I decided to make this post my first on this new adventure “Find Joy; Be Well” to remind myself as well as you that you don’t have to do everything at once. Life in general is super stressful, full of unexpected events, and requires us to do a lot of necessary tasks in our every day living. I have a chronic illness, and maybe you do too. But even if you are an average healthy person living your life, I hope that these ideas will help you realize that sometimes we need to pace ourselves.
The end of 2017 found me facing a lot of migraines, which were absolutely debilitating and exhausting. By mid January I was facing less pain, less anxiety, and less depression, which resulted in the desire to do more activities. The first days after a pain flare I want to do ALL OF THE THINGS. But all is not possible, so I have come to realize that some is ok.
If you are anything like me, your daily routine is already pretty full with work, chores, and self care. If you have a family it is even more so chock full of obligations. So the first thing we need to do is set priorities. The necessary and most important tasks need to get done first. If we do not have clean underwear we need to do laundry, our bills need to be paid, our prescriptions need to be filled, and we need to rest (self care is super important and something we will be talking about a lot).
Do Your Best
A question I often ask myself if “how do I know what I can handle?” What if I get sick again? What if I over do it? What if I’m not doing enough? The ever present anxiety of not being enough! Also a very common theme in my life.
These are all thoughts I have when looking at a day, or a week, or a month stretched out before me. I have realized that adding new activities or commitments to my schedule includes a lot of just doing my best.
If you are up for a promotion, taking on coaching a team, or volunteering for a charity, all you can do is your best. And STICK WITH IT. Some days will be hard, you may have to cancel a meeting or take a day of rest. But don’t give up.
It may be necessary to adjust accordingly however. There may be something you want to do that just doesn’t fit into your schedule or is too physically taxing for you to stick with it. You may find you really don’t love kick boxing as much as you thought, so you reevaluate and start over.
When we are making these commitments it is hard to know where our life will be in three months. Assuming we are healthy, will it still be something we are interested in or passionate about?
I know as my routine has changed over the years, so have my priorities. In my early 20s I was very into environmentalism, as my life changed so did my focus. Now, as you will see, I’m really about sharing my life with chronic illness, and helping others with their self care.
I know when I’ve been down for awhile I start to think about what I’ve missed and I have the desire to want to catch up on LOST TIME. There are a lot of things that I have missed in the last 10 years. I never finished my graduate degree, I didn’t start a career, there are countless musicians I wanted to see, and I have not visited any of the new places I wanted to visit.
It is certainly not healthy to attempt to play catch up. I can’t get my degree, start my career, take 10 vacations, and see all my favorite musicians in 2018. I need to pace myself in my everyday activities as well as my long term goals. So maybe I can start a plan to go back to school, attend a concert or a play, and take a long weekend trip to somewhere near by.
As I was developing this post I was also contemplating going back to school in the fall. Some of the work I am interested is clinical social work, working in a similar outpatient mental health program that I have participated in recently. At The Ohio State University the Master’s of Social Work program only starts in the fall, and the deadline for application is quickly approaching. In order to apply I would have to not only complete my application, but contact my references, request my transcripts from Susquehanna University (which you have to do by mail or fax by the way), and finish my FAFSA.
These are all things I was confident I could do if I stayed feeling well. However, I wasn’t sure if I was really ready to go back to school. Did I want to shell out the application money, and then the deposit money if/when I am accepted, when August might roll around and I could be in the throes of a 4 month long migraine or having a particularly bad fibromyalgia flare. So maybe it’s not such a good plan. But I just didn’t want to decide that I wasn’t going to do apply. I sat down and thought of the best reasons to go ahead with the application and the best reasons not to apply right now.
I was very satisfied with the reasons I came up with for waiting another year. In another year I will be healthier, my health has improved exponentially over the last several years, plus I have been meeting with a new headache doctor and we have several things in pipeline for the next six months. This means I will hopefully be more physically capable of full time graduate work and the field work that comes along it. In a year I will have more reading and writing under my belt after taking a break because I was not up to the mental task of doing so. I will also, and this is a hopeful one, be more financially sound. And an extra added bonus is I am starting a peer led support group that I think would look really good on my application if it is successful. So with all those things in mind I made the decision to delay my application for another year.
Hopefully by staking out my priorities, sticking with it, and adjusting accordingly, I can add new activities to my already established routine of doctor’s appointments, therapy, physical therapy, gym time, and writing. I can start to plan to do more, I can start a support group, or take a class, or attend a musical festival, all things I’ve said I want to do in the new year, but I won’t attempt them all in the same week.
I’ve shared the things I am struggling with planning/pacing. What things are you looking forward to that you can make a long term plan for in order to practice self care and stay healthy and less overwhelmed. Leave a comment below to let me know.
Or you can find me on Twitter to share an event you are really looking forward to this month, something that you may save your energy for an not make other commitments around that time.