Beyond Bubble Baths: What Self-Care Means When You're Chronically Ill | The Health Sessions

Beyond Bubble Baths: What Self-Care Means When You’re Chronically Ill

It’s the buzz word of the year: self-care.

You’ve probably seen the articles about why self-care isn’t selfish and the lists of activities you can do to look after yourself. The stories invoke images of massages and spa days, sipping vibrant veggie juices in trendy yoga outfits and snugging up with a blanket and a book in front of the fireplace.

But when you’re energy and mobility are limited, self-care becomes a lot less glamorous than the picture painted in magazines and lifestyle blogs. Chronic illness can turn even the most basic forms of self-care, like taking a shower and cooking a meal, into a challenge.

At the same time, our health care systems put a growing emphasis on individuals taking control over their own health and actively managing their illness. We’re expected to eat healthily, exercise, get enough sleep and think positively, or seek professional help whenever we can’t.

Of course that’s a good thing. It’s your body and your life, and ultimately you’re the one who has to take action to make the most of whatever situation you’re given. But how can you do that when you feel sick, exhausted and in pain?

Let’s look into what it really means to practice self-care with chronic illness. 

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Why You Should Get Your Daily Nature Fix ( Even When You're Housebound) | The Health Sessions

Why You Should Get Your Daily Nature Fix (Even When You’re Housebound)

There’s no WiFi in the forrest, but you will find a better connection. 

We spend most of our waking hours indoors, working, driving and staring at screens. When you become chronically ill and don’t have enough energy or mobility to go outside, you can get even more alienated from nature.

Science backs our intuitive feeling that being outdoors has many important benefits for our health and happiness. Japanese medicine even studies the healing effects of immersing yourself into the woods, a practice called ‘forest bathing.’ So what makes being in green surroundings so healthy?

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How to Enjoy the Holiday Season When You're Chronically Ill | The Health Sessions

How to Enjoy the Holiday Season When You’re Chronically Ill

December, the month of celebrations. From the Dutch Sinterklaas, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years Eve , it’s the time for culturally-rooted festivities all around the globe.

But it’s little different celebrating when you’re chronically ill.

Pain, fatigue and other horrible symptoms can definitely mess up your plans and traditions. Depending on your personal health situation, enjoying things like shopping for presents, cooking an elaborate Christmas dinner, attending parties or even staying up on New Year’s Eve may not be an option – or one you pay a high price for with days or weeks of recovery time.

The trembling legs, relentless nausea or breathlessness won’t go away for a day just because today is a holiday and you want to celebrate. You still feel as good, bad or awful as you do every day, and it’s hard to keep smiling, enjoy the feast at the table and focus on sparkling conversations around jou when you experience throbbing pain or ’embarrassing’ stomach troubles at the same time.

So how can you make the most of the holiday season even when you’re chronically ill?

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Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Housekeeping Hacks 101

Getting Things Done with Chronic Illness: Housekeeping Hacks 101 | The Health Sessions

 

It’s probably one of the most common dilemmas of the 21st century: “How do I get everything – work, family, household, social life – done with the limited amount of time and energy that I have?”

This problem only becomes more pressing when you suffer from health problems. Because how do you juggle making a living and taking care of your loved ones when your inner battery only charges up to 50% every day and runs out of energy much quicker than everyone else’s?

Basically, there are two broad strategies to tackle a mile-long to-do list when you’re worn out:

  1. Find ways to recharge your battery better – e.g. improve the quality of your sleep, eat nutrient-rich meals or gradually increase your fitness levels.
  2. Experiment with life hacks that help you do everyday things more efficiently.

 

Now there’s lots of advice on this website (and in my upcoming ebook!) on getting healthier and more energetic, but let’s face it, some days you just have to make do with the tiny bit of power that you have left. That’s why I want to share a series of tips on how you can do more with less energy in all areas of your life, starting with the inescapable job of running a household.

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30 Ways to Entertain an Active Toddler When You’re (Chronically) Ill

30 Ways to Entertain an Active Toddler When You're (Chronically) Ill | The Health Sessions

 

Moms don’t get to be sick. And yet, we’re only human, no matter how much we’re trying to be superwoman.

Unfortunately, resting up in bed when you’ve come down with the flu or having a flare-up day is not really an option when you have a active toddler at home and no last-minute child care options.

Now, I don’t see too much harm in letting your child watch a bit more TV than usual when you’re too ill to lift your head from your pillow. But when your illness lasts longer than a day or two, you probably don’t want your little one constantly glued to a screen.

Luckily, with a little imagination and motherly love, you can still keep your two – or three year old entertained indoors while you’re sick on the couch. What works for you obviously depends on the kind of illness you have, how bad you’re feeling, how long you’ve been sick, your toddler’s personality and your family situation.

But here’s a big list of activities to get you and your toddler through a sick day and be a chronically awesome parent.

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