Do you ever dream about going to a luxurious wellness center where you can fully focus on your health and happiness?
I know I did. During times when I was severely ill, I used to fantasize about exotic yoga retreats or Swiss spas, with nothing on my mind but gentle exercise, nourishing meals, health-boosting massages and meditation sessions.
But unfortunately, that’s not how recovery works for most people. It’s something you have to work on in the midst of doctor’s appointments, work obligations, looking after your family and running a household.
And even if you do start your healing process in a rehabilitation retreat, one day you will get back to your regular life. You still need to find a way to combine managing your health and your other responsibilities.
So how can you work on your recovery from illness in everyday life?
A lot of it depends on your health condition and personal situation. But here are some helpful ways you can still boost your health and happiness when you’re short on time and energy.
7 Doable Ways to Work on Your Recovery in Daily Life
1. Focus on the four essentials
When you’re so sick you can barely function, you’ll try anything to feel a little better. It isn’t unusual to get overwhelmed when creating your action plan for recovery. Should you use superfood powders, try acupuncture or add essential oils to your baths? My advice: don’t overcomplicate things. Instead, focus on the four essentials of recovery:
- Restoration. Learn how to truly relax your body and mind to support your natural healing process. Sleep and deep rest may not sound as sexy as sipping green juice, but they are the first step of rebuilding your health.
- Replenish. Nourish your body with nutrient-rich foods, like high-quality protein and your daily dose of veggies.
- Rebuild your fitness. Gradually get your strength and fitness back with simple workouts from home, walk training or physical therapy.
- Regain your focus. Discover how you can boost your attention span to be able to get back to work or school.
Covering these four areas of healthy living forms a solid basis for your recovery plan.
2. Start small
It’s tempting to go all-in and overhaul your lifestyle when working to rebuild your health and happiness. But drastic changes rarely last in the long run. So it’s easier – and more effective – to start small. That way, you’ll actually do it and create a habit you can stick to.
If you struggle with mobility and fitness, taking a one-hour Pilates class may be too taxing. But you can do one yoga pose a day and slowly work your way up. And you don’t have to go from a standard Western food pattern to a ‘perfectly healthy diet’ – eating vegetables with every meal and crowding out the bad stuff is a great place to start.
Focus on one change at a time and turn it in a sustainable habit.
3. Prep low-effort meals
Do you struggle to put a healthy meal on the table? When you’re exhausted and in pain, whipping up a nourishing dinner each night can be quite a challenge. But with a little planning and some helpful gadgets, you can still get all the nutrients you need without burning yourself out.
For example, overnight oats and smoothie bowls are great, low-effort breakfasts. You could also make one-tray meals in the oven or invest in a Crockpot to effortlessly make a nutritious bowl of food. Here are tons of recipes and tricks for you to try:
- How to Effortlessly Make a Healthy Dinner When You’re Tired
- Recovery-Boosting Recipes: 25 Meals That Support Your Healing Process
- 10 Nutritious One-Tray Meals for Busy Days
4. Fit gentle movement into your days
Even if you have limited energy and mobility, there are ways to gentle move your body (almost) every day. You don’t necessarily need intensive workout sessions in the gym to rebuild your fitness and strength. Start by sneaking short active moments into your days and gradually expand your physical activities.
Also don’t be intimidated by complicated exercise routines. Walking is the most natural way to move your body, so work your way up from couch to 1K – or even 10,000 steps a day. You can also stretch in bed, have a living room dance party or actively play with your kids. Anything that gets your blood flowing!
5. Mind your mind
When you think about ‘recovery’, the first things that probably pop to mind are eating right and exercising. But your thoughts and emotions have a stronger impact on your physical health than you may think. What’s going on in your mind, triggers all kinds of neurochemical reactions in your body.
That also means you can use your mental powers to boost your health and happiness. And no, sitting in lotus for hour-long meditation isn’t required (although very helpful!). You can plan mindful micro-breaks, like doing a relaxing visualization, or practice genuine gratitude. What’s more, if you struggle with negative thinking, it’s helpful to stop ruminating and start changing your automatic thought patterns.
What’s your favourite way to nourish your mind in a healthy way?
6. Make rest days more restorative
Do you feel like you’re wasting your time or playing a game of “two steps forward, one step back” when your symptoms flare up? Taking a rest day when you need it isn’t just a necessity, it can actually be restorative in the long run.
If you can, swap binge-watching Netflix for ‘activities’ that activate your body’s relaxation response. You could do breathing exercises, practice a mindful body scan or try progressive muscle relaxation. Or perhaps a loving-kindness meditation makes it a little easier to accept those bad days.
7. Create multifunctional habits
Healthy living can feel like a lot of work when you try to add every advice to your health repertoire: move your body, eat healthily, quit bad habits and adopt wellness rituals. So when you’re low on time and energy, kill two birds with one stone and get multiple health benefits from performing one single routine.
For example, when you move your body outdoors, you get the extra perks of the fresh air, sunshine and being in nature. And eating veggies with most meals not only replenishes your body with vitamins and minerals, it also boosts your happiness and sets the tone for your overall food pattern.
More so, you can make everyday activities a little healthier. Do the dishes with mindfulness, go cycling as a way of transportation or get your daily nature fix while the kids play outside. And of course, you can also combine your new healthy habits with something you enjoy, like listening to audiobooks while meal prepping.
Although specific wellness rituals can surely help your recovery, healthy living doesn’t always have to be complicated. For more ideas on how to support your healing process, check out ‘How to Create Your Own Action Plan for Recovery’, a 200-page guide with in-depth advice on how to rebuild your health after illness and injury.
How do you work on your recovery while juggling work, family and medical appointments?