same thing it’s often because we don’t want to take a risk. We are afraid of what might happen. But, the truth is that everything is always a risk. However, you can choose a different risk. I’m an introvert so to me going into a group of people (especially if I don’t know them) is a huge risk. I’d really rather not. But, I’ve learned that it’s a risk I have to take. If I want to make friends I have to take that risk. If I want to learn things I have to take that risk. I took a huge risk going back to school to finish my degree. I had no idea if I’d be able to pull it off, especially once I got sick. How would my health impact my ability to finish my classes? Would I have to do it one class at a time? I really hoped not. But, I took the risk and so far it’s paying off in droves.
- Focusing on the wrong moment – If we want to be healthy, internally and externally, mentally and physically, we have to focus on what we are and can do today. Yet, too often we get caught up in what went wrong yesterday. How we overdid it yesterday, or how we have big plans for tomorrow. How many times have you been on a diet and cheated one day and then just felt like “well I screwed up yesterday so now I’m done I may as well eat whatever I want.”? We all do this. It’s not healthy. Healthy is focusing on today, this minute. What can I do right now to improve my health? What are the best foods to eat right now? Am I stressed out? Perhaps I should meditate right now.
- Not taking responsibility – No, you didn’t cause your illness! But, there are things you can do to help yourself feel better. we can’t just sit around and wait for the doctors to just magically figure out the right mixture of meds to make us feel better. We have to take responsibility and that means researching, reading as much as we can (when we are able) and learning what might help, then giving it a try. Share what you learn with your doctor and discuss it. If you have questions, ask them. Just don’t wait on someone else to help you.
- Closing your mind to new ideas – I am often so guilty of this. I remember back during the first few years after I received my Fibro diagnosis. I can’t count how many times I heard from people that I should try giving up gluten. There’s one vitamin shop in town and I swear every time I went in there the lady told me that I should get off gluten (it had helped her so much), oh and eggs, and dairy. That was like my whole diet at one time. I simply wasn’t open to the idea that diet could help me. Heck, even my GI doc at the time told me that diet had nothing to do with IBS. So, I didn’t. It took a long time, and honestly it took me hitting bottom before I was willing to open my mind to new ideas, and try just anything.
- Filling your mind with negativity – I try so hard to stay positive, but it doesn’t always happen. I’m learning, though. And, I have learned that staying focused on the positives of life really helps me avoid stress, and not having that stress really helps my pain levels and fatigue. A friend saw me out a few weeks ago and he stopped to ask me a question. He said “I’ve wondered this for a long time but I didn’t know how to ask it online without sounding like a jerk. How do you write about pain all the time and not have make you hurt worse?” My response was that I go out of my way not to right about pain. I rarely ever actually talk about the pain I’m in either on my blog or even in person. I have to be hurting to the point where you need to leave me along to even mention it to my husband. Avoiding thinking about pain doesn’t make it less real, but it does avoid letting it created a negative energy. It allows me to place my focus on other more positive things, like helping people. I avoid negative blogs, I avoid watching the news, and I avoid negative people whenever possible because filling my mind with negativity just increases the pain.
- Worrying about what other people think – I’m so guilty of this and have been all my life. The truth (and I know it) is that other people don’t’ really think about me at all, and certainly if they do they aren’t thinking the thoughts I’d assign to them. We all waste so much time worrying about what other people think. What will so and so think if I cancel on them again, what will that stranger think if they see me dressed like this, and on and on. The truth is that we are judging ourselves through the eyes of others. Instead we need to be kind to ourselves. What others think really doesn’t matter. All that really matters is what we are doing for ourselves to improve our lives.
- Holding onto a past reality – Chronic illness changes us, it changes who we are, and who we will be in life. It often takes away our hopes and dreams. But, most often it just exchanges them and we have to figure out what they’ve been exchanged for. Just because you can no longer be the person you were, or do the things you used to do, it doesn’t mean you are worthless. You still have great value. I have learned so many things since I first got sick. I learned that I can paint, that I can write better than I ever thought I could (and maybe even make a living at it), I learned that my value is not my ability to go and do every day. My ability is within me. I can still learn, I can still love, and I can still try new things. I still have a huge future in front of me, and I’m excited to see what it brings.