Post-Exertional Malaise: How to Cope with Crashing After Activity | The Health Sessions

Post-Exertional Malaise: How to Cope with Crashing After Activity

You’d been looking forward to that special occasion for weeks. You managed your symptoms as best as you could and mustered all your energy to celebrate Thanksgiving with your family, attend your best friend’s wedding or make the annual Christmas party at work this year. And as a ‘reward’, your body crashes hard the day(s) afterwards.

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Real FOMO: What to Do When You're Missing Out Because of Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions

Real FOMO: What to Do When You’re Missing Out Because of Chronic Illness

We’ve all had this dreadful feeling: There’s this amazing concert of your favorite band and all your friends are going, but you can’t make it.

The fear of missing out, mostly known as FOMO, has become a buzz word over the past few years. Thanks to Instagram and TikTok, you get live updates of the fun your friends are having at parties and on exotic holidays, making you wish you were there too.

But there’s a big difference between this ‘social media envy FOMO’ and the fear of missing out thanks to chronic illness. Because instead of that pang of disappointment that you’re not able to be everywhere and do everything all the time, you may not be able to do anything at all. ‘Chronic illness FOMO’ is not a one-time incident, but a deeper sense of loss.

When you’re too sick to take part in social activities like summer barbecues, the annual family weekend or New Year’s Eve parties, it can be really lonely. And it’s not just because you’re missing out on so many experiences, but you feel a little left out too. Those ‘Oh you had to be there’ inside jokes can make it harder to fit in at times when you are well enough to join in on the fun.

When you’re experiencing legitimate FOMO, what can you do to cope?

I don’t have all the answers, but hopefully these tips can provide some solace.

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Healthier Holiday Baking: 15 Sweet Recipes to Enjoy This Season | The Health Sessions

Healthier Holiday Baking: 15 Sweet Recipes to Enjoy This Season

Admit it: Part of the holiday season fun is eating all the good food. But good food doesn’t automatically mean sugar-laden sweets and desserts.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in ‘guilt-free’ treats, because there’s nothing wrong with having cookies on Christmas Eve and you should enjoy that. For some of us, however, eating pecan pie or candy cane causes harmful blood sugar spikes, abdominal pain, allergic reactions or worsening of our chronic illness symptoms.

Thankfully, you don’t have to settle for boring unsweetened, gluten-free banana bread during Thanksgiving or Christmas family gatherings. These 15 better-for-you cookies, cakes and puddings prove that healthier holiday baking looks and tastes deliciously!

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9 Tips & Tools for Healthy Cooking with Chronic Illness | The Health Sessions

9 Tips and Tools for Healthy Cooking with Chronic Illness

This blog post contains some affiliate links to resources you may find useful, at no extra costs to you. All opinions are my own. 

You hear it all the time: food is medicine.

And it’s true, good nutrition can support your health in many ways. Eating a wide variety of unprocessed foods will provide you with the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients your body and mind need to function well. What’s more, herbs, spices and adaptogens are used all over the world to reduce or manage symptoms better. And of course, you’ll lower your chances of further health problems when you limit your intake of alcohol, sugar and trans fats.

But putting a healthy meal on the table is easier said than done when you live with chronic illness. Fatigue and pain can stop you from being able to cook, while opening cans with rheumatoid arthritis or standing behind the stove when you have POTS may be a mission impossible.

Of course you don’t always have to spend much time in the kitchen for a nourishing dinner. Maybe your partner or housemates enjoy cooking, or you could use meal delivery services. But if you don’t have a family and big budget, or you follow a specific medical diet, then making your own meals can be key for your health.

So what can you do to make healthy cooking easier when you’re tired, in pain or dealing with symptoms?

Take a look at these 9 tips and tools for healthy cooking with chronic illness.

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11 Vulnerability Quotes to Give You Courage to Open Up | The Health Sessions

11 Vulnerability Quotes to Give You Courage to Open Up

This blog post contains some affiliate links to products you may find useful, at no extra costs to you. All opinions are my own. 

I was 18 years old and housebound with juvenile rheumatism, fibromyalgia and ME/CFS when the planes hit the World Trade Center. And as we learned the survivor stories in the following months, I remember realizing, ‘I would have never been able to run down all those flights or stairs or through the nearby streets.’

It’s scary to come to understand that you may not be physically capable to escape dangerous situations or fight off harmful viruses. But living with chronic illness can make you feel vulnerable in all kinds of ways. You lose that natural trust in your body, not knowing if and how you’ll be able to function from day to day. Your bare body suddenly becomes a clinical object for doctors to examine from top to bottom.

And just when your heart is wide open, dealing with the raw emotions of getting diagnosed with heart disease, diabetes or arthritis, is when it’s easiest to get hurt even more. So many of us living with chronic illness lose friends, get judged by others or even medically gaslighted.

Experiencing that vulnerability, when your physical and emotional defense systems are already down because of chronic illness, can make you feel fearful, helpless, ashamed or rejected.

And yet, you can’t close yourself off and live life wholeheartedly at the same time. Sure, it feels safe to build walls around your heart, but those defenses work both ways. As Brené Brown describes in her bestseller ‘Daring Greatly’, you can’t keep painful emotions out and still let joy, gratitude and happiness in. You cannot experience deep love, support and belonging without opening up to others about how you’re truly feeling. And it’s hard to accept yourself and your new reality when you can’t be your authentic self around family and friends.

If you want to experience life fully, you need to be willing to take emotional risks.

Yes, please be selective with who you confide in and when. Not everyone deserves your trust and access to your most intimate thoughts. Don’t pour out your deepest feelings in supermarkets, waiting rooms or on the Internet. But don’t let the people who hurt you in the past take away your ability to make meaningful connections now. Because like Katherine Henson wisely said, having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.

So take a look at these 11 vulnerability quotes to give you the courage to open up (again). 

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