As I posted Helpful Things to Combat Depression from Pain or Illness I was struck that maybe I needed to go into more detail. Maybe even give you a clue as to what I do to help with these 20 things that I have found helpful. Remember that I am not a medical doctor nor am I suggesting you change what you are told by any medical doctor.
- Rise from bed by 8 am each day. Eat a full breakfast including a protein.
- Shower each morning to wake yourself up. You do not need to soap your whole body. The water will wake your senses up.
- Get outside daily. Just 15 minutes sitting on the porch works wonders for the breathing.
- Stay active, even with exercises done on your bed or chair. Walk daily. Even if it is just around your yard.
- Never do one thing for longer than an hour and a half. That is unless you are enjoying nature.
- Eat healthy and consume less junk food or foods that have artificial enhancers.
- Listen to soothing music or faith-based music.
- Find a new hobby; reconnect with an old one.
- Take time each day to go over a list of the things you are thankful for. What made you happy today? What was good about the day?
Let us look at #1 and #2. Getting up in the morning is so important in the frame-work of a day. Mood and activity at this time of day determines the base line of your mood and mind-set for your whole day.
It may be hard to just roll over in bed. There may be mornings that you did not get to sleep before even 6 am. I have found that the “8 am” is so important, even with just getting to nod off at 6 am. If I sleep beyond that time I am extra tired throughout the day. I feel drugged and sluggish. I have a natural alarm clock outside my windows in the morning. The school buses will go by between six and seven. I do not rise, but I do get my quiet time in. I contemplate my day. I think about my ‘yesterday’. I do my body stretches while still in the bed. I have learned that if I do not stretch before climbing out of the sheets, I may stumble, or the rest of my day goes slower and more unsteady.
Since my ‘blood sugar’ is always lower in the morning I will eat my breakfast before showering. I may have for my intake a fourth cup of juice mixed with water while I fix my food. My ‘most of the time’ breakfast will consist of an egg or hot cereal with dried fruit in it, maybe uncured bacon, or uncured sausage. Or I go to the GF breakfast bar. I will have some form of caffeine each morning.
#3 — If weather is permitting I eat outside. I know this is a luxury for some, but if you are going to work each day, try getting up earlier. That means going to bed earlier also. This eating outside balances my system with fresh air and the noises of the critters that are also waking up. It connects me to nature and is a form of mindfulness. Since I do not work, I can sit on my swing and stay there until the humidity drives me in for my shower. If you work, do not eat at your desk, go outside to have your lunch. If you park close enough and it is raining, eat in that car. Take, at the minimum, 5 minutes of your lunch to be outside each day. Most of us rush to our cars to get in the traffic to go home, slow your walk down and take your time before you mingle with all those other cars.
I have another rare disease called Aquagenetic Puritis, this means my skin reacts to water in any form. [#2] So I have learned to shower in a format that allows me to tolerate the water on my skin. But I have been told by dermatologist that we in America tend to shower too much. Never the less, this shower a day is particularly important to the clearing/cleaning of the mind, not just the body. I do not soap up every inch of my body. I use shampoo when I have a product in the hair or every other day. I only soap those areas that are in need. Your back may not need soap, you know where you need the soap so do not worry about skin drying. Use your morning shower as a flushing of the bad energy that you acquired the day before. If you use essential oils add a drop to a tiny glass plate while you shower. I use a tea light holder. The scent will ground you and awake your positive moods. Try orange e-oil. That is my wake-up oil.
#4 — Moving your body is important. A sedentary body loses muscle mass, for one thing. A couch potato gains weight. A body that does not move puts undue stress on your back. There are hundreds of reasons to move. If you sit longer than 30 minutes just get up and look out a window. If you have no clue how long you sit at a time, set an alarm on your phone, tablet or whatever you have handy. There are apps for that! Find one. Tell Santa you want one of those “shaming” watches. My daughter has one and it goes off all the time. I laugh and told her it was ‘shaming’ her to get moving.
Things you can do are stretches in a chair. Take at least five minutes to do some. The simple ones I do are: Arms above the head and reach for the sky, hold for the count of ‘5’ and do five at a time. Then hold in the airplane position, same counts. Then put those arms in front of you, same count. Don’t forget to flex your fingers and roll your wrists. Then the next few stretches, if you are able to flex the back, just tilt back and sideways. Don’t try to cause pain, just flex. Then do your legs, point those toes and hold, then curl them to your leg and hold. Pull your knees up and hold. One leg at a time. Flex those feet. Repeat each movement until your five minutes are up. I do these stretches several times a day. Even before going to sleep. Heck, I even do them in the middle of the night.
#5 — It may seem strange that I said to not do anything longer than an hour and half. If you spend hours on end on one task you may not be moving; you may be over stimulating your brain and get frustrated. Any chore from vacuuming to bill paying can determine your mood. If you spend too much time on any task, even a hobby, you are not moving, breathing, and/or conversing with others. All of those are much-needed in a balanced life.
#6 — Eating Clean is a must. It keeps the gut in check and happy. Junk food increases negative feelings. They don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing. You might think that it means the food comforts you, but just the opposite. It causes you to need comfort. You get bloated and then your mood crashes. You have heard the saying – you are what you eat. How true is that? If you put unhealthy food in the body, you are the reason it is unhealthy. Your body is going to scream at you, not just the gut, but with inflammation. Too much salt makes your joints swell, salt then turns to sugar cravings. What a vicious cycle.
#7 — Music is so good for us. It soothes or gives us energy, even depresses us. Taking the time to calm our spirit with music is so beneficial. If you have the chores to tackle and not the energy, listen to the upbeat songs and sing along. If you are worried, then pick gospel songs. If your pain level is too high, then try calming waters. Your heart will beat with the beat of the music. No joke. Try putting your hand on your chest and feel your heart beat. With diverse types of music your body will respond. Why put your body into stress? Pain patients need the calming and prayer music. You may want to add listening to scriptures for your music time.
#8 — Hobbies are the easiest way to keep your mind off your body. But keep in mind the need for setting that timer. It will help so that you do not remain zoned into your hobby for too long without movement. I read somewhere that crocheting has been proven to help with chronic pain. Don’t believe me? Just type in “crocheting and chronic pain” into a search engine.
#9 — Reflection is so important in ending the day’s activity or even the day’s before. The time I spend on reflection at night is the time that I put into words my day. It is the time I reflect on the good and not so good. It is the time I tell the Lord how grateful I was for the day. Then in the morning I can grab all of yesterday’s negative thoughts to be put in the rubbish or down the drain, where they belong. Morning is a wonderful time to anticipate a good day. It is the time to say to your brain that you are craving a good day. It is also a time to commune with your Lord, hence the breakfast outside. Breakfast is my meal all by myself and God.