Monday, 3 June 2019

"Make time for your wellness...." ?

Recently a health care professional tweeted a version of the saying

"Make time for your well-ness or you will have to make time for your ill-ness"

I've seen a lot of hurt and upset reactions to this comment - interpreting it as saying "if you are unwell or chronically ill, or disabled, it is because you don't make time to be well - your illness is your fault."

I can understand that view.

Perhaps at one time I would have shared that view.

But today I see it differently.

I am disabled by several conditions - and I can't make them disappear.

However, one thing I have learned over the past 10 years is that if I don't look after myself, my symptoms get horribly worse. If I force myself to do more than I can cope with I end up injured, exhausted, in more pain, and having caused more damage (and if I really screw up, in hospital. Other things I can't control can land me in hospital too, but making no time for my wellness will - and that's something I can control). If I spend too long without exercising I get weaker, causing more injuries, fatigue, pain, and damage. In the early days after diagnosis I didn't make time for my wellness - I didn't know how to. I didn't know how to pace, I didn't know how to exercise in a way that worked for my body, I didn't know that a short nap instead of a forced continue was an option.

Now I do know - at least in part.

I know I have to pace and exercise, and I understand my body well enough to be able to do so.

And pacing IS making time for my well-ness. Making that a priority above expectations of others, or 'what I want', and 'what I planned'. Making choices that look after the 'long term' me.

Personally I still find this phrase slightly uncomfortable. Not because it is wrong, but because it reminds me that I've not been as good as I should with my physiotherapy and diet choices recently. I can't cure myself, but I can make choices that give my body the best chance of coping well with my life. It never feels nice to be reminded that I could (or even should) have been making better choices.

To me, the phrase isn't about being guilty for having the disabilities I have, instead it's about respecting my body and looking after it as best as I can - and I find that empowering.

I need to get back in to a better physio routine, make better use of my cooling vest now summer is here, and put some serious thought into my summer food choices (food can really affect my symptoms). I need to make time for my wellness. And I will. Not because it will cure me, but because it will help me be as well as I can be - and in the long term it will mean I am able to do more than if I didn't make that time.

So now I'm off to do some core exercises in between some short naps, before returning to my 'proper work'. I suppose I could say I'm taking a self-care lunch break.

I'm off to make time for my well-ness. Because that is better than making time for the symptoms that will worsen if I don't.

Page from 'The Pocket Book of Pacing' from  https://stickmancommunications.co.uk/product-category/condition-management/pacing-condition-management/ It says: "Swapping task or technique before your body forces you to stop can reduce recovery time. OVer a longer period it may even increase how long you can do a task without triggering symptoms!" with a picture of 5 progressively more exhausted stickmen.